Cherry blossoms, also known as sakura in Japan, are the small, delicate light pink flowers that bloom from cherry blossom trees. The springtime phenomenon is truly a sight to behold but unfortunately its beauty is just too brief. After only two weeks, the petals of the soft pink canopy, drop to the ground, falling like feathery snow before they wither. Sakura is a flower native to Asia. It can also be found in China, South Korea and India but today it blooms even in other parts of the world.
Every-time Spring comes, the Japanese celebrate a tradition called hanami. Basically, it is the simple pleasure of walking under blankets of pink cherry blossom trees, taking in the picturesque view, recognizing and reflecting on the beauty of nature. People often gather around the trees, have picnics, and play some music. It has become so popular with the locals as well as to the huge flock of tourists every sakura season that the Japanese even coined the term Hanami party. If you have seen Makoto Shinkai’s animated film 5 Centimeters Per Second, where cherry blossoms were used as a metaphor for the characters’ love in such a romantic, poetic way; it is apparent how the Japanese take pride on this iconic source of national pride. The imagery of the sakura really transcends to Japanese art, music and film.
If you are planning on visiting Japan, it would be perfect to time your stay during the Cherry blossom trees’ prime, which stretches from early March to until the second week of May. Considering Japan’s size and geographical spread, the cherry blossoms appear at different times and usually only last for several days.
Top Destinations for Cherry Blossom Viewing
There are so many cherry blossoms viewpoints in all over Japan!
Here are the popular spots for Sakura viewing.
Around Mt. Fuji（富士山周辺）
Hailed as Japan’s most iconic natural wonder and the most well-known active volcano, Mt. Fuji is a famous spot for those who want to experience hanami. Given the mountain’s popularity, the area can often be very busy but don’t worry because there are tons of vantage points where you can see sakura flowers. Mt.Fuji and Sakura, the golden combination for the magnificent photogenic photos. 😉
Nara is just a quick train ride from Kyoto that is why it has gained popularity as a convenient day trip. If you happen to drop by make sure you visit the Kasugataisha Shrine, because here you will be able to see the sakura in its abundance and glory amongst the serene temple grounds.
Even if you find yourself in the heart of the bustling metropolis that is Tokyo, there is still a chance for you to experience hanami. As expected, Ueno Park is one of the spots that gather the most tourists so finding space underneath the pale pink Somei Yoshino cherry trees can be quite tricky.
Goryokaku Park, Hakodate, Hokkaido（五稜郭、函館 -北海道）
A picture-perfect spot south of Hokkaido, Goryokaku Park offers the ultimate aerial sakura experience. More than a thousand cherry blossom trees were planted in this area so we’re sure you can get your own spot.
Hanami Picnic Party
If you are planning to enjoy Hanami this coming spring, it would be best if you bring along your own picnic blanket that you can set up under the roof of pretty pink flowers. The usual food items enjoyed during sakura viewing are sakura mochi, fish cakes, sushi rolls, and tamagoyaki or Japanese-style omelet; though it is really up to your preference. After your picnic, remember to take all your trash with you so that others can enjoy hanami in a clean park. It is also imperative to treat the cherry blossom trees with respect by not climbing on them and by not breaking their twigs because it can prevent the blossoms from growing again come next spring.
Cherry Blossoms and The Japanese Psyche
To the Japanese, cherry blossoms are more than just beautiful. They see it as a representation of life itself, vivid, glorious, though just never long enough. A reminder that we are as fleeting and life is as fragile as the cherry blossoms blown away by the soft wind. However, sakura are also seen as a symbol of renewal and new hope, because it signals not only spring where everything grows anew, but also the start of the Japanese calendar year, a chance for a new beginning. Truly, Cherry blossoms are not just a tourist attraction, or a national icon, it is also a metaphor.
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