2017 Wuxi International Cherry Blossom Week

Yuantouzhu, or Turtle Head Isle in East China's Wuxi city was full of the joy of spring as thousands of visitors gathered on the picturesque island for this year's Wuxi International Cherry Blossom Week, an event designed to promote peace, friendship and cooperation between China and Japan.

 

Cherry plantation of friendship blooms in 30th year

Citizens of Japan and China once again joined hands to plant cherry trees in the Turtle Head Isle of Wuxi, Jiangsu province, for the 30th consecutive year on March 28, a symbol of friendship between the two nations.

Groups of private citizens and NGO workers from Japan have been travelling to Wuxi to plant the trees as a gesture of peace and solidarity since 1988.

History of Sino-Japanese cherry plantation

The cherry blossom plantation area at Turtle Head Isle, Wuxi, covering more than 650,000 square meters is a symbol of the friendship between people in China and Japan.

In 1988, some Japanese people and non-governmental organizations began to plant cherry trees at Turtle Head Isle. Till now, the Japanese friends have donated more than 15,000 saplings to the scenic spot.

 

Cherry blossom princess - Someya Tomomi

The opening ceremony of 2017 Wuxi International Cherry Blossom Week turned Wuxi's Turtle Head Isle into a festive flower-filled paradise.

The event gained extra attention on account of the presence of a young Japanese woman; Someya Tomomi, a 22-year old Japanese woman who stands as the current cherry blossom princess of the Japan Cherry Blossom Association.

Cherry Plantation Association chairman - Shibata Yutaka

The friendship between China and Japan was strengthened again on March 28, as 40 new cherry trees were planted on Wuxi's Turtle Head Isle for the 30th consecutive year.

Groups from Japan have been travelling to Wuxi to plant the trees as a gesture of peace and solidarity since 1988.

Honorary citizen of Wuxi - Hirota Ryuichiro

Hirota Ryuichiro, a Japanese man conferred with the title of honorary citizen of Wuxi, visited the city for the eighth time this year to attend the Wuxi's annual International Cherry Blossom Week.

Traveling between China and Japan for eight consecutive years, Hirota is mainly engaged in the exchange of climate research and agricultural cultivation.

 

An emblem of Japanese culture

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are Japan's national flower. Delicate and pink, they are deeply symbolic in Japanese culture - a symbol of spring, a time of renewal, and of the fleeting nature of life.

There are dozens of different cherry tree varieties in Japan. The life of their flowers is very short. Most of them bloom for just a couple of days in spring. Two weeks later their beauty peaks, and they start to fall.

Evolving meaning

Cherry blossoms have been a symbol of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, as well as productive and reproductive powers throughout the history of Japan.

From 710 to 794, cherry blossoms were connected to Japanese folk religions as a symbol of reproduction and new life.

At that time, the Japanese began to transplant cherry trees from mountains to the areas where they lived. The trees were seen as sacred, as they were considered to carry the soul of the mountain gods down to humans.

Hanami

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, also known as Hanami (flower viewing), is the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers, mostly referring to pale pink cherry blossoms, or sakura.

Cherry blossoms famously bloom for a very brief period, making it vitally important for Japanese people to seize the opportunity when the time comes and take some respite among the flowers, from March 15 to April 15.

Dining with cherry blossoms

It is well known that cherry blossom are beautiful to look at, however it is much less known that they can be eaten as well.

The pickling process begins with cleaning up the blossom, followed by sprinkling them salt and leaving them over night. Once dry, pour over some Japanese apricot vinegar and let soak for about three days. Spread petals out and let them air for another three days, finally, the pickled cherry blossoms can be stored in a bottle or jar. They can be stored at about 5C for up to two months.

 

Aerial shot of Yuantouzhu

Dubbed one of the world's three greatest places to enjoy cherry blossoms, Turtle Head Isle is China's largest single area of cherry blossoms, with more than 30,000 of the plants in 67 different varieties.

The 2017 Wuxi Taihu International Cherry Blossom Week is coming this year, which will enable visitors to view the panoramic sightseeing attractions, distinctive night-themed activities and culture demonstration events.

Highlights of the Cherry Blossom Week

The annual Wuxi International Cherry Blossom Week commenced on March 28.

The stars of the show each year are Turtle Head Isle's 30,000 cherry trees, which burst into bloom in late-March. Many of the beautiful trees, which are prized in both Chinese and Japanese culture, were donated on the island by groups of Japanese visitors, whom have been coming to Wuxi to plant the trees as a gesture of friendship since the 1980s.

 

Animation festival

Tens of thousands of people made a beeline for Turtle Head Isle (Turtle Head Isle) scenic area to attend the launch of a new cartoon and animation festival last weekend.

The festival is becoming the most popular part of the annual Wuxi Taihu International Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place at Turtle Head Isle each year and this year runs from Mar 16 to Apr 20.

Night run

A fluorescence 10 km night run in Wuxi's Turtle Head Isle on March 17 turned the scenic spot into an illuminated wonderland as participants were beguiled by the beauty of colorful cherry blossoms under the moonlight.

This year's Wuxi Taihu International Cherry Blossom Festival offers a refreshing experience through the night run activity. Seeing the charming cherry blossoms under the moonlight at night while enjoying beautiful music in the air surely offered runners with a great sensory feast.

Cherry blossom baby

The cherry blossom baby selection competition concluded in Wuxi's Turtle Head Isle on March 26 where the winning boy and girl were honored with the title of "little cherry blossom prince" and "little cherry blossom princess".

A total of 500 participants went through three rounds of competition since March 20.

Poetry recitation

The Turtle Head Isle abutting the beautiful Taihu Lake hosted a poetry recitation on March 12 putting forward a cultural extravaganza in the cherry blossom paradise.

Six artists from Wuxi Recitation Association as well as various invited guests recited famous poetries depicting the picturesque Taihu Lake with deep affection, followed by several invited singers impressing the audience with their singings.

 

Renjie Garden

Seated beside the cherry blossom pavilion on Turtle Head Isle, Renjie garden covers an area of 4 hectares. Statues of more than 30 renowned citizens of Wuxi city as well as cultural historical material are on display in the garden's four exhibition halls where natural beauty and cultural charm are combined together in harmony.

Cherry Blossom Pavilion

Located in the center of the cherry forest on Turtle Head Isle, the Cherry Blossom Pavilion serves as the greatest sightseeing spot overlooking the resplendent cherry blossom sea.

With three floors, it is particularly advised that visitors enjoy the scenery from the top floor of the pavilion as it provides the most panoramic views.

Changchun Blossom Ripple

Changchun Bridge is a landmark site in Turtle Head Isle, Wuxi, as it is considered by many as the best place to enjoy cherry blossoms. Straddling the lake between the Hanwan and Jiangxue Pavilions, the arched bridge rises up above its wide aperture.

Rare cherry blossoms from Japan have bloomed upon the lake's embankment for nearly 100 years. Every March and April, the cherry blossoms spring to life in red, pink and white like a flock of pigmented clouds.

Yingyuan Bridge

There is a unique Japanese style bridge in the cherry valley on Turtle Head Isle called Yingyuan Bridge. The curved red bridge connects cherry valley and the Sino-Japanese cherry plantation of friendship.

It is said that crossing the bridge when the wind picks up is like being caught in the middle of a delicate storm of cherry rain, as the pale pink petals are blown from their branches. Another belief is that couples in love will receive eternity of blessings if they walk over the bridge together.

 

Transportation

There are two shuttle buses every day from the intersection of Huanhu Road and Zhongnan West Road to the Chongshan Gate of the Turtle Head Isle Scenic Spot (Yuantouzhu) and the Guanshe Mountain Village on Huanhu Road to the Dushan Gate, respectively.

A shuttle bus is available every Saturday and Sunday from March 26 between Wuxi Coach Station and Turtle Head Isle Scenic Spot.

Sightseeing routes

Route 1- 2 hours on foot

Route 2- 10 minutes by bus and 40 minutes on foot

Route 3- 1 hour on foot

Route 4- 20 minutes by bike

Route 5- By boat

Editor: Zhang Xiaoyu
All images subject to copyright
Published: April. 12, 2017

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