: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Nature
Browse Nature Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Blossoms blooming in northern areas

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2005-01-27

Spurred by warmer than normal winter weather, the cherry blossoms are in near full bloom in the Nago area.

Good timing, too, as this is the weekend for the 43rd Nago Cherry Blossom Festival. The Saturday-Sunday festivities are expected to begin with some of the traditional rain showers that linger over the island this time of year, but temperatures promise to be warmer than a year ago.

For the Okinawa newcomer, the Cherry Blossom Festival ranks as one of the most beautiful events of the year, with Mother Nature showing her colors with the traditional flowers. This year’s “best viewing” is forecast through February 6th, although the cherry blossoms will be on the trees across Nago and nearby Mount Yaedake through late February.

In lesser numbers, cherry trees will soon be spreading their blossoms in areas to the south, including the capital city of Naha.

This weekend’s festival kicks off Saturday with opening ceremonies at 11am, with entertainment running throughout the afternoon and early evening. There’ll be bands and folksongs, young people, and of course, Okinawa dance. You’ll want cameras at the ready at 1pm when the taiko drum performance takes the stage at the festival site. As the sun sets, the last entertainment act is scheduled to begin at 6:50pm.

Sunday’s morning is a time for strolling the Nago Castle area, soaking in the cherry blossoms and, perhaps, having a family picnic. Entertainment again begins with a taiko drum show at 1:15pm, followed by Eisa, music, street dances, and rock music throughout the afternoon. An old time Japanese music show starts at 5pm, followed by ceremonies and a closing oldies-pop music concert at 6:30pm.

Festivities are held at the base of Nago castle, the expansive home to the local Aji chieftain in the 14th century. The area is now Nago Central Park, where thousands of Taiwan cherry trees show their beauty early each year. This year more than 200,000 pink Taiwan cherries are in full bloom.

Good walking shoes or sneakers are recommended for the trek up the well marked and paved roads and walkways to the top of the mountain, where there’s a spectacular view of not only the cherry blossoms, but of Nago and the brilliant shimmering waters of the East China Sea. Be assured that you’re not alone. The event draws tens of thousands of locals, as well as Okinawa visitors.

The Nago area has a second cherry blossoms viewing area, Mount Yaedake. More than 4,000 Taiwan cherry trees are now opening in an area just to the west of the big city. Mount Yaedake is the island’s second highest point, at 453.4 meters, and features more than just the cherry blossoms. It’s an area also known as the orchids capital of Okinawa. A winding four kilometer road exposes you to all the beauties Ma Nature can offer.

The Cost

The beauty is free. All else takes yen to purchase. As with all festivals, there are food and beverage vendors, game stands and of course, souvenir booths.

Getting There

This is pretty much a full day excursion, partially because of the activities, but primarily for the traffic. Take the Expressway north to its end, which is Kyodo, just south of Nago. Follow the traffic to Central Nago, and then again as it turns right to Central Park. We recommend parking well away from the festival site, both for cost reasons and ease of getting away when ready to go home. From the bases, plan on 1½ hours minimum to get there, so have the kids visit the bathroom before leaving home.

To visit Mount Yaedake, follow the same route, but instead of turning right at Nago Central Park, continue north another kilometer to Prefectural Road 84. Turn left, and follow the English language signs to Mount Yaedake.

Browse Nature Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

JU FacebookOkistyleOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker