Like falling snowflakes

Cherry blossoms bloom, the petals fall, and then the dust of the petals enriches the soil around the cherry trees. Cherry blossoms can bloom beautifully again. Life continues year by year. (March 23, 1691. Translation of original haiku by Matsuo Bashō)

When we visited Goryokaku Park in Hakodate with the cherry blossoms in full bloom, I was  wowed by the scale and beauty of the flowers.  I thought it couldn’t get any better.  I was wrong.

The next day, we made our way to another popular cherry blossom spot in Hokkaido – Matsumae Park.

Matsumae Park surrounds the Matsumae Castle – the only full castle built in Hokkaido. Although Matsumae Castle survived World War II, it was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1949 and reconstructed.  We had visited the interior of the castle during our last trip a few years ago, and it was a little bit of a yawn.  This time round, we headed straight for the park, right into 10,000 cherry blossom trees. Woohoo!

With 250 varieties of cherry blossom trees in the park, it’s no wonder that the hanami season at Matsumae lasts an entire month.  Different varieties bloom at different times, and with a palette of pinks, whites and green, it made for an interesting and gorgeous landscape.

While the mood at Goryokaku Park was festive with families and picnic mats spread out under the trees, the scene at Matsumae was different.  It was tranquil and serene.  People were strolling through the park, quietly taking in the delicate beauty of the flowers.

According to Buddhist tradition, the breathtaking but brief beauty of the cherry blossoms symbolizes the transient nature of life.  As many of the trees in Matsumae Park had reached full bloom a  week earlier, pretty pink petals carpeted the paths.  And as I watched as petals fluttered in the gentle breeze like falling snowflakes, I was humbly reminded that life is short, and we need to savour every moment.

Mapcode: 862 058 229

Itinerary (Day 3): Hakodate Morning Market — Matsumae Park — Hakodate Park — Red Brick Warehouses (Kanemori Warehouse)