It’s cherry blossom season, that special time of year when everyone else in Canada gets a hate-on for Vancouver.
We do love our cherry blossoms. But honestly, we’re not bragging when we post all those fairy tales photos of perfect pink blossoms canopied over courtyards. We’re actually intoxicated by the sweet scent as we drift along sidewalks strewn with magical snow-like carpeting. Forgive us.
As much as Vancouver loves its cherry trees, we’ve got nothing on Japan. Especially not Tokyo, which goes cherry-blossom mad for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). It’s been only 10 years since the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival got off the ground. But now it’s the best garden festival in Canada, as voted by the 2015 Garden Tourism Awards. Oh, sorry. Is that bragging?
The month-long festivities hit their peak this weekend, with the Sakura Days Japan Fair at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Many of the blossoms, alas, have already been shed. They bloomed two weeks earlier than normal this year. But thanks to the cool nights, the ones that are left and still to come are said to be the fluffiest ever.
So take some time to stop and smell the flowers – or perhaps admire them from afar. Here are our top five favourite ways to get your cherry on.
Every good festival involves food. There will dozens of food vendors at the Japan Fair, which is also promoting a month-long feast with special menu items at participating restaurants. Here’s the map. Though not mentioned on the list, Minami’s sister restaurant Miku is featuring an excellent $18.00 sakura roll garnished with salted sakura flowers.
Still hungry? Tojo’s Restaurant is hosting the Sakura Night Feast, a standing dinner reception featuring special dishes from some of the best Japanese restaurants in the city.
In Japan, it’s traditional to drink sake while viewing the cherry blossoms. If the petals fall in your cup, they’re said to bring good luck. But there are other ways to indulge. For the month of April, Bella Gelateria is featuring sake sorbetto.
The Japanese immerse themselves in the blooms by picnicking under the trees on ugly blue tarps. The tarps are intentionally ugly because nothing is supposed to compete with the beauty of the blossoms. Here in Vancouver, we have our own traditions. And this year, Bing Thom Architects designed gorgeous origami-like petal mats, which are being sold for $20. We love the zips, which allow you to zip up to other blossom lovers and create a big mat.WALK/BIKE IT ALL OFF
What are your thoughts on cherry blossom season in Vancouver? Tweet us at @ViewTheVibe.