Berlin x Cherry Blossom 2020

when Japan is off limits

Friday, April 17, 2020


Cherry Blossom in Japan is one of the most beautiful events, happening every year somewhere between mid March and mid April, depending on location and weather. In Japan, there are tons of Cherry Blossom Festivals (花見) happening around that time in the spirit of 物の哀れ, which literally translates to roughly “the pity (哀) of (の) things (物)” but more freely roughly translates to “appreciation of the fleeting nature of beauty” or “nothing lasts forever”. This concept is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture as, e.g., reflected in idioms such as 一期一会, which literally translates to “one time, one meeting” but more freely refers to that every meeting and every time happens only once and is fleeting and unique.

I was meant to go to Japan right around the time of Cherry Blossom but Corona happened. First it was unclear whether one should go to Japan because of the initially higher number of cases in Japan, then two weeks later it was unclear whether one could go to Japan because Japan started to lock down its borders for flights from certain countries.

Being stuck in Berlin, I needed to find some alternative way to pay my tribute to 物の哀れ and did some research and it turns out that Berlin actually has several Cherry Blossom spots (read here for: Cherry Blossoms in Berlin, in Germany, and here). There are even Cherry Blossom Festivals in Berlin; not this year though.

Kirschblütenweg

One of the main spots is the “Kirschblütenweg” (Cherry Blossom Path), which is a section of the Berlin Wall Trail near Bornholmer Straße. The cherry blossom trees there were donated by Japanese citizens to celebrate the reunification; there is a memorial stone right at the beginning of the path. I went there various times over the last few weeks to see the different stages of blooming and the photos below are not full-bloom yet.

Beginning of the Kirschblütenweg.

The path is not that long. I would guess somewhere around 1km. I went there in the early morning to catch the soft light right after sunrise and due to Corona there were very few people around.

Beautiful morning light hitting the petals close to full bloom...
... while others were still pretty much closed...
... still waiting for some sunlight.

What surprised me a little was how inhomogeneous the bloom was. While some trees probably with a little more sun exposure were rather close to full bloom, in other sections it was still a little early.

Trees covering most of the path creating arcs and a huge flower cover.

Cherry Blossom throughout Berlin

There are also many other Cherry Blossom tree locations throughout Berlin, sometimes with trees in very different stages of bloom. In fact there are apparently more than 10,000 trees throughout Berlin. There are also a lot of other trees in beautiful bloom.

At the Free University of Berlin.
Petals already fallen.
Cherry Blossom at Wannsee.
Single trees can be often found in front yards.
Skaters at the Free University Berlin court yard. An array of blooming trees in the background.