Cherry blossom season is a quintessential Japanese experience.
Cherry blossom season is a quintessential Japanese experience.
Image: Carl Court/Getty Images

When the Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off in September, more eyes will be on its host nation, Japan, than ever before. Land Rover is not only a worldwide partner to the rugby tournament to end all others, but a proud partner of the Springboks too. So, before our boys in green and gold head off to the tiny Pacific Island nation, we thought we’d give you a crash course in where to travel when you follow suit. Because we’re Wanted, we’ve curated the coolest, smartest and most unique itinerary for you — taking our inspiration from the newly updated Range Rover Evoque 2019 (how could we not?)

Kitted out with new technologies and engineered for comfort, this beauty of a vehicle is an all-terrain, compact SUV that’s stylishly suitable to zip around the city with ease.

This week, we highlight the spirit of “living for the city” by exploring Yoshino – one of the prefectures in Japan. Once you’ve read this, we know you’re going to want to get into your Evoque and immediately explore this exotic, buzzing destination yourself.

Yoshino is a small town in the Nara Prefecture. It’s home to Mount Yoshino, which is arguably one of Japan’s best-kept secrets to view and celebrate the cherry-blossom season.

1. CELEBRATE LIFE | CHERRY BLOSSOMS AT MT YOSHINO

Sakura, a flowering cherry tree, is derived from the word saku, meaning to smile or bloom. Cherry blossom season is a quintessential Japanese experience. It is symbolic of Japanese spirit, beauty, life, and death — a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

The Tale of Genji.
The Tale of Genji.
Image: Supplied

The time is also a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and how precious it is. “It is true, as they say, that the blossoms of spring are all the more precious because they bloom so briefly,” wrote Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th-century text, The Tale of Genji.

Sakurabito, an old word meaning “lovers of cherry blossom”, gather in parks and picnic or stroll around during this magical season, which takes place in the northern hemisphere’s springtime (starting around the middle of March until the end of April).

Mount Yoshino is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site and is a joy all year round. It’s known not only for its architectural and historical value, but also its approximately 30,000 cherry blossoms in spring, leaves turning shades of red and gold come autumn, hydrangeas in summer, and snow-capped mountains in winter.

2. HEALTHY CITIES | YOSHINO CEDAR HOUSE

“By bringing together modern technology, community-centric design, and culturally significant craftsmanship, we looked to create a deeper relationship between travellers and the communities they visit,” wrote Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia and Japanese architect Go Hasegawa, who opened Yoshino Cedar House in 2017. The objective was to help inject tourism into this slowly-disappearing rural community — diminished thanks to an ageing population, low birth rate, and migration of young people. Since the house opened, Yoshino has hosted hundreds of guests from 32 countries and created 70 jobs, its website boasts.

Yoshino Cedar House
Yoshino Cedar House
Image: Courtesy of Airbnb

Airbnb launched the Office of Healthy Tourism last year to drive authentic and sustainable tourism in countries and cities around the globe — essentially to democratise the benefits of travel tourism. Cedar House is a hybrid community-stay homeshare designed for guests and local residents. Forty percent of the earnings are used for community projects. Describing the architecture and design, Hasegawa says selected cedar wood from surrounding forests, identified by forest guardians and felled by local woodsmen, was the main material used for the building’s interior and exterior. The town’s traditional master craftsman built the two-storey home.

Visit the Land Rover website for more information. Join the #liveforthecity conversation on Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Wanted’s journey through Japan: A hyperlocal guide to the best bits its cities have to offer brought to you by Land Rover, the worldwide partner to the Rugby World Cup:

 This article was paid for by Land Rover, proud vehicle partner to the Springboks.

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