Even though I am studying abroad and probably wouldn’t have known about this event, visiting Japan during the month of February offers a unique opportunity to witness the Plum Blossom Festival, held every year on February 25th. Although cherry blossoms are more well-known, plum blossoms are equally beautiful and offer their own unique charm. I had the opportunity to experience the festival at the Kitano Tenmangū shrine, which is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The festival included a flea market with a lot of traditional Japanese sweets, food, and clothing. It was really interesting to see people selling kimonos for 500 to 1,000 yen (about 4 to 10 USD). However, the highlight of the festival was the famous outdoor tea ceremony called Baikasai, held every February. Visitors enjoy green tea served by Geiko and Maiko, traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and perform various arts such as traditional dance, music, and games. It’s a unique and unforgettable experience to be served by these skilled entertainers and to witness their artistry. My friends and I woke up extremely early to get in line for the tea ceremony, and we were lucky to be among the 3,000 people who were served. It was shocking looking up how many people were served and how many people could be served. 3,000 people is a lot of people, but it still made it seem exclusive to an extent.
The rest of the festival was equally gorgeous. Plum blossoms bloom into beautiful shades of pink and purple, and they are a sight to behold. The festival is a great opportunity to witness the beauty of the plum blossoms and experience Japanese culture. If you ever find yourself in Japan during February, it is an experience you shouldn’t miss, even if it means waiting in line! I will be here for 5 more months and can not wait to experience more places with such history.