Even in the most metropolitan city of all, Tokyo, people still find ways to experience the splendor of nature, and Chiba stands out as one of the better hanami locations. Mobara Park has long been one of the top flower viewing areas in all of Japan and for good reason – the expansive sanctuary is home to almost 3000 different cherry trees including wild varieties like the yamazakura, although many of them belong to the Yoshino genus. The Yoshino cherry trees (named after the Yoshino Mountain in the Nara Prefecture) for most of the year are either nondescript during the winter or average looking during the summer, but between April 1st and 15th they bloom in Mobara Park. For someone who has never witnessed it, it can be hard to explain – the white and pink flowers create the illusion of an interconnected cloud hovering just above the ground.
Nowhere else is this feeling of “rebirth” manifested more than in cherry trees – almost every city has its own population of cherry trees, whether they be lining the streets or growing in parks, and when their blossoms finally bloom it is an occasion to celebrate. The ancient practice of hanami – or flower viewing – involves families, friends, and co-workers visiting parks to watch the cherry blossom trees come alive, often with picnics.
There is something incomparable about the Japanese aesthetic, and whether it takes the form of intricate ukiyoe wood engravings or the formalized tea ceremony, one of the main features seems to be both an appreciation for nature, a sense of contemplation, and a patience which is sometimes all too often hard to find in our busy lives. That may be why spring is such an important time for the Japanese, because during the months of April and May spring finally returns and brings with it warmer weather and a sense of rebirth.
Aside from being a nice place to view the trees, Mobara Park does double duty as an important shrine location as well. The park includes a lovely pond that is home to variegated koi and a small walkway that leads to a shelter erected in honor of the goddess deity Benten. During this time there are many shops set up as well offering all sorts of baked goods and sweets, and more often than not feature traditional Japanese drumming (or taiko) which is performed both by students and by professionals.
Of course, the expansive park – which covers nearly 160,000 square meters – definitely demands a full day, so if you’re planning to visit be sure to leave enough time to walk through the hiking trails. During the high season, it can be very crowded as well, so it’s best to avoid having a picnic in the main walkways where there’s a lot of traffic. Nevertheless, there are plenty of side trails where you can often find a quiet relaxing alcove under the blossoms, and is a favorite location for couples on a romantic first date.
While most of the trees belong to just a handful of species, there is actually a lot to learn about the cherry blossoms themselves. The color of blossoms can be anywhere from a dazzling white to a light pink, but there are some varieties that are a deeper shade of almost purple, and still more that have a yellowish or reddish tinge to them. The majority of wild trees tend to have blossoms with five petals, but over the course of generations of cultivation, you can find some with upwards of twenty or more (these are so-called yaezakura).
Whatever your preferred style of flower viewing, be it an opportunity to hang out with friends and share stories and jokes over a boxed lunch or a chance for some quiet alone-time to reflect, hanami has something for everyone, and Mobara Park definitely takes the cake when it comes to sheer spectacle. If you have any questions about cherry blossoms, please chat with us via online chat or Facebook Messenger.
If you have any questions about cherry blossoms, please contact our team via online chat or Facebook Messenger.
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Address: 1325 Takashi, Mobara City, Chiba Prefecture
12 minutes by car from Mobara Station
7 minutes by bus from Mobara Station, Nishimachi bus to Otaki
9:00 AM – 9:00 PM (Weekdays)
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Weekends)
Website: Mobara Park (Japanese)