Thousands turn out for cherry blossom festival in Tokyo
By AARON KIDD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 4, 2016
TOKYO — Thousands of people gathered under pink and white petals at Ueno Park over the weekend to enjoy one of Japan’s most popular cherry blossom festivals.
The annual springtime celebration, called Ueno Sakura Matsuri, revolves around the blooms of 800 cherry trees, some of which were planted more than 400 years ago. Hundreds of lanterns, known as bonbori, illuminate the popular flowers for evening visitors.
Ueno Park, formerly part of a nearby 15th-century Buddhist temple, was established in 1873 as one of Tokyo’s first public green spaces. A cultural gathering place that hosts a number of notable museums and shrines, the expansive park features Japan’s first zoo, art museum and monorail.
Other popular park attractions include a statue of Saigo Takamori — one of history’s most influential samurai — and the face of a bronze Buddha statue dating to 1631 that broke apart during an earthquake that devastated Tokyo in 1923.