Sunday, 31st August 2014
In General Japan News,
Nagano sees sunflowers bloom
Visitors to the Nagano prefecture in central Japan are currently being treated to a truly remarkable spectacle - a field of 14,000 sunflowers in full bloom close to the city of Azumino.
Once a year in the heat of summer, these incredible flowers transform the local scenery, bathing the countryside in a soft golden haze as far as the eye can see. Visitors travel from far and wide to experience the majesty of their beauty. But while you can only see the phenomenon in summer, do not despair if you're not in Japan for peak season in 2014. There are many other flower-related activities to enjoy throughout the year. Take a look below at some of our choices.
The highlight of the calendar, hanami (or 'flower watching') season happens in late March and early April. For just three weeks - shorter if there's any heavy rain - the cherry trees across the country burst into life, bringing white and pink clouds of petals to Japan's streets, river banks and public parks. It's an incredible sight that makes for some incredible photographs, but while the flowers are interesting, they're nothing compared to how people behave around them. Wherever you go, you will spot Japanese friends, couples and families taking selfies and enjoying large picnics underneath the trees. These are party-like affairs - don't be surprised if you spot a cheeky bottle of sake among all the food.
Also known as ume season, the plum trees that are spread across Japan explode into colour in an incredible display that some consider to be just as vivid as that of the cherry blossoms. Popular spots to enjoy the displays include Kairakuen in the Ibaraki prefecture, the Yushima Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo and Hanegi Park, which is also in the capital. The plum trees typically bloom in February and March, acting as a sort of appetizer for the main hanami season.
Kameido Tenjin Shrine wisteria festival
On a slightly smaller scale, the Kameido Tenjin Shrine is home to a plethora of wisteria plants that can be found around the edge of its beautiful pond. They bloom in late April and, reflected in the water, their lavender-blue clouds of petals are stunning to look at. Don't be surprised if the scene looks somewhat familiar when you get there - this display has been the subject of countless works of art and photographs that are used to promote Japan. On the historical side, Tsunayoshi, the fifth Tokugawa shogun, and Yoshimune, the eighth shogun, are said to have visited this shrine.
Izu Oshima Tsubaki Matsuri
If you're headed to the Izu Oshima island in late January, you're in for a treat. The Izu Oshima Tsubaki Matsuri is an island-wide event that celebrate local products, among them the blooming of the fantastic camellia flowers that are found in abundance here. You'll witness parades, camellia exhibitions and instructions on how to dye clothes using their petals. It's really quite an incredible event.
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