Taking In The Cherry Blossom Season Of Hanami

The Japanese have long been admired for appreciating the simple things in life. From their love of minimalist decors to a hot spring soak on a cold day, they find joy in basic beauty of things. This appreciation extends to hanami (literally, ‘flower viewing’). Nothing says spring has arrived like a throng of locals having a picnic and just watching the transient beauty of cherry blossoms.
From the end of March to early May, sakura (cherry blossoms) bloom all over Japan. The blossoms only last a week or two, so those planning to participate in hanami listen carefully to the weather bureau’s announcement starting February, when cherry blossoms often first bloom in Okinawa, heralding the spring.
Hanami parties have been held in Japan for many centuries, and today, many Japanese still hold hanami parties in public and private gardens and parks across the country. The most popular cherry blossom spots are filled early in the morning, so you should plan your day carefully and prepare to wake up early. If you’re unsure where to go to get the best vantage point, here are some suggestions.

Ueno Park
TYM-Japan-Hanami-Ueno_ParkTokyo’s Ueno Park grounds were originally part of a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan.The park features more than 1,000 trees along the street leading towards the National Museum and around Shinobazu Pond.

Mitsuike Park
TYM-Japan-Hanami-Mitsuike_ParkYokohama’s Mitsuike Park is one of Japan’s ‘100 best cherry blossom spots’. The park features three ponds around which over a thousand cherry trees are planted. During hanami season, the cherry blossom leaves fall gently into the pond, covering the tranquil bodies of water with pale pink petals.

Yamazakigawa Riverside
TYM-Japan-Hanami-Yamazakigawa_RiversideWhen you visit Nagoya’s Yamazakigawa Riverside during hanami, go to the Shikinomichi (Path of Four Seasons) along the Yamazaki River, which is lined with cherry trees for nearly a kilometer.

Heian Shrine
TYM-Japan-Hanami-Heian_ShrineThe grounds of Kyoto’s Heian Shrine has large numbers of weeping cherry trees. The trees reach full bloom a few days later than the other cherry trees, making it an ideal spot for visitors to catch up on hanami. The Shinto shrine grounds has a Japanese-style garden takes up about half the land area (approx. 33060 square meters) so there’s plenty of botanical eye candy.

Expo 70 Commemorative Park
TYM-Japan-Hanami-Expo_70_Commemorative_ParkOver 5,000 cherry trees line the paths and populate the 264-hectare lawn and forest areas of the Expo 70 Commemorative Park – the former site of the 1970 World Exhibition Osaka. The park is lit up in the evenings, giving the trees an ethereal glow.

Further Reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanami
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_how.html
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_where.html

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