It’s been a while since I’ve written an Outsiders in Okinawa post, but I figured cherry blossoms were the perfect way to get back in the groove! Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are kind of a big deal in Japan. Cherry blossoms are in bloom for a very short period of time, and as such are symbolic of the ephemeral nature of life—embodied in the Japanese phrase mono no aware, meaning the pathos of things, and referring to the heightened appreciation for lively beauty and sadness at its impermanence. Millions flock to different parts of Japan every spring to catch the flowers in their notoriously unpredictable prime. They bloom earliest on Okinawa because of how far south the island is located, typically flowering in mid to late January. Cherry blossoms then bloom across mainland Japan, making an appearance in Tokyo in March and blooming in Hokkaido as late as April. We visited Mt. Yae (or Yaedake), home of Sakura no Mori Park and thousands of sakura trees, to partake in hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. Mt. Yae is north of Nago near Motobu, so if you live near Camps Kinser and Foster or Kadena Air Base, be prepared for a drive. There are several different entrances to the park, but I’ll include a pin for the spot we went to off of the Expressway and Route 58. You’ll come across a small bakery selling fresh bread and mikan juice (so good!), and you can either continue driving or park and walk through the rest of the park.
It’s free to enter Mt. Yae, but I highly recommend bringing yen for fun sakura-themed treats being sold in booths along the road. There are bathrooms and vending machines throughout the park, and there are other attractions as well—a small shrine, a large playground, and views of Motobu and Ie Island. If hanami isn’t on your Okinawa bucket list, it should be! You don’t want to miss these stunning flowers in bloom. | xo