Enjoying Hanami blossoms and crowds at Gardens by the Bay’s Sakura 2023.
Gardens by the Bay has been hosting Sakura exhibitions every March as far back as I can remember—I’ve visited at least four times over the years. That makes what happened last week as silly as it gets.
Once again, I forgot that it takes time for cherry blossom trees to bloom. After Sakura 2023 started on Mar 11, I happily headed down to the Flower Dome two days later, camera and tripod and all, only to encounter more twigs than blossoms.
In other words, exactly what happened last year—I visited way too early. I should have waited till a week later.
And so … down to the Flower Dome I again went on Sunday and this time, there were thankfully blooms on the trees. Blooms and crowds! Lots and lots of people! So many that GBTB restricted the use of camera tripods.
It was a very Hanami experience indeed. You visit on a wrong day and you’d be lucky to even see buds. Visit on the right days, however, and you’d see more people than blossoms.
But I suppose that is what cherry blossom viewing is all about … (Shoganai na!)
Scenic Japanese Train Travel at Sakura 2023
All right, enough grouching. 😛 Back to introducing Sakura 2023.
This year’s theme is that of scenic train travel in the Land of the Rising Sun, while amidst lovely Sakura blossoms. To befit the theme, there are mock train carriages for visitors to pose in, lots of torii gates, a showcase on Ekiben i.e. train travel bento boxes, and even miniature train displays.
There’s also, unusually, a Pokémon forest, with the most famous personalities from the hit anime making enthusiastic appearances.
It’s a bit of a quirky mishmash, TBH. On the other hand, with dainty cherry blossoms as background, most displays are photogenic, if a little offbeat.
For visitors unable to visit Japan anytime soon, Sakura 2023 should be an apt substitute.
I suspect for some visitors, this is an even bigger draw than the cherry blossoms.
I’m not a big fan of the franchise; haven’t launched my Pokémon Go in years. But seeing Snorlax just … chill there amidst all the greenery while visitors enthusiastically snapped pictures was deeply ticklish.
Sakura 2023 ends on Apr 9. The Flower Dome is open from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Admission charges apply.
Check out the official page for weekend special programmes.