Cherry Blossoms at the Osaka Mint
Extra special cherry blossom viewing at the Osaka Mint Bureau – it’s only open to the public for one week each year!
Sakura in Japan
Cherry blossom (sakura) season is huge in Japan – it signifies the end of winter, so people venture outside to celebrate. They have hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties – picnics and drinks under the fluffy blossoms. In popular parks it’s difficult to find a spot – the place really comes alive. And because Japanese loves seasonal specialties, there are special sakura-flavoured snacks and drinks – including my favourite: sakura matcha Kitkat!
Cherry Blossom Viewing at the Mint
I found out about the viewing from a print-out in reception when I checked into my hotel in Osaka. It was extremely lucky that my visit coincided with the single week in the year that the garden’s open to the public, so I decided to go along that evening.
I was nowhere near prepared for what was like! I’d expected a cherry blossom viewing to be a serene affair, appreciating the delicate beauty of the flowers. It turned out to be more like cherry blossom madness!
As soon as we got out of the station and saw all those people walking across the bridge, I could already see how popular it was. Usually I’m not a fan of busy places, but the crowds gave it such an amazing atmosphere – everyone was excited, taking pictures and it really felt like an event.
There was a 500m walkway of cherry blossom trees – that’s half a kilometre! I couldn’t believe how long it was. There were even police there to move people along if they were taking too long. It was absolutely amazing.
Japanese Street Food
Parallel to the walkway of trees, on the way back alongside the river were two rows of food stalls (both double-sided – that’s 2km of stands!) with every type of Japanese street food you can imagine. There was yakisoba, takoyaki, grilled fish, okonomiyaki on a stick, choco bananas, chilled cucumbers, taiyaki and lots more. They were similar stalls to what I’d seen at matsuri (festivals). It was really interesting to see what types of foods there are – they’re completely different from what you’d get at street food stands in the UK.
I wish I’d tried more, but we had ramen planned for that evening – although we did go back another night just for the food, and had the most delicious butter potatoes (jaga bata). I don’t know how they made them so tasty; I’ve tried several times to recreate them at home on the barbecue!
Catching Cherry Blossom Season
The blossoms don’t last very long, so it can be tricky to catch them. They’re around the end of March / start of April – earlier than you might think, because winter is shorter in Japan. Every year there’s a cherry blossom forecast showing the dates for first bloom and full bloom. With the variation in climate across Japan, they sweep across the country. So if you’re too early or late, travelling north or south can be a way to see them.
On this year the cherry blossoms started early so I didn’t think we’d get to see any. It was a lovely surprise to discover a few in Fukuoka (I was so excited), and then in Osaka they were in full bloom at the Mint. So if you think you might not see them, don’t give up hope! Really for me it was the experience of the viewing rather than the flowers themselves that made the evening so magical. I’m glad we went just as it was getting dark – it was busy but so atmospheric when the lanterns came on.
When’s the 2019 Cherry Blossom Viewing?
The cherry blossom viewing at the Mint is for a week in mid April. In 2019, the dates are the same as 2018 (do check before planning a trip in case they change it):
9-15 April 2019
How to Get to the Mint
The Mint is in the Osaka Castle area. Go to Temmabashi Station on the subway, then follow the crowds – everyone will be going to the same place and they put up special pink signs in the station to direct you to the correct exit.
It’s completely free – but you will want cash for all those food stands!
More Things to Do in Osaka
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