Cherry blossom. ABC
This is the Malaga village that becomes the 'Japan of Andalucía' with its cherry blossom in spring
Inland tourism

This is the Malaga village that becomes the 'Japan of Andalucía' with its cherry blossom in spring

It is not just about admiring the pink petals that adorn the trees, but also about a cultural immersion with Japanese workshops, parades, craft stalls and gastronomy



Wednesday, 13 March 2024, 10:59


In Malaga province there is a small municipality that during spring pays special homage to Japan and its cherry blossom. The village of Alfarnate, with barely a thousand inhabitants, is transformed every year into a slice of Japan thanks to the dazzling Sakura festival.

Just as the ties between the Spanish town of Coria del Río and the Japanese country have stood the test of time, with more than 700 people with the surname 'Japan' today, the Malaga village of Alfarnate also has its own connection with the land of the rising sun, albeit in a more ephemeral and seasonal way. The Sakura festival, which celebrates the cherry blossom, has catapulted this municipality to unexpected fame as the 'Japan of Andalucia'.

During spring, Alfarnate takes on a special colour with the blooming of the cherry blossom, a phenomenon which thrives in the cool nights and warm days of the area. To commemorate this spectacle of nature, locals have created the Sakura Festival, also known as Sakura Matsuri, in homage to Japanese culture and its iconic flower.

The event, which was first held in 2022, has become deeply rooted in the community of Alfarnate. It is not only about admiring the pink petals that adorn the trees, but also about a cultural immersion. Workshops, parades, craft stalls and gastronomy bring life to the streets of this village that worships Japanese traditions so well.

File image.
File image.

The origin of the festival goes back to some Japanese tourists who came across this natural spectacle during a trip to Malaga province. Amazed by the similarity with their homeland, they began to frequent Alfarnate, attracting more curious visitors.

Dedicated to Japanese culture

Preparations for the festival begin long before the first blossoms appear on the trees, and it is the people of Alfarnate themselves who make thousands of paper flowers that adorn the streets of the municipality. However, Alfarnate's relationship with Japan goes beyond the cherry blossom. The municipality houses an Open Interpretation Centre dedicated to the eight Japanese regions, a meeting point of the culture and traditions of the country. In addition, there is also a sakura garden, with 47 cherry trees in memory of Japan's 47 prefectures, which serves as a permanent tribute to this cultural connection.

During the festival, the streets of Alfarnate become a tribute to Japanese culture. A tiled walkway details the many locations of Japan, while Sakuri, a girl dressed in traditional Japanese attire, leads parades and ceremonies celebrating the arrival of spring.

The festival also includes a programme with a wide variety of activities that pay homage to the rich Japanese culture, offering a different experience to the inhabitants and visitors of Alfarnate. Martial arts exhibitions such as Aikido and Kyodo, Japanese calligraphy and bookbinding workshops, cultural conferences, workshops, parades... each activity is impregnated with the essence of Japan.

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