Japan has some of the most picturesque sightseeing spots in the world, including 24 Unesco World Heritage Sites ranging from traditional villages to iconic shrines and temples. The subtropical islands of Okinawa is home to a handful of these sites including the beautiful Nakijin Castle Ruins on the main island of Okinawa. What makes the ruins even more spectacular are the winter cherry blossoms which bloom on the grounds from late January to early February. This year marks the 15th annual Nakijin Gusuku Sakura Festival, and best of all, you can participate from anywhere in the world.
While you can still visit the ancient castle grounds to see the cherry blossoms during the day, the evening illuminations have been moved online due to Covid-19. This means you can catch a glimpse of Japan’s famous sakura festivities well ahead of spring – and from the comfort of your couch. You can see the 2021 illumination in the tweet above.
The sakura variety that blooms here is known as kanhi-zakura, and the trees are currently in full bloom around the castle ruins. You can live-stream the light show daily from 7.30pm until Sunday February 6. The YouTube live-stream will be active for approximately 30 minutes and you can access it here.
If the timing doesn’t work out for you, don’t worry. You can still watch the previous streams through the official YouTube channel. Throughout the live-stream, you’ll be able to see the ancient castle walls, built with Ryukyu limestone, lit up with colourful lights as well as rows of sakura trees highlighted with changing coloured illuminations.
Do note that if you plan on visiting the festival during the day, you must register your attendance in advance. For more information, visit the website (Japanese only).
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