Most Popular Hokkaido Spring Events and Festivals 2019
Sapporo’s ‘Ume Matsuri’ (Plum Festival) is somewhat unlike other Japanese festivals in that it has no religious origins. The aim of the festival is simply to celebrate the bright beauty of the pink, red & white plum blossoms – a sign that winter is coming to an end, and spring is on its way. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to this wonderful spring event taking place in Hiraoka Park in Hokkaido.
The origin of Hiraoka Park’s plum festival remains unclear; however, it is one of the most widely known spring festivals in the region – Hiraoka Park itself being a famed sightseeing spot for viewing these brilliantly colored flowers.
Situated in the suburbs of Sapporo City, Hokkaido, Hiraoka Park is home to over 1,200 plum blossom trees. Each year between late April and mid-May, once the plum blossoms have come into full bloom, the ‘Hiraoka Koen ume matsuri’ – (‘Hiraoka Park Plum Festival’) takes place.
For the duration of the festival, a temporary shop is set up, selling hard-to-find plum blossom flavored seasonal food and treats. Over 100000 people visit the park to see the plum blossoms every year in May.
In the shop, ‘Hiraoka Ume Honpo,’ visitors can also purchase various plum flavored dishes to take away, including soba and udon noodle dishes containing plum in the soup; plum blossom flavored ice cream and cheesecake, as well as a huge variety of other plum flavored sweets.
Having no sacred ceremony or religious origins, visitors are free to leisurely enjoy the beauty of the blossoms in mass-bloom, and you can take as many photographs as you wish. A great choice for a group outing, I recommend going with friends or family, bringing your own drinks & snacks and enjoying a spring picnic under the plum trees (don’t eat too much, or you won’t have any room left to try any of Hiraoka Ume Honpo’s specialty dishes!).
If you have a car, you can easily access other nearby sightseeing spots.
Sapporo Hitsujigaoka Observation Hill (a famous scenic spot) is just a 20 minutes drive away, and the iconic Sapporo Beer factory is just a 25-minute drive. Sapporo City Centre is approximately 30 minutes away.
Dates: 27th April – 19th May 2019
Place: Hiraoka Park
Address: Hiraoka-koen 2, Kiyota-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, Japan
Entrance fee: none
Official website: http://www.sapporo-park.or.jp/hiraoka/
Access: 10 mins. by bus from Oyachi station (underground Tozai line)
Car park: about 350 parking spaces（free of charge, open 6 am-9 pm）
(Additional 7000 parking spaces available during festival dates)
When it comes to seasonal festivals, Japan’s copious flower festivals are hard to beat. Whether it’s the soft pinks of the spring cherry blossoms, the rich reds, and golds of autumn, or, as in this case, the brilliant pinks and reds heralding the long winter’s end, with their lively atmosphere, delicious local food and convenient facilities, a trip to Japan just isn’t complete without a flower festival experience.
If you would like a local guide to take you to this festival or take you to other flower events in Hokkaido, please check the banner below.
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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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