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Flower Festivities by the Bunch

January 11, 2016
Culture Calling... Flower Power
For most of us, the only celebration centred around a tree may have come and gone, but in hana-happy Japan there is always a budding flora fest just around the corner. And it’s not just about those famed cherry blossoms, locals love to ogle just about any pretty plant life. With Spring approaching, some of the best flower events are all set to bloom.

The first of the bunch is the Camellia Festival, from the end of January to mid-March. Undoubtedly the best spot for ogling the bright pink and yellow florets is the scenic island of Izu Oshima, accessible from Tokyo via regular jet ferries. Leave yourself two hours travel time, then meander through the 300+ hectare Camellia Park, being sure to tour the romantic petal tunnel.

Over the same period is the Plum Festival. Admired as early as the Nara Period, the pale puce Ume are still the prefered blossom of those seeking a calmer and less crowded flower viewing experience. Brave the lingering chill and head to Hanegi Park in western Tokyo, home to 600 plum trees, or Ueno’s Yushima Tenjin Shrine, which holds traditional drumming performances in February when its grove of trees is at its most beautiful.

Finally, there is the famed Cherry Blossom Hanami in March-April. And Tokyo’s best Sakura scenes? Aoyama Cemetery or the wonderful water-sided Chidorigafuchi and Inokashira Park. Blooming marvellous!

Still not had your fill of festivals? There’s also Hina Matsuri on 3 March, when families pray for the health and happiness of their daughters by displaying imperially attired dolls. Tokyoites tend to keep their Hina at home but you can see examples from periods past in the extravagantly adorned rooms of Meguro Gajoen.

Camellia Festival / Izu Oshima Island

Plum Festival / Yushima Tenjin Shrine / 3-30-1 Yushima / Bunkyo / +81 3 3836 0753 / 6:00 am-8:00 pm daily / and Hanegi Park / 4-38-52 Daita / Setagaya / daily

Cherry Blossom Hanami / Aoyama Cemetery / 2-32-2 Minami-Aoyama / Minato-ku / +81 3 3401 3652 / daily / Chidorigafuchi / 1-1 Kitanomarukoen / Chiyoda-ku / daily / and Inokashira Park / 1-18-31 Gotenyama / Musashino / daily

Hina Matsuri / Meguro Gajoen / Hyakudankaidan / 1-8-1 Shimomeguro / Meguro-ku / +81 3 5434 3837 / 10:00 am-6:00 pm daily / 22 Jan – 6 Mar / megurogajoen.co.jp
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