Each spring Japanese people enjoy world’s most beautiful cherry blossom, due to the high amount of cherry trees in the country. This magnificent phenomenon usually takes place in the Tokyo/Kyoto area between mid-March and mid-April. The exact moment varies from year to year according to meteorological conditions, and this year it’s just about to begin now! The peak bloom is short and intense, so everything is about timing. Thepickytraveller was there in 2015.
In Japanese there are even 2 specific words related to this beautiful phenomenon: sakura (cherry blossom) and hanami (the act of enjoying sakura). In Japan it’s a very special time of the year which strongly belongs to this fascinating country’s culture.
What makes sakura difficult to witness for foreigner travellers, is its unpredictability. If you want to be sure to experience full bloom at its best, you cannot plan your trip a long time in advance (unless you are able to be there for a longer period). The days just after full bloom are probably the most impressive, with cherry trees fully loaded of delicate flowers in multiple shades of pink and thousands of light petals slowly falling down and gradually covering the ground. But one or 2 days of strong wind and/or rain and puff, no more sakura…
In central Tokyo you will see the cherry trees quite everywhere during sakura. One of the most popular and scenic places to admire them is on the river banks around Kitonomaru park (metro station Kudanshita).
Another very nice place for hanami is the Sinjuku Gyoen park (metro station Shinjuku), but be sure to check the opening hours before you go. Other beautiful places full of cherry trees in Tokyo are Yoyogi and Ueno parks.
If you are in Tokyo for more than a few days, you have to take the Shinkansen for a day-trip to Kyoto. Once there, head to the Philosopher’s path for a serene walk along a picturesque old canal.
The cherry tree blossom in Japan surely is something to see at least once in a lifetime. Enjoy (but don’t forget the rules)!