The Kimchi-ite: The End Of Cherry Blossom Season On Yeouido

Cherry blossoms mark the true beginning of spring, along with the arrival of glorious sunshine, refreshing breezes and all around spectacular picnic weather. Within Seoul, the most talked about place to see the blossoms is on Yeouido, a large island on the Han River where many of the tallest skyscrapers in Korea are located.

Yeouido’s Spring Flower Festival, which centers around the cherry blossoms, provides great views of the river, with streets closed off to car traffic, an impressive amount of food vendors and over 1,400 cherry blossom trees in less than a 4-mile stretch.

Sunset is the absolute perfect time to view cherry blossoms.

An entire evening can be set aside during cherry blossom season just to walk amongst the trees. It makes for a calmingly beautiful after-dinner treat and hardly gets boring, not even for those that never pay flowers any attention during the rest of the year, like myself.

While up close they aren’t remarkable; all together they make for an amazing sight.

Cherry blossoms are definitely worth planning a trip around, and crops like these aren’t only limited to Asia and Washington D.C. In Korea, the season typically runs from the end of March through almost all of April and there are numerous festivals built around them all over the country.

Streets all around Seoul are lined with beautiful rows of cherry blossoms.

After night falls on Yeouido, the trees are bathed in colored lights, heightening their light pink hues. It’s no wonder why so many photos are taken.

Yeouido lights up the trees at night, giving the flowers surreal colors.

As with most things even mildly popular in Seoul, there is always an enormous crowd on Yeouido during the peak blooming times.

Cherry blossoms are endlessly photogenic.

Unfortunately, cherry blossoms are incredibly fleeting and are now disappearing throughout Korea. No longer are the streets lined with gorgeous white flowers nor the light falling of its petals, marking the one time of year when gutters are actually beautiful.

A picnic under a cherry blossom tree is the perfect way to spend a spring afternoon.

As always, for more on Korean culture, food and oddities, read more from the Kimchi-ite here.

[All photos by Jonathan Kramer]

#OnTheRoad On Instagram: Seoul, South Korea

Cherry blossoms get me ridiculously excited. The gorgeous pinkish-white flowers last for only a couple of weeks, making them truly special. They are the one true indication that spring has started here in South Korea, where cherry blossoms line many streets and park walkways. Numerous festivals around the country are held in order to take full advantage or their limited blooming period. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing their wonderful colors on Instagram on @GadlingTravel as well as providing a window into the day-to-day lives of the people living in a country that has been in the news so much lately. Follow along and enjoy the flowers.

[Photo Credit: Jonathan Kramer]

Photo Of The Day: Sakura In Tokyo

Cherry blossom season is in full effect in Tokyo. The beautiful, pinkish flowers, sakura in Japanese, are in many ways intertwined with the country’s culture. The start of the fiscal and school years falls in line with the blossom season. Virtually all public schools and major company buildings will have at least one sakura tree out front and group pictures are taken at the start of a new session, taking full advantage of the fantastic colors.

It’s wildly popular to picnic underneath the trees; it’s so significant that the activity even has its own dedicated word in Japanese, hanami. Families will gather, eat and drink together, taking advantage of the fresh spring weather. As seen in this shot by Flickr user whitefield_d, many streets all over Japan are lined with cherry blossom trees, making for amazingly picturesque scenes during the brief two-week flowering season.

Share your own travel photos with us in our Gadling Flickr Pool and we may choose it to be our Photo of the Day. You can also do so via Instagram by mentioning us, @gadlingtravel, as well as tagging your photos with #gadling.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user whitefield_d]

D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms turn 100

cherry blossom festival tidal basinWashington, D.C. is a city of posers. Especially during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival when camera-toting tourists and locals descend like locusts to D.C.’s Tidal Basin to bask in the ethereal beauty of these Japanese trees in bloom. 100 years ago Monday, 3,020 cherry blossom trees arrived in Washington as a gift from Japan, largely thanks to the efforts of a journalist and traveler named Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, who was also the first female member of the National Geographic Society.

Aside from an incident in 1941 when four of the trees were chopped down in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it’s been a century-long love affair ever since. If you visit the Tidal Basin on a warm sunny day, as I did on Thursday, good luck trying to find a place to stand, let alone somewhere to park. Everywhere you walk, you’re intruding on someone’s photo opportunity.

According to the April 2012 issue of National Geographic, Americans took 80 billion digital photos in 2011. By my own calculation, approximately 43 billion of those were taken at the Cherry Blossom Festival. If you think the commuter trains in Mumbai are snug at rush hour, you haven’t tried to see the cherry blossoms in bloom on a sunny day.

Every year, I vow that next year I’ll go see the cherry blossoms on a rainy day, in the middle of the night or, even better, during a lightning storm to avoid the crowds, but somehow that never happens. Still, there’s a magnetic pull that keeps me coming back. When the trees are in bloom, you’ve got to go take a look. It’s kind of like a nude beach — you know it’s just going to be fat guys from Dusseldorf, but you need to see it for yourself.

The Japanese have a special bond to the trees, which they call sakura. The Canadian writer Will Ferguson once hitchhiked through the length of the country, south to north, following the trail of the sakuras blooming and his book, “Hokkaido Highway Blues,” is a hilarious account of his attempt to penetrate the soul of the country.

%Gallery-151319%For me, the best part of the festival is watching people pose for their cherry blossom glamour shots. You see women trying to look seductive, stoic Asian men who pose solemnly, as though they were being booked into a state penitentiary, guys in suits holding their tablets awkwardly to frame photos, and me, taking about 300 photos of my sons for no good reason. Imagine how much that would’ve cost in 1912.

Photos by Dave Seminara