Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival
There are many cherry blossom festivals, or Sakura Matsuri, which happen throughout Okinawa each year. This year we headed to some of the Sakura Matsuri that caught our eye and thought that we would tell you all about them. After heading to the Nakijin 6th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival we found ourselves driving around the Motobu Peninsula for a while looking for somewhere to eat. We were not anticipating heading to Yaedake as we had been there for the first cherry blossoms of the season but we drove by the entrance of the mountain and figured that we might as well head up that was and see the blossoms. As soon as we turned onto the road we knew that we were in for a treat.
The festival takes place on the beautiful Yaedake. On any given day this location is beautiful enough but during late winter and early spring the mountain road is lined with beautiful cherry blossom trees. The festival grounds are located at the park on the mountain. The park is great especially for little ones with a large playground area to include a huge roller slide. During the festival, however, that playground is just the beginning of the excitement. A stage and large seating area was set with various entertainment and food booths lined the entire perimeter of the park.
For the past few events we have managed to miss the festivities so the smell of matsuri food and the sound of music immediately put a smile on our faces. The booths themselves featured not only the matsuri food that you know and love as well as some special treats for the seasons. A particular booth sold sakura mochi another features hashi made from the wood of cherry blossom trees. There were also soba shops and some fried beef booth which was to die for.
Aside from the standard booth for food and games there were also other activities such as a velcro wall, bouncy castle and even this large pool of water that had these floating hamster wheels in them for your water treading pleasure. If playing in the grass is more your thing then there was plenty of space for that too.
To be completely honest there wasn't too much that I would call "bad". We did notice, however that there were absolutely no trash cans or bags anywhere on the property. Of course not having trash cans is standard practice in Japan but it's not often that you will see a festival completely void of trash cans.
The ugly for this event is the apparently broken men's bathroom. Of course this was not an actual reflection on the actual event itself but it was the only thing that we experienced that day that we could call "ugly".
Overall the event was everything that we were looking for in a cherry blossom festival. The music, the food and no shortage of cherry blossoms made for a great time. Driving up the beautiful winding mountain road with the blossoms on either side of you is just wonderful and then walking to the site itself amongst the blossoms was just wonderful. You could also enjoy a walk under the blossoms on the mountain road as well but we opted out because we arrived so late in the day. Overall this is our favorite cherry blossom festival to date.