This Spring Festival in Japan Worships the Beauty of Flowers

Article by: Laura Mason|@masonlazarus

Wed March 21, 2018 | 10:00 AM

Japanese culture and custom has always revolved around a deep reverence for nature – a far cry from how most Western nations view their natural surroundings. From its architecture to its poetry, traditional clothing, cuisine, and even its festivals, Japan is unique in its deeply rooted harmony with the natural world. Ueno Sakura Matsuri, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo, Japan, is an incredible example of this type of reverence.

Centered around the popular, ancient custom of hanami, or flower viewing, Ueno Sakura Matsuri sees thousands of families and friends come together under the lush and shady groves of Ueno Park in the center of the city to eat, drink, and catch the glorious first sign of spring: thousands of cherry blossom (sakura) trees. Cherry blossoms are so culturally beloved in Japan, they've even inspired a Starbucks latte flavor.

Ueno Sakura Matsuri 2014 Guilhem Vellut Flickr Creative Commons 5

Ueno Park is home to dozens of sakura species, each varying in size, shape, and color. Yoshino cherry trees (somei-yoshino), the most dominant variety in Japan, flowers with light pink, five-petaled blossoms that are almost white. They’re so light in color that you might mistake the petals for snow while strolling through the park. Then, when the sun goes down, the whole park is set aglow with hundreds of paper lanterns, known as bonbori, which illuminate the cherry blossoms for the evening. Amidst this dreamy atmosphere, friends and families gather to eat and drink in celebration of the coming season. No matter where you are in Ueno Park, you’re guaranteed to have the best viewing spot for cherry blossoms.

Learn more about this fascinating and gorgeous festival in the video above. Ueno Sakura Matsuri begins March 21, 2018 and runs through early April – or whenever the sakuras have all blossomed.