Sunpu Grand Imperial Palace Historical Picture Scroll

The Shizuoka Festival began in 1957, following the legend that Ieyasu Tokugawa, who became a great lord, took daimyo (feudal lords) and hatamoto (feudal warlords) along to view cherry blossoms.

According to records, Ieyasu Tokugawa, who moved his castle to Sunpu in 1607, took a group of daimyo (feudal lords), hatamoto (feudal retainers), and others to Sengen Shrine to view cherry blossoms, as recorded in “Tousho Daigongen KARINA Engi”. According to the “Toshodai Gongen Kari-enki”, “The accompanying people were dressed in elaborate and elegant costumes, and the sight of them competing with each other was a rare and spectacular sight…” This describes the gorgeous cherry blossom viewing scene of the time. The Sunpu Seijo Roku (Sunpu Record of Political Matters) also records that Hanami was held under the flowers in full bloom and a Noh play was dedicated to the gods.

under the cherry blossoms in full bloom of Ryoura ensyoku

This is the origin of the Ogosyo hanami procession held at the Shizuoka Festival. The scene of the procession, which is said to be made up of a row of “Ryora” (a kind of garment with a glossy color) sleeves, must have been like a picture scroll of the times, reminiscent of the prosperity of the Grand Imperial Palace period.

Yoshino Cherry Blossom Viewing

What is recalled as hanami in the Warring States period is the hanami held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Yoshino (1594). It is historically famous as the Yoshino Hanami. It was a few years after Toyotomi Hideyoshi achieved unification of the country, at the very height of his power. It is said that a total of 5,000 tea masters and renga poets, including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, Date Masamune, and other military commanders, accompanied this cherry blossom viewing. During their stay, they held “poetry,” “tea,” and “Noh” parties, and it seems that their days were filled with banquets.

Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) to make the world of Tokugawa known to the world

It is not clear what Tokugawa Ieyasu had in mind at this time, but it can be inferred that the cherry blossom viewing in Sunpu was a reminder to the whole country of the change from Toyotomi to Tokugawa rule, analogous to the cherry blossom viewing in Yoshino.