The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival is one of South Korea’s most popular spring festivals and also one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Korea.
This festival in Jinhae-gu, a district of the city of Changwon in the south of Korea, sees around 2 million visitors a year. With a multitude cherry trees across the area, Jinhae turns into an absolute dream.
This post will give an overview of the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival and its two main attractions: the Yeojwacheon Stream and Gyeonghwa Station.
What is the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival?
The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival takes in Jinhae, Changwon in Gyeongsangnam-do Province on the southern coast of South Korea. The festival started in 1963, and has seen over 2,000,000 visitors in a year.
This festival is also known as the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (진해군항제), or Naval Base Festival. It celebrates Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s naval victory over Japan during the Joseon Dynasty.
Jinhae was developed as a naval base by the Japanese Navy during Japan’s colonization of Korea. Jinhae is also home to a Korean Navy base.
So many festival events have a military focus, like military parades and the World Military Music Festival. But there are also performances, art and light installations along the stream, and festival stalls selling food and other wares.
But many of the visitors come just to see the 360,000 cherry trees around the area.
Look at how soft and dreamy these cherry blossoms are
The residents of Jinhae actually were not so keen on cherry blossoms after Korea’s liberation from Japan, being associated with imperial Japan’s beautification efforts in the city.
But then in 1962, two botanists found that the king cherry trees around came from Jeju Island, not Japan. (Korea has several species of cherry trees native to the country.) So interest in the cherry trees was reignited.
When to Visit for the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
The festival usually takes place over approximately 10 days (two weekends and the weekdays in between them) in late March/early April. This is generally sometime between March 25th and April 10th.
The 2023 Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival takes places from Saturday, March 25th to Sunday, April 3rd, with the opening ceremony taking place on Friday, March 24th.
A word of warning: Jinhae can be absolutely swarming with visitors during the cherry blossom festival. It’s basically the destination for cherry blossoms in Korea, especially outside of Seoul’s lovely spots for cherry blossoms. So go early in the day if you want to avoid the crowds.
Crowd of people at Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival
Despite all the people, Jinhae is really lovely and well worth a trip to see the cherry blossoms at least once.
How to Get to Jinhae
Jinhae is around 233 miles/375 kilometers from Seoul, or about a 5-hour drive.
You can pretty easily travel from Seoul to Jinhae on public transportation. You can take an intercity bus to Changwon (takes 4.5 hours), or take the KTX to Changwon Jungang Station (about 4 hours). From there, you can take a local bus or taxi to the festival.
Jinhae is about 30/50 kilometers from Busan, or about a 45-minute drive.
For public transportation from Busan to Jinhae, the bus is your best option. You can take the bus into Changwon and then a local bus or taxi to Jinhae. This journey takes about 1.5-2 hours.
Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Jinhae
There are cherry trees all around Jinhae, but there are two areas that are particularly picturesque. These iconic spots are some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Jinhae. They are also focal points of the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival.
Yeojwacheon Stream (여좌천) is a small stream lined on both sides by wooden decks and delicate cherry trees. There are multiple bridges going across the stream, offering great views of it.
This area became famous after it was featured as a meeting spot for the main characters of the 2002 K-drama Romance (로망스). The bridge where they met is now called the Romance Bridge, and you can visit it if you so desire.
Yeojwacheon Stream in 2016 and 2022
Beside the stream on either side are roads that also provide nice views of the cherry blossoms. These roads are also home to restaurants, cafes, and shops if you want a snack or a souvenir.
These roads are also home to various stalls when the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival takes places.
Roads on either side of the stream
Even when it’s populated with people, Yeojwacheon Stream is still a placid and romantic spot to see the cherry blossoms. The stream is also pretty long, so if you keep walking, you might be able to find a less populated spot to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Gyeonghwa Station (경화역) is a charming train station with railroad tracks fringed by loads of cherry trees. It was a functioning train station until 2006, when it was put out of service.
Tiny Gyeonghwa Station building
Gyeonghwa Station is particularly popular for the train that sits on the nearby tracks, creating a unique photo opportunity. When I first visited Jinhae in 2016, the train was directly on the tracks, but when I visited in 2022, the train was off to the side a little. I’m not sure if that’s a permanent change or something because of the pandemic.
The train at Gyeonghwa Station
Because of all the trees surrounding the tracks, the path basically becomes a gorgeous cherry blossom tunnel.
This area was featured in the 2005 movie Boy Goes to Heaven (소년, 천국에 가다) and the 2006 K-drama Spring Waltz (봄의 왈츠), adding to the station’s notoriety.
Tons of cherry trees — so nice
How to Get Around Jinhae
Unfortunately, the famous spots in Jinhae are pretty far apart. Yeojwacheon Stream and Gyeonghwa Station are about 2 miles/3.2 kilometers apart.
You can certainly walk between them if you’d like to take in more of Jinhae. It takes about 45-50 minutes to walk between them.
You can also take the bus between the spots. It’s about 20 minutes on the bus between the two areas, including a 10-minute bus ride and walking to and from the bus stops.
If Jinhae is particularly busy that day, you might have to wait a while for the bus, both to be able to board and to be able to navigate traffic. And the buses could be jam-packed with people.
So walking could end up being the better option time-wise if the weather is nice.