Korean Cherry Blossom Season
Although I enjoy each season as it comes, I find that at the end of summer and winter, I am well and truly ready for the leaves to fall, or the weather to warm. In Melbourne, I find the end of winter a bit of a struggle to get through, and when the clouds part and those first warming rays of sunshine hit, I am overjoyed. Judging by the amount of people rolling out picnic blankets in parks, I believe I am not alone in this. I think this feeling may be even stronger in Korea.
Korean winter is a pretty cold one. Think ice, snow and bare branches. It can look pretty barren out a train window. When not covered in snow, it is very dry, the long miscanthus grasses iconic in those historical Korean dramas have long since turned to a golden yellow.
So when spring finally arrives, the first sign (aside from the snowmelt), is the budding cherry blossom trees, lining old paved roads particularly in the countryside, and along city walking paths. The delicate pink Korean cherry blossoms flowers are like a new falling snow. Confetti of the springtime. The cherry blossom season is fleeting, so there is a build up to it reported in newspapers and on television. It lasts a couple of weeks, so weekend travel and picnic items are planned well in advance. Cherry blossom viewing, or flower watching, is the number one activity everyone wants to do the moment spring hits in Korea.
Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival is the place to be. Whole cities are seemingly deserted as a wave of people make their way down to Jinhae at the bottom of the mighty Korean peninsula. It is a nice little city overlooking the water, and seemingly every street is lined with cherry blossom trees. Scenic views from the surrounding mountains, as well as up close along the banks of streams, and old train lines. Food vendors sell all things cherry flavoured and pink coloured.
But really, you don’t need to make your way down to the festival. Seeing cherry blossom trees en masse is quite a spectacle, but don’t look past the understated local roads whether it be in an old Seoul neighbourhood, a small country town, or even a lonely old tree in the middle of a field. All these places are particularly special; as the delicate cherry blossom buds bloom, and fall, we are reminded of the beauty of the fleeting moments, the end of winter, the passing of time, and the summer about to unfurl.
Written by Brett Allen