Sakura Season – Cherry Blossoms in High Park
From March to May is cherry blossom season. You don’t have to travel to Japan just to seem though. Toronto has its own little orchard of cherry blossoms in High Park! Their beauty has given them a place in Asian culture with traditions and customs surrounding the blooming season.
Cherry Blossoms in Japanese Culture
Cherry blossoms, also known as “sakura” or “Japanese cherry” are native to Japan. Their name is comes from the word “saku” which means to bloom or smile. Today, they can be found in many different countries around the world. The majority of them are located in Japan, Korea and China but there are some in Australia, France, Germany and India too. Here in Toronto, we have some cherry blossoms in High Park. We’ll get to other locations near the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that you can view these beautiful flowers.
They are a very significant symbol in Japanese culture. Just like how the maple leaf is the arboreal emblem of Canada, the cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan. Sakura also makes an appearance in other Asian cultures, although less commonly.
These beautiful pale blossoms symbolize spring because it is a time of renewal. They also symbolize the fleeting nature of life since the blossoms are very short-lived. After their beauty peaks for around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall. This is why sakura is known as the embodiment of beauty and mortality in Japan.
Something that seems to be a culturally universal phenomenon is naming children after flowers. Here in North America naming your daughter Rose, Lily, Jasmine, Violet, Iris or Holly is quite normal. In Japan, “Sakura” is one of the most popular names for children and even fictional characters!
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How to Celebrate the Season
In Japan, there is a whole festival surrounding the cherry blossom season. Hanami, meaning “flower viewing” is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the cherry blossoms. The fleeting nature of this eagerly anticipated yearly phenomenon floods worldwide news. There are even special forecast channels that predict when the flowers will bloom in different regions of Japan so no one misses out. The cherry blossoms in High Park even have their own forecast. Check to see when the bloom will start here.
Viewing the flowers is definitely breathtaking. Picnics underneath the falling petals adds to the entire experience but you don’t have to actually see the flowers to celebrate Hanami. You can enjoy traditional Hanami treats or sakura-inspired foods too.
Did you know cherry blossom petals are edible? The petals and leaves are often pickled and salted. Their aroma is also extracted as a flavouring and infused into foods too. The most popular recipe to enjoy while viewing the cherry blossoms is Sakura Mochi. You can find more delicious recipes to plan the perfect cherry blossom-inspired picnic here.
Cherry Blossoms in High Park
You don’t have to travel all the way to Japan to view the flowers. Even though Canada has harsher climates, you can find cherry blossoms here! Here are the top 5 places to see them.
1. Cherry Blossoms in High Park
Of course, the most popular location in Toronto to see the cherry blossoms is at High Park. It has the largest population the trees and people flock to the park every year to have picnics and take pictures of the phenomenon.
2. Trinity Bellwoods Park
The second-largest population of the trees is at Trinty-Bellwoods. While still crowded, you will get to see a variety of colours with both the iconic pink trees but also white!
3. Birkdale Ravine
A more subtle location near Thomson Memorial Park, the cherry blossoms in this area create a tree tunnel near the Pomeroy Street and Lyon Heights Road entrance.
4. Mini Japan in Kiriya Park
For those a bit further from Toronto, you can enjoy the bloom at Kiriya Park in Mississauga. The Japanese-style park symbolizes a special relationship between Mississauga and its sister city, Kiriya, in Japan.
5. Centennial Park
And finally, the last spot on our list to see cherry blossoms is Centennial Park in Etobicoke. The trees grow along Rathburn Road on Centennial Park Boulevard and northeast of Centennial Park Conservatory.
While the season is short, we hope this list helps you enjoy the cherry blossoms! Let us know how much you love them by sharing and tagging us in your photos on social media at Dumpling Connection!