The cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese) open on the island of Okinawa in January, each year.
Michael Lynch, an American photographer, travel writer and long time resident of Okinawa shares some of his images, taken over the years, to demonstrate the sights you may see during sakura season in the southernmost prefecture of Japan.
The Japanese White Eye (Mejiro) are attracted to the cherry blossoms and, it is one of the few times, a year, these skittish birds will hold still long enough to pose for a photo.
It has been said, it takes a cold snap of weather, to start this breed of flower budding. To the local population, it is a sure sign of spring. The cherry blossoms, hang, facing downwards, like pink bells.
Unlike the sakura, seen in mainland Japan, these cherry trees originated in southern China and Taiwan.
Mt. Yaedake, on the Motobu Peninsula, is where the cherry blossoms, normally bloom first.
Local school children may be seen visiting on field trips, along with their families and teachers.
Photographers, of all skill levels may be seen, chasing the sakura, as this is a sign, winter will soon end.
Tour buses take the elderly, up the mountains to pose among the blossoms.
The brilliant shades of pink flowers, seem to light-up the hills and, are a sure sign of more temperate climate in the days ahead.
Nago Mountain, is the next location, cherry blossoms start to sprout. It may appear, to be spring, with art students, sketching the scenery but, this photo was taken on the second day of February!
Shrines and temples are popular places to visit during cherry blossom season and, many locations celebrate with festivals, lasting, into the night.
But, you can also go off the beaten paths and, find a single cherry tree in bloom, next to a small sacred site.
Average Temperatures During January and February
The temperatures on Okinawa during cherry blossom season range from 16-19 degrees Celsius.
Most people wear or, carry a light jacket, as it can seem chilly at higher elevations.
For planning purposes, excellent, down-loadable PDF files are available at Japan National Tourist Organization, under Okinawa, Practical Travel Guide – 709.
Or, e-brochure downloads on the Visit Okinawa official website.
When the temperature in Australia seems unbearable, think about visiting Okinawa during Cherry Blossom Season. You won’t be disappointed.
All images by Michael Lynch. All rights reserved.
Michael Lynch has more images on Okinawa on his website.
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