Visitors take photos of ryukyu kanhizakura cherry trees in full bloom on Mount Yaedake in Motobu,
Okinawa Prefecture, on Jan. 20, 2014. (Mainichi)
MOTOBU, Okinawa — About 7,000 cherry trees are in full bloom on a mountain here, adding color to the subtropical forest.
The trees, called ryukyu kanhizakura, on 453-meter-high Mount Yaedake in Motobu are known as the cheery trees that bloom the earliest across the country. Ryukyu kanhizakura, a kind of Taiwan cherry with dark pink flowers, are seen widely in Okinawa and other warm areas.
Unlike someiyoshino, a type of cherry tree commonly seen on mainland Japan, ryukyu kanhizakura trees on higher ground bloom first, and then trees flower on lower ground.
(Photo and article cited in Mainichi Shimbun)
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Season of cherry blossom has come around this year. A severe cold wave hit mainland Japan this winter while winter here in Okinawa was as usual, or it may have been milder than usual this year. We’ve had fine days since the middle of January with the expected lowest temperature at 15~16℃ (59~61℉). We’ve already had many days with temperature as high as 23℃ (73℉) during the daytime. As per every year, cherry blossoms in northern part of Okinawa came into full bloom. On weekends, festivals and events related to cherry blossoms were to be held, so I went out with my family.
The mountain, Yae Dake, introduced in the article of Mainich Shinbum, Nakijin Castle Site, and Nago Castle Site are the 3 spots that are selected in 100 spots noted as good places to enjoy cherry blossoms, released by Japan Cherry Blossom Association. http://www.sakuranokai.or.jp/information/
We’ve been to the mountain before so we decided to visit Nago Castle Site this time. Nago Castle Site is located on a hill of 345m. From the observation platform on the hilltop, we could enjoy great scenery of the townscape and the ocean view.
Cherry blossoms around the observation platform were in full bloom. The dark pink flowers were so beautiful with clear, blue sky in the background. Though we took a shuttle bus to the top, we decided to walk down on the way back. As we walked down the hill viewing more cherry blossoms along the walking path, we soon realized it was much longer to reach at the foot of the hill than we thought. But on the way, we walked up and down through a jungle where no cherry blossoms were around. Then we came across to reach at an athletic playground where my children played while my husband and I tool a rest. We even crossed a suspension bridge. It was totally unexpected but we all enjoyed this hiking.
The final approach to the festival held at the foot of a hill, there is a long, steep stairway with more than 100 steps. Because the space was not so wide and we did not want to stagnate the flow of people, we could not stop to view the cherry blossoms along the path. Between the cherry trees were stone lanterns for lighting up.
We intended to stay longer so we could view the cherry blossoms under the light at night. But because the hiking took longer time, we were so tired and hungry that we were drawn to the good smells from the many food stands. As it’s said, “bread is better than the songs of birds,” our viewing time was over.
It seems to be a quite impressive experience for my young children. They became aware of the cherry trees here and there in the neighborhood and as they noticed them, they would stop and look up. Spring has come around the corner.