February is Cherry Blossom Time in Waimea, HI!
The age-old tradition of hanami (cherry blossom viewing party) is celebrated on Hawai’i Island every first Saturday in February. We are so lucky to be here for this event! During the annual Waimea Cherry Blosson Heritage Festival, when cool-climate Waimea which is often back-dropped by a wintry white summit atop Mauna Kea, boasts an eruption of pink cherry blossoms.
Scroll down to learn more about the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival and hanami traditions…
Cherry trees line the driveway of the property we care take.
Think pink for the Waimea Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival!
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017
This year’s event honors the festival’s long-time shuttle bus service provider, Roberts Hawaii, and Waimea’s Guiness World Record holder Betty Webster, who boasts the world’s largest collection of sunglasses. Look for pink banners identifying site locations sprawling throughout town. More event info…
From the KeOla Magazine‘s Spring edition, celebrating the arts, culture, and sustainability of Hawai’i Island:
Harking from seventh-century Japan, hanami celebrates the fleeting beauty of nature while heralding the arrival of spring. Japanese aristocrats of the day would gather under blossoming trees and write poetry or draw the beauty of sakura (cherry blossoms).
As the blossoms are short-lived, poets used sakura as a metaphor for life itself – beautiful, yet temporary.
By Japan’s Endo Period (1600 – 1867) citizens from all walks of life participated in hanami, with customs including mountain hikes to find blossoming trees for a picnic, complete with sake.
Today, hanami continues in Japan, with people gathering for eating, drinking, and music wherever flowering trees are found. Popular cherry blossom locations get crowded so protocol dictates the claiming of a picnic spot. Best practice guidelines are shared at Japan-Guide.com.
|Treat the trees carefully. Do not pull on or shake branches. Do not pick blossoms. Don’t climb the trees. Don’t stand on the trees’ roots.|
|Take proper care of your garbage. Note that some parks do not have garbage bins. Be prepared to take your garbage home.|
|Check and respect local rules. They differ from park to park. Many parks do not allow barbecuing. Some have a curfew in the evenings. A few do not allow alcoholic beverages.|
In the US, hanami has caught on, as numerous municipalities have been gifted with cherry trees from Japan as a gesture of friendship.
Cherry trees first came to Waimea in 1953 as a living memorial to Fred Makino, founder of Hawaii’s Japanese language newspaper, Hawaii Hochi. In 1975, the Lions Club planted numerous trees throughout Waimea to commemorate the visit of Emperor Hirohito and his wife to Hawai’i and honor the first Japanese immigrants who settled in Waimea 100 years before.
The Church Row Park in Waimea is currently home to about 75 cherry trees.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a yearly community event in Waimea. Originating at Church Row Park in 1994, the festival has evolved over the years to involve numerous community organizations offering fun activities at multiple venues. While activities vary each year and venues come and go, the festival always offers hands on fun like mochi pounding, bonsai demonstrations, traditional Japanese tree ceremonies, sake tasting, quilting instructions and bon dancing. You will also be able to browse numerous food booths.
The festivals average annual attendance is around 60,000 visitors! While the festival is centered on the blooming trees at Church Row Park, which are pretty in pink, the diversity of activities and multiple venues offers something for everyone.
Have you been to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Waimea, HI? Leave us a comment below.
Nick & Silke Jager