Cherry Blossom Quest in Seoul Part 2
April 15, 2010 — Still in search of the perfect place to take in the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms, we set out for Changgyeonggung Palace to the Secret Garden held within the palace walls. The palace was built in 1484 by King Seongjong. In 1592 it was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion and was later restored in 1616. It was destroyed again in 1830 and restored in 1834. During the colonial period, the Japanese turned the palace into a public zoo and botanical garden. In 1983, the Korean government removed the zoo and restored the palace to its original state.
With all of this history, I felt sure there would be Cherry Blossoms everywhere.
Most days the Secret Garden is only accessible by guided tour, but on Thursdays, the garden is open for self-guided access. We parked, for a small fee, at the Science Museum and went in the side entrance to the palace. This is a very convenient way to visit.
For 1,000 won per adult (less than a dollar) and 500 won per child, we bought tickets and went in search of Sakura. The gardens were quiet and peaceful.The pond was serene.The Forsythia were beautiful in bloom along the large pond, but there were no Cherry Blossoms in the area. I was kind of surprised, but we kept looking. We headed towards the main gate entrance and found some pretty Sakura trees lined up along the side of a stone bridge. There were several photographers taking photos of the blooms, and we took some nice photographs of the trees. But again, this was not a spot where you could sit under the trees and ponder existence. This idea must be wholly Japanese. In fact, I remember in Japan that it was nearly unheard of to NOT participate in this kind of leisure activity in the spring. Even companies scheduled time for their business men to sit under the trees with other co-workers to admire the flowers. I remember it did seem strange to me at first, but now, I long for it. The peaceful serenity of watching the flowers fall from the trees like snow is beyond words.
We enjoyed the park, the weather was uncommonly lovely, but our search for Sakura wasn’t satisfied.