Seeing a cherry blossom tree in full bloom is truly a sight to behold. Its blooming marks the end of winter and the coming of spring. In Japan, it also symbolizes the nation’s deep-rooted belief that life’s immense beauty cannot last forever.
First glimpse in Kyushu
Every year, tourists from all over the world come to visit the different cherry blossom spots in Japan. However, one can have the first glimpse of blooming Sakura leaves in Kyushu, where the much-anticipated seasonal cycle starts.
There are countless parks where people can practice hanami or “flower-viewing” in Kyushu. One can head to its capital, Fukuoka, or Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki or Kagoshima, as cherry blossoms in each destination are set to bloom from late March to early April.
Located in the southernmost part of Japan, Kyushu is bound to be the first to experience the change in season. In the following months, the cycle moves upward to Osaka, Kyoto, mainland Tokyo, Hokkaido and cities in other islands.
Bask in Fukuoka’s rich culture
Fukuoka is one of the largest and most active cities in Japan. When the castle town of Fukuoka merged with the port town of Hakata in 1889, the city became progressive while maintaining its rich culture. Hakata remains to be the central district in Fukuoka and contains the JR Hakata Station, the main railway station that transports people all over the city. The Fukuoka Airport is also as accessible as the other forms of transportation available, ranging from local bus lines to long-distance buses.
Home to more than a thousand cherry blossom trees, the most popular parks in Fukuoka are Fukuoka Castle (Maizuri Park), Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, and Nishi Park (Nishi Koen), all just about a few minutes’ walk from the nearest train stations.
Aside from the alluring Sakura tree parks, the capital of Kyushu also houses a variety of other tourist destinations. For enthusiasts of history and culture, the Fukuoka Castle ruins, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, and the Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan (a folk museum that recreated townhouses from the late Meiji era) are the places to be. When it comes to food, the Kagomma Furusato Yataimura food stalls, as well as the noodles in Ichiran is a must-taste for foodies and enthusiasts alike, while the rural beaches in Nokonoshima and Shikanoshima will surely delight the adventurous-at-heart.
Complete your Fukuoka-Kyushu experience
The island of Kyushu and its capital Fukuoka serves as Japan’s gateway to its neighbouring countries, making it a melting pot of different cultures. Fukuoka, as a destination, can truly provide historical and cultural experiences for everyone to enjoy.
Its rich geography boasts of charming qualities that are second to none. Scattered all over Kyushu are Onsens or “hot springs,” brought to life by vibrant volcanic activity, making Kyushu a must-visit for tourists looking for relaxation. A 4-hour drive from Fukuoka, Aoshima beach in Miyazaki has shallow waters perfect for a refreshing dip on hot summer days. About an hour and-a-half away from Fukuoka is the Kumamoto Prefecture, with hills and plains that glow green during the summer season, fit for an artistic eye that appreciates nature’s profound beauty.
These are just some of the activities that one can enjoy in Fukouka and the rest of Kyushu. With a lot more to discover, it is definitely an out-of-the-box experience for visitors that complements the fleeting beauty of the Sakura Festivals.
Starting December 17, 2015, explore and experience the different destinations that make Kyushu stand out, with the rest of the wonders of Japan, with Cebu Pacific’s new Fukuoka route. For more information and flight bookings, visit www.cebupacificair.com.