Hong Kongers are flocking to see cherry blossom trees along Chek Lap Kok South Road, near Tung Chung MTR station.
Cherry blossom trees, also called ‘sakura’ trees, are commonly found in Japan and are a popular tourist attraction in the country. This year, sakuras are expected to begin their short-lived bloom on 22 March.
On 13 February, HK Express, one of HK’s low-cost flights, canceled multiple flights from Hong Kong to Japan between the 3 and 30 March this year. The cancelation is in accordance with a limitation on flights from Hong Kong, enforced by Japan’s government.
Nature-loving Hong Kongers are opting for the homegrown alternative, which is about a 20-minute walk from the Tung Chung MTR station.
Louis and his partner, Winnie, traveled from Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O, respectively, to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the garden. Louis, currently searching for employment in Hong Kong, said that he felt very happy after seeing the cherry blossom flowers.
Others were less impressed. Donald, who was celebrating Valentine’s Day at the garden with his girlfriend, regrets that he was too late to witness the full bloom. He says he would probably not revisit the garden next year.
“We are slightly disappointed,” he said. “I mean, compared to Japan, or somewhere else…”
Many trees were bare and wilting and lone flowers were abundant. This did not stop visitors from posing with the flowers and taking photographs of the trees in bloom, sometimes with their pets or plushies.
The Airport Authority of Hong Kong planted the trees in 2021, and there are now over 80 trees in total according to a plaque installed at the beginning of the trail. The garden is close to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car station, and visitors to the garden can often see the cable cars passing overhead.
Sakura trees are an important motif in Japanese culture. The trees only flower for about a week or two, and are often said to symbolize the fleeting nature of life. During World War II, the flowers were said to signify kamikaze pilots and were also part of their uniform design.
Featured Image: Anagha Subhash Nair