Flowers in winter? We are still very much in the middle of winter in Japan but Shizuoka Prefecture is celebrated in all Japan as the first Prefecture to have its cherry trees blossom!
The cherry blossom flowers first open as early as February on the eastern shores of Izu Peninsula, especially in Kawazu! From then on cherry blossom fans chase their favorite flower all around and up the Prefecture until the end of May!
The picture of the day, which is blooming: the pine tree or the cherry tree?
Sumpu Castle Park in the middle of Shizuoka City offers many possibilities for photographers whether they want to take only cherry blossoms or take them among the many trees and flower beds.
Flower beds are tended to and renewed all year round
These blossoms might make for a great picture at night
Mind you, simple photographs are still the best most of the time
Sumpu castle park cherry blossoms also make for splendid photographs when walking around the outer moats
As far I can figure out, at least two varieties are blooming – although they could be the same one
These cherry blossom trees can be found in the vicinity of Sumpu Castle in Shizuoka, although the variety grown over the ramparts is different and not out at the same time
You may well plan your cherry blossom viewing in and around Sumpu Castle Park from the third week, if not the second week of March, as the weather can dramatically change here. The Shizuoka City Festival is supposed to be held at the best time for cherry blossom viewing but I wouldn’t trust such wishful thinking.
Walking on a cherry blossom petal path
Walking around the moats you will discover some real old trees on the “city side” of the street
It does make for some interesting photography
This cherry blossom tree must have seen quite a few eras pass by
Not only photographing, but drawing the flowering trees is quite a popular passtime for the locals
Depending on the sun exposure some blossoms will open earlier over the ramparts
Incidentally, did you know that all the cherry trees offered by Japan to the United States during the Meiji Era originated from one single tree in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka?
“Of all places!”, you might say and I tend to agree as the occupants of Mizuochi Police Box in Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City, are famously hopeless in a city where’s crime is almost unknown and where the police are reduced to lurk on bicycles behind large signs to catch traffic offenders.
I didn’t include the police box in my pictures lest its denizens use it as a proof of my malfeasance
The Mizuochi Police Box is located at the corner of Kitakaido Street and the Eastern Wall of Sumpu Castle Park.
There you can admire the flowers, the wall and part of its moat.
It is a great spot for cherry blossom viewing, although it will last only a few days especially if rain is in the forecast
The trees are perched on top of the wall and cascade down to the moat
Good (not like me!) photographers should be able to avoid modern distractions and achieve great results
Cherry blossoms inside the Sumpu Castle Park
If you still have cherry trees in full blossom on a weekend, expect big crowds inside the park
Cherry blossom viewing parties are called “Hanami” (flower viewing) in Japanese. It is a great time to make new friends among the locals.
Many people just come to admire the blossoms overhead…
But many will gather in day time to share lunch. If you want to join one the many reveling parties among the flowers in the evening, make sure you remember the spot or join a group long beforehand.
Robert-Gilles Martineau, a 40-year French resident in Shizuoka and japan has been blogging and writing about his love for Japanese gastronomy and tourism in three languages since 1998.
His motto: "There is always a new place to visit and a new food to taste out there!"
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