Hanami and Japan go hand in hand, but what if you could indulge in the art of flower viewing (yes, that's what the term translates to in English) a bit closer to home? Well, that's where the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival comes in. It's a celebration of everyone's favourite pink flora in Sydney's west.
Between August 17 and 26, the Auburn Botanic Gardens will transform its Japanese Gardens into a beautiful, blooming wonderland. You'll be able to ramp up your appreciation of the fleeting natural phenomena that is cherry blossom season by attending a massive viewing party in the lead up to spring. Tis the season, after all.
And taking in the spectacular scenery isn't the only thing you'll be doing. Over the two weekends of the festival (that is August 18-19 and 25-26), you'll be able to get your fill of Japanese entertainment by floating on over to stages filled with sumo wrestling, J-pop performers and Hello Kitty makeovers. On Friday, August 17, there'll also be a food- and sake-filled opening night party.
This year, the festival is ramping up its food offering, too. As well as eating your way through an array of Japanese food trucks doling out doses of bao, bento boxes, Japanese hot dogs, gyoza and okonomiyaki, you'll also be able to try a heap of cherry blossom-inspired eats. There'll be pink lotus buns from Tsuru, taiyaki by Otsu, Gelato Messina's Aunty Tomsu's Cherry Blossom Cheesecake and pink sakura burgers.
A pop-up izakaya will serve up sake and Japanese craft beer, too, and Sydney's Sakeshop will be selling limited cups of Hanamikura Aya sake — which is made from a yeast extracted from the cherry blossom flower.
If you've got a day off and want to skip the crowds, they'll also be opening up the gardens for four days during the week (August 20–24). Entry will cost five bucks, and is free for Cumberland residents.
Image: Kristina Paukshtite.