It's January in the Goya Republic and that means it's Cherry Blossom time. The very first cherry blossom festivals in all of Japan happen right here in Okinawa and the first of them all is at Mt. Yaedake in Motobu town.
At just over 1500 feet high, Mt. Yaedake is the second highest peak on Okinawa. It was the site of a U.S. military communications station and base from shortly after the war all the way up to and through most of the 1970's.
The base was upgraded through the years and became a fully automated facility. To show their thanks to the people of Motobu, when the base personnel moved out, the U.S. military offered to thank the people of Motobu by building something for them. Instead of a new school building or a library, the people of Motobu asked that the road leading to the top of Yaedake be lined with cherry trees.
Today over 7000 blossoming Taiwanese cherry trees line the snake like winding road to the top of the mountain. About a third of the way up is Sakura no Mori Koen or Cherry Tree Forest Park. Each year the people of Motobu hold a festival on these grounds to celebrate the blossoming cherry trees and welcome the coming of spring.
This story is one of the success stories in American and Okinawan relations. The cherry trees will blossom from about mid January till late February. Sometimes the blossoms last into early March. This year a cold snap around the new year caused the blossoms to pop a little earlier than usual. These pictures were taken on the 11th of January and Mankai (full bloom) is expected to happen around the weekend of the 24th.
Cherry blossom festivals across Northern Okinawa begin on January 17th right here at Mt. Yaedake and are also viewable at nearby Nakijin Castle. The castle will be illuminated for night viewing. There will also be cherry blossom festivals in Nago, down south in Naha and Yaese Town.
For those of you already here on Okinawa, make it a point to get out of your houses and see this rare treat. The blossoms will only last a few days once they reach full bloom. For those of you who can only see them via the internet, enjoy.
With the coming spring we're featuring one of our flowering photo art prints available through our affiliation with Zazzle. Print it as a poster to frame yourself or have it blown up and ready framed for you. The folks at Zazzle can do it all for you.
You can also click on the title to this post to see the rest of our Zazzle Gallery and some more great Goya Republic products to choose from. So what are you waiting for? You're only a click away from adopting a whole new Latitude!