Have you ever heard of Kawazu Sakura, a special cherry blossom blooming early in February? If not, then a brief introduction to this beautiful early-blooming sakura and its special festival recommended below will surely make you want to pack your stuff and go.
In Japan, sakura season often starts at the end of March and ends in the first half of April. According to the forecast of the dates that cherry blossoms start to bloom (kaika 開花) and reach full bloom (mankai 満開) released by JMC (Japan Meteorological Corporation), it is estimated that the flowering and full bloom dates for nearly 1,000 Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry) trees in cities from Hokkaido to Kagoshima during this period.
Unlike Somei Yoshino, the most common type of sakura whose flowers often bloom in late March and fall as quickly as they flower, Kawazu sakura bloom in early February and last for about a full month. Compared to Yoshino cherry blossoms, Kawazu sakura is a shade darker and more vibrant, creating a truly beautiful contrast with the blue sky on sunny days.
As its name suggests, the flower originated from Kawazu, a town by the coast of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka, where it was first discovered in the 1950s.
According to Kawazu Tourist Association, there will be around 8,000 Kawazu sakura trees in full bloom in early March. So, if you are planning to have an early hanami trip this February, it’s time to prepare for your vacation!
Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival
Each year, the flowers are commemorated during the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival (河津桜祭り), held around the peak bloom season, from early February to early March. This year, according to Kyuhoshi, the festival will be held from 1 to 28 February.
As this is one of the earliest cherry blossom events in Japan, the festival attracts many visitors with rows of beautiful and vibrant blooming cherry trees, night-time illuminations (which are on hold this year), and a variety of local food stalls. Located in Shizuoka, it is convenient to travel from Tokyo for about 2 hours by train so it can be an ideal one-day trip for visitors coming to this festival.
After coming out of Kawazu Station, you will be welcomed by the colourful rows of Kawazu cherry trees. Keep walking along the path for a few more minutes from the train station and you will reach Kawazu River, where the walkways are shaded by the pink colour of the cherry trees. This scenery will definitely be ideal for taking beautiful photos.
Along with this, cherry blossom sightseeing at night is also an activity that most visitors really enjoy when coming to this festival. Normally, certain areas are illuminated in the evening but the organisers made an announcement that the lights would be cancelled until 20th February, it’s unclear yet as to whether the blossoms will be lit up for the remainder of the festival. But even without the nighttime lightup, this festival is well worth a visit!
In addition to taking pictures, make sure to try some flavorful sakura-themed desserts and snacks sold at the food stalls along the riverside. The vendors here sell freshly-made Japanese sweets like mochi and taiyaki. Also, you can also buy some cute sakura-themed souvenirs that would make thoughtful gifts for your loved ones in many stores at this festival.
Head to Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival Now to Enjoy the Beauty of This Special Early-Blooming Kawazu Sakura!
As the festival is being held until the end of February, it is the perfect time to take a sightseeing trip to Kawazu! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
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Featured photo credits: Canva.com