Cities, towns and villages all over Japan hold cherry blossom festivals in the spring to welcome the beautiful pink blossoms and bring people together. These festivals typically include food stalls, and often have some kind of entertainment from local musicians or cultural groups too. The cherry blossom festival in the village of Okawa, Tosa District has all these things, but it isn’t organized by the local municipality—every year it’s handcrafted by a local couple who wanted to bring a fun festival to their village for everyone to enjoy!
Chiyoko Kawakami, who was born in Okawa, moved back to the village in 2004 with her husband, Fumito, to work as farmers and grow organic produce together. Hoping to bring beauty and vitality to the village, they spent the next 10 years clearing the hill behind their home to plant and grow 100 cherry trees. Today, the hill comes alive in the spring with a plethora of flowers. Soft pink cherry blossoms, shibazakura (moss phlox), yellow canola flowers, and colorful tulips a little later in the spring
Every Sunday during the festival period, local food producers and entrepreneurs come to set up their stalls at the cherry blossom festival, so visitors can sample delicious food (live music will be available on those days too)! While it may vary from year to year, in recent years the offerings have included Japanese and western-style sweets, such as mochi (rice cakes), crepes, and muffins, plus popular savory dishes like ramen and dengaku—hearty slabs of tofu and konnyaku (devil’s tongue) covered in miso and grilled
This year’s festival runs from April 2 to 16
The festival venue is just over 1.5 hours from Kochi City by car
Thank you to Chiyoko and Fumito for letting us use their beautiful photos!
You can follow the couple on their Facebook page as they tend to the flowers and prepare for the festival. They introduce local residents who support their efforts, and even their adorable cat too: https://www.facebook.com/okawa.sakura.festival/