Cherry Blossoms

June 28, 2012

by Rina Hashiguchi

Cherry blossoms are special flowers for Japanese people and a symbol of spring in Japan. From now, I will introduce cherry blossoms and some places you can see beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyoto.

Why do Japanese people love cherry trees?

This is because ancient people thought that the god of agriculture dwelt in the cherry tree. In addition, the flowering of cherry blossoms was a guide for people to start planting rice. For that reason, people were grateful for the cherry tree and loved it. Another reason is that Japanese people love its evanescent life. Cherry blossoms soon fall, so they think that the life of cherry blossoms resembles the life of a human. Also, cherry blossoms were a symbol of the way of the samurai because they had to die gracefully for their master. Japanese people  love its beauty.

What is ‘Ohanami’?

‘Ohanami’is to enjoy viewing cherry blossoms while drinking and eating with our family, friends, and colleagues under the trees. During the Heian era (794-1185), Ohanami was only observed by the emperor and the nobility. From the Edo era(1603-1868), ordinary people were allowed to take part and people have enjoyed Ohanami every year since then. Generally, people bring their own lunch box and dumplings that have three colors: pink, white and green. The pink represents cherry blossoms that symbolize the coming spring; the white represents snow that symbolizes  the remaining winter; and the green represents a mugwort that symbolizes an omen of summer.  Why don’t you try ‘Ohanami’ next spring?

Beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyoto

There are a lot of places you can enjoy viewing beautiful cherry blossoms in Kyoto. I’ll introduce some of them to you.

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park

There is a big weeping cherry tree in this park. The first weeping cherry tree died, so there is now a second tree. During the Ohanami season, it is lit up at night. You can see a fantastic cherry blossom.

Illuminated cherry blossom at Kodaiji Temple

Illuminated cherry blossom

Kodaiji temple

There is a weeping cherry tree in this garden. Illuminations of this tree are very famous and beautiful. Its color and brightness change every few seconds, so you may not be able to take your eyes off it.

Hirano Shrine

Hirano Shrine

Hirano shrine

There are no less than 50 kinds of cherry trees in this shrine. Also, you can see rare cherry trees, only present at this shrine. In the Ohanami season, a lot of outdoor stalls are lined up just as at a festival in this shrine. That’s why it is so lively. You can enjoy viewing, while drinking and eating.

Ninnaji Temple

Ninnaji Temple

Ninnaji temple

There are uncommon cherry trees in this temple. They are called ‘Omurozakura’. Common cherry blossoms come out at the beginning of April, but Omurozakura come out in the middle of April. They come out the latest in Kyoto, so you can enjoy seeing cherry blossoms for a long time.

Finally…

There are a lot of other places you can enjoy seeing cherry blossoms in Kyoto. I have only introduced some of them. I would like you to enjoy walking around Kyoto while viewing cherry blossoms.

Yasaka-Schrein

by YAMAZAKI Noriko

Der Schrein soll im Jahr 656 gebaut worden sein.


Es waren unter falscher Anklage mehrere Menschen hingerichtet worden. Die Leute glaubten, dass die Geister dieser unglücklichen Menschen aus Rache eine Seuche entfacht haben. Im Jahr 869 gab es eine große Epidemie. Um die Götter mild zu stimmen, begann man das Gion-Fest zu feiern.
In der Muromachi Ära wurden die Festwagen von den wohlhabenden Bürgern prächtig geschmückt.

Man besucht in der Silvesternacht oder am Neujahrstag den Schrein. Beim Okera-Fest wird nach einer traditionellen Zeremonie ein heiliges Feuer entfacht. Mit dem Feuer wird dann gegen Abend am 31. Dezember in eisernen Laternen Feuer angezündet. Die Besucher im Yasaka-Schrein, zünden sich damit eine Lunte an und nehmen das Feuer mit nach Hause. Dann zünden sie in ihrem Haus-Schrein ein geweihtes Licht an und kochen mit dem Feuer Reiskuchensuppe.


Der Maruyama-Park ist östlich des Yasaka-Tempels. Der Park ist wegen der Kirschblüten berühmt. Und der Park war der Schreinbezirk des Gion-Schreins (früher Yasaka-Schrein). Aber der Park ist jetzt ein städtischer Park der Stadt Kyoto, weil er in der Meiji Ära dem Staat gestiftet worden war.
<参考資料>
http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/org/yasaka/
http://raku.city.kyoto.jp/sight/new/menu_small.php
http://www.kyokanko.or.jp/3dai/gion.html