As the winter breeze slowly but surely retreats, warmth starts to seep into the air. People have started to abandon their long coats and thick undergarments and opt to switch to a lighter wear instead. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and sprouts of new life are popping out of the ground.
At last, spring is finally here.
And when it comes to spring, particularly in Japan, everyone goes out to celebrate it with a bang. Once the iconic cherry blossom or sakura trees fully bloom (also known as mankai), people will gather in groups and go out to famous cherry blossom spots all over the country for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. This year is no different.
In Osaka, there are many locations with beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots, such as the iconic Osaka Castle. This time, I would like to introduce a district where a huge part of it is covered in cherry blossoms, Sakuranomiya.
Sakuranomiya (which literally means "Sakura Temple"), is located in Miyakojima-ku, right in between the ever-busy urban districts of Kyobashi and Tenma. This district prides itself in the famous cherry blossoms and greenery. The garden, Kema-Sakuranomiya Garden, is situated on Yodo river terrace between Kema Ariezaki and Tenmabashi.
For a view of the cherry blossoms on a river, there are piers that provide tourist boats and light cruising services for your sakura viewing pleasure.
Other than Kema-Sakuranomiya Park, there is also the Japan Mint, home to at least 350 cherry blossom trees of about 130 varieties. During spring, the Japan Mint opens its road, called "sakura no toori-nuke," to the public. This year, from April 11 - 17, the 560-meter riverside lane will be available from 10 AM to 9 PM on weekdays and 9 AM to 9 PM on the weekends. There will also be food and drink stands situated on the riverside, so be sure not to miss it!
For the special occasion, Osaka’s Municipal Transportation Bureau has provided a Sakura Bus service, which will leave from Osaka Station and Kyobashi subway station to Sakuranomiya Bridge and vice versa from April 11th to April 17th. One trip using the bus will cost 210 yen for adults and 110 yen for children. However, a special card called the “Enjoy Eco Card” can also be used for the Sakura Bus and other transportation services. This card costs 800 yen during weekdays and 600 yen during weekends for adults and 300 yen for children. The schedule for the bus can be found on the official site of Osaka’s Municipal Transportation bureau, here (Japanese).
Kema-Sakuranomiya Park is approximately 5 minutes from JR Sakuranomiya Station’s West Exit by walking. It is also accessible through JR Kyobashi Station and Kyobashi subway station by either 20 to 30 minutes of walking or by the aforementioned Sakura Bus. It is also possible to take a long approximately 40-minute stroll from JR Tenma station to the Park through Tenmabashi Bridge. To get to Japan Mint from Kema-Sakuranomiya Park, simply cross the Sakuranomiya Bridge. Use the road above or the pathway below the bridge. Bicycles are also allowed on the park so feel free to leisurely stride your way through the cherry blossom path.
For your sakura viewing trip, make sure to bring masks to protect yourself from pollen if you have any allergies. Also, please make sure not to break or climb on the sakura trees, as it is very rude and damages the trees. With that said, have fun!