花見 or hanami literally means ‘flower watching’ or to look at flowers. This phenomenon comes about at the start of spring as the sakura or cherry blossom trees start to bloom. People go crazy for the sakura in Japan and just right too as it probably one of the most beautiful times to see Japan. As I talked about in my last blog post on Kawaguchigo spring time is the rebirth of Japanese nature. All of the flowers start to pop out, the fruit trees are blooming and the smell of nectar is in the air.
The Sakura (or cherry blossom) is the unofficial national flower of Japan and has been celebrated here for 100’s of years! if you ever come to japan you will soon find out how the Japanese are borderline fanatical when it comes to flowers on tree’s…. so where am I going with this you say? Well,
Yesterday, I took a little trip to Hokuto city, Yamanashi Prefecture to spend sometime flower watching or hanami as they like to say in Japan!
I first went to 山高神代桜 or Bowler Sakura Jindai which is quite a famous area to see cherry blossom, in fact, it is home to this tree.
The Jindaizakura, which just so happens to be the oldest cherry blossom tree in the Japan and in fact the world. Oh, and it’s in Yamanashi Prefecture!!! This tree has been a focal point for Japanese culture for hundreds of years, and at a mere 2000 years young it is still growing strong! Jindaizakura one of the three famous sakura trees in Japan, the second oldest is Usuzumi-Zakura in the Usuzumi Park in Gifu Prefecture which is around 1500 years old and Miharu Takizakura, Fukushima Prefecture is the third oldest at 1000 years old but by far the most famous. After lasting the tsunami and nuclear reactor disaster is it a beacon of hope for the Japanese and is visited by thousands of people when blooming.
The gardens surrounding the Jindaizakura tree are gorgeous, fields of daffodils, snowdrops and tulips covered in the fallen cherry blossoms.
You can even stop off and get some tasty food! I would recomend the mochi and the sakura ice-cream. Yes cherry blossom ice-cream!!!!
Parking at the temple cost around 400/500 yen depending on how close you are to the temple.
After walking around the park more than once, I got talking to a lcoal and they told me about a famous street that was a five minute drive from were the temple park was. So I thought that I would check it out!