SAKURA EFFECT. Riga - the new cherry blossom viewer's paradise?

Earlier every year the Japanese SAKURA cherry trees have just started to bloom at Uzvaras park in Riga, and it will sure bring positive crowds of people there! It also reminds about one of theories CAPITAL R has stated long time ago called SAKURA EFFECT. Its definition - wherever Japanese cherries are planted, the area, much sooner than later, faces urban, social and, especially, touristic development.
Is the "Sakura Effect" factor taking place in Rīga, too?

sakuras uzvaras parkā, capital r, 2019, 2018
Cherry blossom viewers at Uzvaras Park, Rīga.

First things first. Before going down to Rīga business, we must support this hypothesis of "Sakura effect". CAPITAL R has chosen several global destinations to prove such factor indeed exists:

Altes Land, Germany. "The cherry blossom is a major tourist attraction in Altes Land orchard region. The largest "Hanami" or the blossom viewing event in the country takes place in Hamburg. Along with Japanese-style fireworks, organized by the German-Japanese society, it draws tens of thousands spectators every spring. Starting in 2015, Hamburg is allowed to bestow the title of "Cherry Blossom Queen" by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association, one of only three cities worldwide to receive this privilege. The first Cherry Blossom Queen of Hamburg was crowned by the Cherry Blossom Queen of Japan on May 23."

Cowra, Australia. "An annual cherry blossom festival is a major event in Cowra's tourism calendar and is held in the gardens during September."

Paris, France. "Parc de Sceaux, located in a suburb of Paris, has two orchards of cherry trees, one for white and one for pink cherry blossoms. The later, with about 150 trees, attract many visitors when Sakuras bloom in early April."

Vancouver, Canada. "The city is famous for its thousands of cherry trees (estimated 50,000) lining many streets and in many parks. Vancouver holds the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival every year with Sakuras beginning to bloom in February yearly and peak in April."

Washington D.C., USA. "Sakuras continue to be a popular tourist attraction (and the subject of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival) when they reach full bloom in early spring. Just outside of Washington, D.C., the suburb of Kenwood in Bethesda, Maryland has roughly 1,200 trees that are popular with locals and tourists." 1


Cherry blooming and its related social activities gather unusual amount of visitors to the Uzvaras (Victory) park area too. The park, named after the Victory of Latvian National forces over the last intruders of Riga in 1919 (therefore NOT related to any WWII events or Soviet Reign), received its first 114 Sakura trees as a gift from the Japanese Embassy in 2012.

Since then, every year from early-April until mid-May the North side of the park is expected to be filled with both local and foreigner "hanami" or Sakura blossom viewers. Most locals admit the park is being shed with relaxed atmosphere and many smiling people. Something many neighbourhoods in Riga miss.
"Sakuras change the connotation of the Victory park. Many still have a negative, doubtful view on the park's Soviet history or split society it gathers in Riga. Because of the trees, a focus of attention shifts toward the neutral. Suddenly gathering together becomes a positive thing for all ethnicities - who doesn't like pink trees?" observes Ieva Niedre, a local activist and resident.
Sadly, although 7 years have past, the park still hasn't fully scored from the Sakura effect. It lacks decent pavement system, bike paths, sitting and leisure area, and still is promoted as "tourism irrelevant". In 2018, there were only two public portaloo toilets that were anonymously set on fire and burned (read - melted) in early June. How's that for burning sensation, again.

Although the must-see Sakura park might seem a delightful experience for singles, couples, family or friends, yet it comes along with an added amount of misery if you are into urbanism or in your right mind. So CAPITAL R wanted to sort out at least one thing to make Riga get closer to its "Sakura paradise" title. We paid some attention to the park in Google maps - now there is an official Google spot in Uzvaras park for those looking for the blooming sakuras, and you can get that map right here below!


When: visit the park for cherry blossoms usually blooming around Mid-April until Mid-May (annually)
How: you can reach the park any time by trams No.1, No.2 and No.4, or simply by walking or cycling across the Akmens (Stone) bridge and proceeding further for 5 mins.
What else:  Don't forget to visit the Latvian National Library, Railway Museum, Āgenskalns neighbourhood, and Āgenskalns market!
NB: Bring your camera and your picnic set! Respect the park areas in Rīga - keep tidy after yourself.

1 Cherry blossom.