It’s that time of year again, that’s right it’s cherry blossom season! If you are like the thousands of other people throughout Japan you can’t wait to get out and enjoy looking at the beautiful blossoms.
There are many festivals which take place throughout the island but this year the one that caught our eye was the Nakijin 6th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival which was scheduled to take place starting on January 19 2013. This festival takes place at the Nakijin Castle Site which is recognized as a World Heritage Site because of it’s cultural significance. The event which included scheduled performances to include Eisa dancers during the weekend against the backdrop of the beautiful castle was too much to ignore so we make the trip up to Nakijin on the Motobu Peninsula to enjoy the festivities.
As we made the trip up the coast towards Nakijin Castle Site it was clear that it could not have been a better day. We knew that once arriving at the site we would not see full bloomed cherry blossom trees but the view from the castle, which we had visited before, would be amazing on a day as clear as this. Once arriving at the site we were directed to a parking lot by the staff and made the walk up the hill to the castle site. We promptly purchased our tickets (¥300 for children ¥400 for adults) after navigating through the thick crowds and made our way to the castle site.
The event takes place at the beautiful Nakijin Castle Site. This beautiful castle is very large and sits on a hillside. Once you walk up the stone stairs you will find yourself with a gorgeous view of the ocean. The view would be beautiful on any given day but on a clear day it will take your breath away.
The site itself also has some shops, food stands, lockers and rest rooms (including western style) near the ticket booth. This is very useful especially if you are one of the many who are making a long trip to the site and want to refresh yourself.
There are not many cherry blossom trees on site. Now, just to be clear and reiterate we went to the festival with a clear understanding of the fact that we were not likely to see many blossoms but the distinct trees seemed to only line the stairway to the castle. Inside the castle itself there were a few cherry blossom trees but from what I could see the main attraction was the path to the entrance of the castle.
Most of the trees were on the walking path leading into the castle, which included some stairs which can only be described as uneven and ancient. At times this made seeing the cherry blossoms a bit rushed and crowded. This did not make it impossible to see the cherry blossoms and enjoy them, it just require a bit more caution as to not knock down anyone who was trying to move past.
It’s also important to note children who require a stroller may struggle with this event as there is no stroller accessibility.
The flyers and posters for this event seemed slightly misleading. Based on what we saw in photos on the flyers it seemed as though we could have expected dancers and the concert in front of the castle, however, it turned out that we were mistaken and the performances took place in front of the ticket booth. Normally I would not classify something like this as “ugly” however the area in which the performance was taking place was incredibly small and obstructed the ticket purchase booth. It was also very congested because of the people who were trying to use the rest room, get some food, purchase goods, purchase tickets as well as the performers and equipment all shared the same space. The decision to have the performance here is still a mystery however we unfortunately decided not to watch either performance which we had planned on seeing because of the amount of people and complete lack of space.
The event is a nice one especially for those experiencing the castle ruin for the first time. Cherry blossoms are icing on the cake adding something to the castle site which can only be experienced for a short time in the early spring. I would not recommend this event for those who are looking for an “intimate” experience with the blossoms.
If you want to attend the event it runs from now until February 3rd.