Yaedake Sakura: The first to bloom in all of Japan


It’s that time of year again. . . . . SAKURA SEASON! Here in Okinawa our sakura season is SUPER early compared to the rest of the country. It usually starts around New Years making it a great way to finish off one year and ring in the next. Although we have sakura all over Okinawa the first usually bloom on Yaedake, a mountain in the northern part of Okinawa. (Yaedake is a great place to view sakura because not only can you enjoy them on your entire drive up the mountain but you can also stop and enjoy the view off the mountain, hike through some basic trails and play at the rather large playground. There is also a ton of parking around the mountain making it an ideal place to stroll.)

Although I am happy to report that the sakura have started to bloom it’s important to note that I don’t recommend packing up the car and checking them out this weekend. There are only a few trees that have started to bloom so it will be a little wait before you walk through the beautiful pink pedals. However, sakura being what they are (here one moment and gone the next) it’s time to keep a close eye on the weather and just maybe you can catch them . . . . . before it’s too late.


5 thoughts on “Yaedake Sakura: The first to bloom in all of Japan

  1. Late January, no? We are planning Kyoto in late March in hopes of a good year!!

    • For the past 3 years we’ve seen blooms as early as late December. Last year they were in (what seemed like) full bloom just before Christmas. This year there were a few but a lot of buds so we’re hoping for a good year. I hear that Kyoto has some beautiful places to enjoy the blossoms. Maybe one day I will be able to head up that direction.

      • Do you know if the Nago Sakura Festival is worth going/seeing?? I believe it is the 25th and 26th this year…at the castle ruins park up that way.

      • Personally I do not like the Nago Sakura Festival. It is the most talked about among the military community, probably the most popular but unfortunately it’s also the most crowded making it feel more like a line at Disney World than an enjoyable stroll through the sakura. The biggest “dislike” for me is that everyone is herding up the one stairway to the top of the mountain making it hard to stop, take pictures or really enjoy being at the event. As an alternative I very much enjoy the Yaedake Sakura Festival or the Nakiji Castle Site Sakura Festival. Both still have people but not the high concentration of the Nago Sakura Festival. Something that I also like about these other events (especially the Yaedake Festival) is that they are a bit more . . . . . well I suppose you could say that they lack the tourism factor. (If that makes any sense at all.) It almost feels more like a block party than an event geared towards tourists.

  2. Yes, I guess I should’ve worded my comment more clearly. I was exactly talking about the Nakiji Castle festival. I know people who went to the Nago one in the past, and it is EXACTLY how you describe it – tourist draw for the masses. Clearly not a way to experience such a beautiful event in the (relative) countryside of Okinawa. We are planning our first trip off island starting the weekend of the festival though, so we are quite torn. I guess they will be blooming next year as well! Thanks for the insights – always appreciated.

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