It’ll soon be that time of year again when the snow fades away and the sun returns, and nothing marks the occurrence of spring in Japan quite like the annual blossoming of cherry trees. Throughout the country, this event is often marked by many different kinds of festivities, and although it is not really a holiday in the conventional sense of the word (sense each year can vary depending on how hard or light the winter was) it is certainly treated that way.
Families and friends venture out to some of the more amazing parks with loaded picnic baskets and portable karaoke machines to enjoy themselves, while others curl up by themselves on a blanket to quietly read under the pink clouds of flower petals. For those in Tokyo though, the experience can be unforgettable, and in Chiba the Omigawa Shiroyama Park is central to spring flower viewing.
Although it isn’t always easy to predict the blossoming of cherry trees each season, the infamous park nevertheless holds an annual – albeit informal – the O Suigo Omigawa Cherry and Azalea Festival is from April 1st to early May. What really makes Omigawa Shiroyama Park stand out though is the fact they boast nearly 1,000 Yoshino cherry trees, which are one of the most popular and iconic fairytale-esque species. When the buds turn, they tend to explode into color, creating dense canopies of blossoms that sweeten the air with their fragrance.
During this time hundreds of onlookers crowd the park, filtering into the cherry blossom tunnels, and because it’s one of the more popular places it’s important to remember not to crowd the paths with your own picnic setups. Nevertheless, the park itself is situated on a hill, and there are some more hidden areas off the main drive that can offer up some peaceful places to hide out and enjoy the splendor of nature.
Aside from the ubiquitous collection of ancient Yoshino cherry trees, the park (as the name of their eminent festival suggests) also houses an impressive array of azaleas – almost 4000, comprising a number of different colors and species. As you walk over the iconic red bridges interspersed throughout the park and breathe in the different smells, it truly does feel as if you’ve left the city far behind, and it seems to exemplify a Japanese sensibility: even as more and more people become urbanized and move to metropolitan areas, there seems to be a latent awareness of the important nature plays – if not in our daily work lives, then certainly in our spiritual lives.
If you’re really keen, the beauty of Omigawa Shiroyama Park isn’t just something that can be experienced during the day. In the evenings and at night, the park actually lights up with strategically placed nobomboriga lights and becomes a veritable fairy land. The atmosphere still feels natural, but there is something almost mystical about being able to walk through such expansive canopies with the stars overhead, and is probably one of the reasons that Chiba continues to be one of the top-rated flower viewing locations in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.
If you have any questions about cherry blossoms, please contact our team via online chat or Facebook Messenger.
[map lat=”35.85999″ lng=”140.593479″][/map]
Omigawa Shiroyama Park
Address: 431 Omigawa, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
30 minute walk from Omigawa Station
10 minutes by car from Omigawa Station
Hours: 24 Hours
Website: Omigawa Shiroyama Park (Japanese)