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LOOK: Cherry blossoms bloom in Atok, Benguet

By Tanya Lara Published Apr 12, 2021 3:41 pm

Spring is here! Or at least it’s in Atok, Benguet, one of the coldest places in the Philippines where temperature can go below zero when the northeast monsoon or amihan, cold air from Siberia, hits the country in January and February.

But now the temperature in Atok is perfect for cherry blossoms, which symbolize renewal and spring.

In Atok this morning, photographers snapped images of cherry blossoms and sunflowers at the Sakura Park to document the blossoming.

According to Philippine Star photographer Andy Zapata, the cherry blossoms were planted in Sakura Park in 2015. “Around 30 cherry blossoms were donated by the Kochi Prefecture in Japan to Atok in celebration of its 40 years of sisterhood ties with Benguet province.”

The park and other tourism sites remain closed to tourists in compliance with IATF protocols.

Spring flowers at sunrise in Atok, Benguet.  Photos by Andy Zapata/Philippine Star
And the Milky Way at night. 

Here are five fun facts about cherry blossoms, the tree that symbolizes renewal and Japan’s friendship to the world.

1. There are 400 cherry blossom trees in Amsterdam that are individually named.

In 2000, the Japan Women’s Club donated 400 trees to Amsterdamse Bos, a landscape park in the municipalities of Amstelveen and Amsterdam, to commemorate the friendship between the Netherlands and Japan.

2. If you pick a cherry blossom in Washington, DC you can get arrested.

Or fined at the very least. All the cherry blossom trees in DC (there are about 4,000) are considered federal property. The National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 to April 11 in DC) has just concluded with virtual and physical events in the US capital. Pre-COVID over a million people usually attended this annual festival.

Cherry blossoms at Sakura Park in Atok, Benguet. The 30 trees were donated by Kochi Prefecture in 2015

3. Cherry blossom petals are edible.

They may not last long, but they don’t just look pretty, they taste good too! That’s where the sakura flavor comes from in teas, KitKat bars, ice cream and other food infused with sakura. Apart from this, the flowers are used in perfumes, lotions, body gels and other personal care products.

4. Believe it or not, the ‘Cherry Blossom Capital of the World’ is Macon, Georgia.

The US city of Macon in Georgia holds this title, according to US Congressional records. The city has 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees, just one of hundreds of varities of the cherry tree.

Photographers were allowed to document the blossoming of sakura at the still-closed park in Atok. 
There are sunflowers in the park too. 

5. Hanami picnics: Day or night? 

We’ve all seen the pictures or maybe experienced it ourselves—the Japanese traditon of having a picnic under a spectacular cherry blossom tree during spring. Arguably, it may be even more beautiful at night, when they hang lanterns on the branches of Japan’s national tree.

Another look at the beautiful night sky over Atok. 

Banner photo by Andy Zapata