Cherry Blossom "Sakura" is just unique because unlike other flowering trees “Sakura” first offers the flowers and then sprouts its leaves. This is what makes Sakura peculiar to its other spring counterparts. Countless light colored flowers blooming in the black branches makes the color combination perfect. One more element needed and then nothing can beat its beauty i.e. a clear blue sky above. On a fine sunny day when grasses below are already green and sky above is purely blue “ Hanami” becomes a life time experience.
Cherry Blossom "Sakura" bloom is observed as a colorful festival in Japan. It indicates the arrival of spring in Japan. The festival named as "Hanami" literally means viewing flowers, but it generally indicates cherry blossom viewing. It's said that the origin of Hanami dates back to more than one thousand years ago when aristocrats enjoyed looking at beautiful cherry blossoms and wrote poems.
Well , there are several popular spots for Hamani in Niigata but "Takada park" is positioned in the top list of the must see places for Sakura bloom in overall Japan. Living in Niigata, I find myself lucky to be able to visit this gorgeous park during the Sakura bloom. I visited Takada park for Hamani two years ago and I intend to go back again this year with my husband and our group of close friends. Can’t wait for the few more weeks before Cherry flowers are at peak of their youth and beauty . Cherry Blossom will be at its full bloom in Takada Park during the mid April. Weather by then also becomes wonderful in Niigata.
Takada hosts a beautiful three storied Takada Castle that is beautiful anyways but Sakura bloom adds much more beauty to the castle. We did not enter the castle at that time as we were lured very much by the beauty of blooming Sakura outdoors. There are around 4, 000 cherry blossom trees in this park and that covers all the varieties of Sakura. My personal favorite pinkish ones with low hanging branches are also in abundance in this park. What makes this site very attractive for the tourists is the way the road also called “ Sakura Road” is formed with the rows of trees on either sides and their crown all full of cherry flowers . It is an amazing experience to walk through this path underneath the vivid Sakura petals. And again as I said earlier, a clear blue sky above is something that totally concludes the beauty package. I will encourage everyone to wait for a fine day before you visit this park.
There is also a lake in the park adding freshness to the whole park. Even the banks of the lake has those mature big Cherry trees, branches of which almost touches the water beneath. The lake water crystal clear appears more dazzling topped up with the fallen Sakura petals from those giant trees. The trees must have been hundreds of years old. They stand with pride exhibiting the full bloom of the utterly beautiful cherry flowers.
Any where in Japan, when there is a festival or attraction, my favorite happens to be the food stall. There is no such day when I will not treat myself to those yummy sausages dipped in mustard sauce, boiled potatoes with mayonnaise, fried gyoza and cotton candies among so many different food varieties they have at display. In Takada as well, during the Hanami, there are always large stalls of local Japanese cuisine in display to make watching the Sakura bloom even more enjoyable. However, as per the Japanese culture people will be seen everywhere in their mats eating their food under the Sakura tree. This is what is the main theme of Hanami. Many of them bring food of their own in elegant bento boxes but children will not spare them anyways from getting them an ice cream or a chocolate banana dip.
Finally, the another wonderful thing to experience is the after dark illumination in the park when each Sakura tree will be lit up with the lanterns that captivate the visitors. Imagine 4000 trees being lit up and the entire “Sakura Road” illuminated with the glorious light plus the beautiful flowers. That makes a breath taking scene so if you happen to be in Niigata during this spring, do not dare miss this opportunity.