The color pink is everywhere across northern Okinawa this week –and we’re not talking about the popular clothing apparel—as the annual cherry blossoms burst into bloom.
And blooming cherry blossoms is the signal for the ritual visits to the greater Nago City area in northern Okinawa one of the next two weeks for a close-up look at one of the island’s most famous flowers. The festivities get underway both in Nakijin and Motobu this weekend, with Nago’s most famous festival beginning January 26th.
The 35thMotobu Yaedake Sakura Festival begins Saturday and runs through February 3rd, with
admission free to Yaedake Forest of Sakura Park in Motobu Town, Kunigami County. The flowers’ beauty is best seen the Mount Yae way with an altitude of 453 meters all dyed in pink Taiwan cherry blossoms. The Motobu Yaedake Sakura Festival is the first of the year as the flowers bloom earliest here. The festival involves a cherry tree exhibition, dance and drum performances, and the beauty of the flowers.
Festivities open Saturday, along with the Miss Sakura 2013 contest, a clown show, the Sakura story and a Japanese Taiko drum exhibition. Motobu citizens make Sunday fun with a show from noon to 2 p.m., and an Okinawa noodles tasty eating contest from 5 ~ 5:30 p.m. Additional activities continue the weekends of January 26th and February 2nd.
Not quite as established, but just as beautiful, the 6thNakijin Sakura Festival kicks off Saturday on the ruins of Nakijin Castle. The lighting of the cherry blossom trees is each evening, with last entries at 8:30 p.m. Admission is ¥400 for adults, and ¥300 for all school age youngsters.
The ruins of Nakijin Castle were registered as a World Heritage site with eight other historical sites within the prefecture. From the castle gate to the main enclosure, in the Nakijin ruins of a castle which residents are as proud of as the Shuri Castle in Naha, about 300 cherry trees stand in a single row. The pink of the cherry trees look beautiful in the ramparts of the tasteful building blocks, the nocturnal view of cherry blossoms as lit, and the spectacle of the region.
Imajin drum performances take place from 6 p.m. Saturday, along with a Kakizome art exhibition by Tabashusui. Kakizome is the first calligraphy writing of the New sYear, where auspicious words such as Kibou, meaning hope, and Haru, meaning spring, are painted on Kakizome with a brush. The Nakijin festival continues on stage Sunday afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m. with the Meio University brass band and an Eisa performance at 5 p.m.
The festival continues the weekends of January 26th with a set of dances and traditional entertainment, and the weekend of February 2nd with announcement of the king and queen of Hokuzan.
The biggest of the cherry blossom festivals comes a week from now, Saturday the 26th, with the 51st