Pedal Boats Swan Sakura Lake EUR Rome Italy

How To do Hanami at the Japan Walk in Rome?

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Hanami in EUR, Rome

Every year between March and April, the Parco Centrale del Lago in the EUR district of Rome turns white due to the blooming of Japanese cherry trees, the sakura. We visited it when people were practicing the famous spring contemplation of flowers, hanami. It is a special city trip in a spring season.

Barcheria Japanese Walking Sakura Rome Italy

During the hanami, in the years preceding the pandemic, Roman citizens could be observed immersed in typically Japanese habits. For example, picnics were organized under sakura with people who dressed in traditional clothing such as kimono or yukata.

Sakura tree Basilica dei Santi Pietro e Paolo Rome Italy

The central park of the lake locates in south of the center of Rome. The long road via Cristoforo Colombo that connects the capital to the coast of Ostia crosses the lake. Around the park, you can see the EUR district, which was built by the fascist regime in the 1930s to host the 1942 Universal Exposition (EXPO). Due to the outbreak of the Second World War, the Exposition of 1942 was never realized.

Bird Lake Sakura Cherry EUR Rome Italy

The EUR lake can be easily reached by metro line B by getting off at the EUR Palasport stop. Entering the park, you can enter from the north side of the Japan Walk, the path where the Sakura flowers bloom. However, the north side is less luxuriant. We advise to cross the pond via the passage located at the west bank. Once on the south side, you can get lost in the beautiful scenery formed by blooming cherry trees. The park becomes an oasis of tranquility and peace, far from the chaotic center of Rome.

Travel tips

The park area is about 16 hectares wide, divided equally between the artificial lake and the green area. The lake is populated by a varied fauna consisting of fish, geese, ducks and swans. Here you can enjoy various recreational activities. For example, La Barcheria offers the possibility of visiting the lake by boat. The boat trip lasts 30 minutes and costs € 10 for adults and € 5 for children.

Duck Pedal Boat Parco Centrale del Lago EUR Rome Italy

Tourists can also choose to visit the lake independently, renting pedal boats at a cost of € 5 every 30 minutes (the swan-shaped pedal boat costs € 7 instead). You can also rent other means such as rowboats, Standup Paddleboarding (SUP), water bikes and inflatable boats.

Swan Pedal Boat EUR Rome Italy

If a tourist wants to relax after the boat trip, he can stop at the bar and enjoy aperitifs. Continue to the direction of south-east, you will reach the central part of park where it is finally possible to admire the magnificent garden of the waterfalls. This is a place precious to the Romans, often used as a film set.

History of the Park and Lake

The design of the pond was started shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Raffaele De Vico took care of its construction together with Marcello Piacentini, architect loved by Benito Mussolini and examiner of the projects proposed for the entire EUR area. The original project was stopped because Italy entered Second World War.

Parco Centrale del Lago Pedal Boats Swan Rome Italy

After the war, Raffaele De Vico himself resumed the initiative together with the engineer Giorgio Biuso, who was in charge of the hydraulic part to create the artificial basin. In 1955 De Vico became one of the most important Roman park designers, having restored a series of important green areas including the Giardino degli Aranci and some areas of Villa Borghese.

Sakura Japanese Parco Centrale del Lago EUR Rome Italy

On the contrary, Piacentini designed, together with Pier Luigi Nervi, the Palazzetto dello Sport (indoor arena) overlooking the lake. The Palazzetto hosted the boxing, weightlifting and basketball competitions of the 1960 Olympics. The Central Park of the lake was inaugurated a year later, in 1961.

Nobusuke Kishi donated Sakura trees to Rome

In 1959, Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi donated 2,500 sakura plants to Italy during an official visit. The plant is a symbol of Japan and the short flowering represents the delicacy, fragility and beauty of life. Most of the cherry trees were planted around the EUR lake, giving life to the Japan Walk.

Japanese Walking Rome EUR Italy

Unfortunately, Kishi had a terrible past. He was minister of economic development of Manchuria, the puppet state established by the Japanese in northeast China in 1931. In this role he enslaved millions of Chinese and was known as the monster of the Shōwa era (the era referring to the reign of the emperor Hirohito). Back in Japan, Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō appointed Kishi as minister of trade. As a close associate of the prime minister, Kishi signed the declaration of war on the United States.

Sakura Flower Cherry Bloom EUR Rome Italy

Allied forces imprisoned Kishi for three years after the end of World War II. In an operation of political cynicism, the Americans freed him and gave him the task of leading the country towards a pro-American foreign policy. He returned to politics in 1952 when the Allied forces ended the occupation of Japan.

After Nobusuke Kishi became the prime minister

After becoming prime minister in 1957, Kishi set himself the goal of renegotiating the alliance treaty between Japan and the United States in a nationalist key. His intention was to modify the treaty to remove not only the disparities in favor of the Americans, but also some limits to the rearmament of the land of the Rising Sun.

Airplane Sky Sakura Tree EUR Rome Italy

The Japanese feared that a rearmament of the army would lead to a new war. The Japanese left wing thus organized the largest demonstrations in the history of the country, which took the name of Anpo protest. Despite the protests, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan went into effect in June 1960. A few days later, Kishi resigned as prime minister and was wounded by a mythomaniac who stabbed him in unclear circumstances.

Sakura Cherry Japanese Park Lake EUR Rome Italy

Despite only three years as prime minister, Kishi had an important guiding role. He was one of the founding fathers of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) which has ruled Japan to this day with only two brief interruptions. Furthermore, he is the maternal grandfather of Shinzo Abe, the longest serving prime minister in the history of the land of the Rising Sun.

Note: Prices reference time mentioned in the article is 15 June, 2022

Written by Enrico, Translated by Hua and Photo from Hua

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