One of the best things about Hawaii – and there are more than a few – is that, due to its location almost exactly at the mid-point between North America and Asia, we have been cross-pollinated by cultural influences from both sides of the Pacific. Living on the Big Island, you will witness celebrations both of American traditions like Christmas, and Japanese ones such as the well-known cherry blossom festival.
Japan has celebrated the blooming of cherry trees since antiquity, regaling the world with dazzling photos of pink-clad parks and walkways. Here on Hawaii’s Big Island, we have also caught cherry blossom fever, with a unique twist – while most of Japan sees the flowers bloom in early April, due to our tropical location, our cherry blossom festival comes as early as February.
The town of Waimea has held cherry blossom celebrations for the past 21 years, drawing thousands of visitors from all over the world. The festival – called “hanami” in Japanese, literally meaning “to view flowers” – is not merely a borrowed tradition. The people of Hawaii have imbued the festival with a meaning unique to the islands, by making it a practice of “aloha ‘aina” – the appreciation of life and nature that is central to traditional Hawaiian culture.
Perhaps this is why the blossoms of Waimea’s cherry trees mysteriously changed color from their original pale pink to a dark, rich rose…
If you reserve your all inclusive Hawaii vacation in early February, you too can celebrate the blooming of these magnificent trees!