Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kochi Life Q&A : Ohanami

   For Japanese people, Ohanami (lit. flower viewing) is associated with cherry blossoms. Let’s enjoy the Japanese culture of Ohanami this spring!
Q: When did the culture of Ohanami start?
A: The origin of Ohanami is said to have started in the Nara period (710-794 A.D.) when the imperial family went to view the plum blossom which had been introduced from China. In the Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) cherry blossoms started to become more popular than plum blossoms, and many poems about cherry blossoms remain from this era. It seems that as time passed, this custom spread to the warriors and the common people.

Q: What do you do for Ohanami?
A: Ohanami doesn’t just involve admiring the flowers of cherry blossom trees. Lots of people will roll out picnic sheets under the cherry blossom and have a party with lots of food and drink. Obento (lunch boxes) made especially for Ohanami, are also often sold in a variety of colors.
Q: When do the cherry blossoms start flowering?
A: The cherry blossom front moves up the Japanese archipelago across a 5 month period, starting at the end of January from Okinawa in the south, and ending in Hokkaido in the north. The best time to see the cherry blossom in Kochi is roughly around the end of March to the beginning of April. The predicted times for the blooming of Japan’s cherry blossoms are announced by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
Q: Please tell me where the best places in Kochi are to enjoy Ohanami.
A: These places are recommended by the KIA staff and the CIRs. They are easy access from Kochi City so try going to them!
Kochi Castle (Kochi City)
   As Kochi City’s famous cherry blossom viewing location, this one is not far out. Try taking a photo of the cherry blossom trees with the castle in the background.
Makino Park (Sakawa Town, Takaoka District)
   This is about 10 minutes walk from the JR Sakawa Station. In the park you can see the Someiyoshino blossoms, for which it is known, and a whole variety of different types of cherry blossom.
Along the Horikawa river (Kutanda, Kochi City, near Cul-port)
   The cherry blossom petals floating down the Horikawa river is said to be beautiful.
Kochi Kagamino Park (Tosa Yamada Town, Kami City)
   It takes about 10 minutes by bus from the JR Tosa Yamada Station. A popular spot is the 200 meter long cherry blossom tunnel. Paper lanterns are lit so you can enjoy the cherry blossom in the evening as well.

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