The Silent Carols Of Seoul’s Cherry Blossom Festival

The bundles of cherry blossoms seem to cast a subtle pink glow on the entire vicinity.

cherry blossom festival
Cherry blossom festival. Photo: Christy Ly

Today’s forecast is partly cloudy, occasional light pink drizzle, and a blushed haze. If you take a look at the weather map, you can just see this concentrated pink tide settling over the capital. No need to carry an umbrella, but be watchful for drifting petals from above. Temperatures will remain relatively cool with 10°C (50°F) in the morning and approaching 18°C (64°F) at around noon.

Although a mediocre imitation of a weather report may not be the best way to illustrate the romance of such a scene as you see above, it’s the best way I know how whilst being original. You’ll find a good many articles/blog posts on the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. For obvious reasons, I think; just look at those trees. *lays hand on heart*

O cherry blossom tree,

Your boughs are laden with soft petals

What ruffles of sweet splendor

That send my heart aflutter.

Ayy, you managed to endure my quatrain. If there’s ever a time for spontaneous verse, it’s during hanami (“flower viewing”), a centuries-old Japanese tradition that dates back to the Heian period. In Korean, it’s known as kkochnoli (lit. “playing with flowers”). Emperor Saga began the national custom when he held flower-viewing parties — synonymous to sakura trees — at the Imperial Court, where there was much feasting and sake underneath the floral canopies. Poems upon poems were written — an abundance of lyrical praises in reverence to the flower.

It’s an odd feeling to recall memories of silence. Although not completely absent of noise, that day walking amidst the cherry blossoms comes close. If I were to ever find myself in a snow globe big enough to fit me, I imagine it’d be a similar experience. To envision a hushed atmosphere presiding over hundreds of thousands of petals and people is reminiscent to remembering the details of a dream. Crowds and quiet don’t tend to be congruous, but this special space and time gave way to such a conjunction to celebrate the coming of spring. Remain quiet, we did. In silence, we walked; I guess no one wanted to break the spell.

The bundles of cherry blossoms seem to cast a subtle pink glow on the entire vicinity. Nature’s careful curation for spring has amassed into one big, bloomin’ festival to be endlessly aahed and ooed at. Another enchanting element that lends to the dreamy ambience is people tying their wishes to a tree. The sign reads: “Please hang your wish.” As we saunter along the petal-strewn road, a gentle wind sends the flowers skipping through the air as if they were stray musical notes, caroling along winter’s last breeze.

Late March to early May is prime time for cherry blossom viewing. Aside from Seoul, there are several locations in and around the peninsula where you can see them: Gwangju, Daejeon, Jeonju, Busan, Jeju Island, and more. I went to the festival held at Children’s Grand Park, which you can reach via subway line 7, exit 1. It might be helpful to check out Korea’s Tourism Organization (KTO), which keeps a yearly updated forecast of peak blooming season.

Christy Ly

Content Editor

Christy is a lover of the arts. She reads literature from around the world and holds a special passion for children's storytelling.

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