Okinawa is the first prefecture in Japan that celebrates the blooming of the ever lovely and mesmerizing sakura. Every year, festivals are erected and people participate in hanami or flower viewing parties. The best part about living in Okinawa is while everyone else is freezing on mainland Japan, these dark pink blossoms promise beach season is sure to return quickly. If you’re having trouble deciding where to go (and you should) here’s some alluring sakura spots in Okinawa to make the decision even harder.
Ashley from Forever Fern Weh on Cape Hedo
This past February my husband and I began a quest; to find cherry blossoms without the hassle of a crowd. It took a few tries, but on our leisurely drive north, towards the end of Rt. 70 and Cape Hedo, it happened! The road became lined with Sakura. Though some were small and draped delicately over the sidewalk, others were huge creating waves of pink and white along the curves of the road. The street was perfectly quiet and you could easily pull over at any time to take photos without causing a huge traffic jam of cars or people! Having a sidewalk to set up my tripod was also a treat considering when you visit Mt. Yaedake the road is just narrow enough for two cars passing, never mind the sea of people trying to enjoy the trees as well.
Being surrounded by these trees in the quiet you begin to really see why they are so important in the Japanese culture. They are small and delicate but when all bloomed together, their impact is magnificent. We really savored our time and spent about an hour photographing the scene. The quiet was worth the drive and created more intimate viewing of these stunning trees.
Gina Bear on the Nago Sakura Festival
This is one of my favorite festivals as while I was a JET, I would go every year, eat choco bananas, drink Orion draft beer, and indulge in less than healthy but tasty festival yakisoba. This festival promises a cherry blossom trail up a mountain where you can pray to the ancestors and overlook the glory Nago has to offer. Going up the hill is hard work, so go in your comfy trainers or beast it like a Japanese girl and wear heels for cute pictures. Nago Sakura Festival a great place to take pictures with your friends, go on a date, and spend the weekend in the north and away from the concrete jungle of Naha.
The cherry blossoms here always made me feel happy because my favorite color is pink. While most cherry trees are a light pink or white like a marshmallow, the uniqueness of the ones in Okinawa made me love them more. If you’re looking to see anyone and everyone, I guarantee, you’ll run into a few acquaintances at this festival for a kanpai!
Rachael Brennan from Sea Change Okinawa on the Nakijin Castle
This year was my first chance to go cherry blossom viewing in Okinawa. Having lived on the mainland years ago, I started my love affair with cherry blossoms; however, when I moved to Okinawa I realized just how different the blossoms are on this island!
I finally made it to Nakijin Castle ruins this year to check out their cherry blossom festival. Although they weren’t yet in full bloom, the blossoms and the setting was gorgeous. The Nakijin castle ruins have intricate stone paths lined with cherry trees leading to the top of the ruins that overlook the gorgeous Sea of Japan. During this festival there are hundreds of lanterns around the castle grounds which are lit up for night time illumination.
At the entrance to the castle ruins there are a number of special stalls selling sakura flavored ice cream, sakura cookies and other cherry blossom themed products. If you have the time, I definitely recommend making the trip to Nakijin Castle ruins for their cherry blossom festival in January!
Bonus: Sunflowers in Nakagusuku
I know these aren’t cherry blossoms but they’re amazing regardless. If your favorite flower is the sunflower, then you’re in luck. There’s an entire field dedicated to these bright yellow flowers and you can walk around in them happily. I love how the Japanese are so courteous so they’ll help you take a picture if need be! (That’s how I got the awesome selfie shot! Lucky me!)
Since Okinawa is the first prefecture to have these beautiful blossoms, you better act fast! Spring creeps upon on us like butterfly’s nimble wings and leaves before we have time to notice what happened. Have you been to any of these spots in Okinawa? Are there better places you would recommend? Would love to hear about your experiences!