Travel goes pink: Japan's Cherry Blossom festival is the place to be - Hindustan Times
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Travel goes pink: Japan's Cherry Blossom festival is the place to be

By Ismat Tahseen
Jan 30, 2024 04:29 PM IST

Here’s a scenic peek into this event considered to be the harbinger of Spring.

Love travel and photography? It might be the time to plan a trip to Japan and head to the country in the next few weeks. The country’s much-awaited Cherry Blossom Festival is set to take place during spring and will see tourists from all across the globe gather for the pink outpour around late March. Every year, the event, held across Japan in cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Fukushima, showcases the beauty of flowers blossoming. To admire it, people partake in hanami (the traditional Japanese custom of viewing cherry blossoms) by hosting picnics under the trees, organising special tea ceremonies, walking around markets and indulging in pink-themed food and drinks. Here’s what you need to know in order to experience this spring delight.

Blossoming charm: The Cherry Blossom Festival is Japan’s ‘cherry’ on top!(Shutterstock)
Blossoming charm: The Cherry Blossom Festival is Japan’s ‘cherry’ on top!(Shutterstock)

A rise in travellers

A large number of Indians have a newfound love for Japan, especially for its postcard-pretty Cherry Blossom Festival, according to Kundan Jha, CEO of Tokyo Travel Bureau, Connaught Place, Delhi. “Over the last few years, there is a rise in the number of Indian travellers heading to the festival, with an increase of 10-15% every year. Planning starts right from October itself as hotels can get expensive. We mostly see family groups and a few couples that choose to do pre-wedding shoots there,” he says. The festival has also emerged as an Instagram-worthy place to be, with many influencers lately adding it to their bucket list. “We get lots of queries,” adds Jha.

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A cheaper Cherry blossom?

While it is dreamy to be in Japan during the blossom period, travellers often find South Korea less costly for the festival. Veneeta Rawat, founder and director of Amazing Vacations, Mumbai, shares, “We have also seen a rise in interest of people going to South Korea as it is cheaper.”

But the best part about witnessing the cherry blossom in Japan is the duration of the festival.

As the countryside gets awash with pink, people like to capture pictures and videos of the panoramic sight(Shutterstock)
As the countryside gets awash with pink, people like to capture pictures and videos of the panoramic sight(Shutterstock)

“The highlight is that the festival is the longest — starting from Kyoto in late March and then in full bloom by the first week of April in Tokyo. It also marks the beginning of spring, so the weather is lovely. While the Japanese culture is of great interest to people, the cherry blossom festival also marks the beginning of spring, so the weather is lovely during this time. We've even had ladies groups travel there, get dressed up in kimonos and other traditional garb and take pictures,” Rawat adds.

The pretty blossoms are on the menu

Food and drink intersperse with the fun. In several cafes and restaurants across Japan, you can get traditional delights such as pink taiyaki (Japanese fish-shaped cake), dango (rice flour dumplings), sakura-themed salads.

Sakura tea and mochi, the Japanese traditional confectionary, (Shutterstock)
Sakura tea and mochi, the Japanese traditional confectionary, (Shutterstock)

Sakura mochi (pounded rice cake), mousse and drinks such as spring blossom cocktails and teas are also popular.

Cherry blossom, but make it Indian

India has its own Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong, Meghalaya. Karan Chawla, founder and CEO of Jokotta Discoveries, says that more can be done to popularise it. “The state tourism department, in conjunction with local tour operators, needs to step up promotions. There are music festivals all over India’s northeast that are quite popular. Perhaps a tie-up with those may help. A number of people tend to think of the states as a monolith. So, it makes sense to ride on the popularity of, say a music festival in Arunachal Pradesh, to promote something like the Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong,” he suggests.

PLAN YOUR TRIP
Best time to visit Japan for the Cherry Blossom Festival: Late March to early April (peak bloom).

People plan 'hanami or a flower viewing parties for the festival (Shutterstock)
People plan 'hanami or a flower viewing parties for the festival (Shutterstock)

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Sakura or cherry blossom, the national flower of Japan, represents a new start. Japan is said to have over 600 types of these trees throughout the country in varied hues of pink, making for picturesque views.

ON A BUDGET?
One can stay in a ryokan (Japanese inn) or a capsule hotel to get the classic Japanese experience.

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