Explore Japan! Cherry Blossoms

sakura

The time has finally come. Winter is behind us and the canopies of sakura trees all over Japan are set to come alive with beautiful pink blossoms. At this time, the people of Japan come together to trace the journey of the cherry blossoms from the shores of Okinawa to the tip of Hokkaido in what can only be described as a national obsession. Join Japan Centre as we jump into this year’s cherry blossom frenzy.

While the folk of Blighty may get a little cheery when the yellow hoods of daffodils emerge or when trotting amongst bluebells, there is no comparison with the elation felt by Japanese when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom in March. Not only are they a beautiful symbol of the changing seasons, of Japan and to many, life itself, but they also represent an excuse for a massive nationwide party. This is the time societal pressures fall by the way side, like blossoms falling into a flowing river.

All eyes are on the forecast – not the weather forecast with Michael Fish, but the altogether more vibrant sakura forecast, which predicts when the bloom will be at its peak in each prefecture. Let’s take a look at 2015’s:

sakura forecast

 

As you can see, the cherry blossoms are set to rain down on Kyushu in late March, whilst Tokyo will see its share of the pink stuff around 5th April. This wave of sakura passes through the whole of Japan, making the already gorgeous scenery shine even brighter with ethereal wonder. Let’s take a look at some cherry blossom hot spots in Japan.

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Hiking during cherry blossom season can really pay off. Sakura in rural Nagasaki Prefecture – author’s image
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Hanami translates as ‘flower viewing’ but has come to mean the act of picnicking under the cherry blossoms. This is done throughout Japan and can become quite boisterous, though these ladies in Hiroshima seem very serene (for now).
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Sakura splendour frames the famous “Philosopher’s Path,” an ancient walkway in Kyoto.
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During cherry blossom season, pink fortunes called omikuji are picked and tied to trees, with beautiful results as seen here in Kyoto.
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A splendid way to view the blossoms is to charter your own rowboat, as is done here in Chiyoda, Tokyo.
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Night viewing of sakura is known as yozakura. Places like Takada Castle Park in Niigata Prefecture light up their bloomage for night time beauty and associated revelry.
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Hanami parties often last well into the night, like this one in Matsubara.

If you’re enviously wishing you were on a flight to Japan right now, never fear. We think it’s about time we brought the spirit of Hanami to good old Blighty. Whip out an old blue tarp (obligatory for cherry blossom parties) and get on down to Kew Gardens, where blossoms like the one below can be found aplenty.

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You’ll be needing the perfect hanami supplies to celebrate the cherry blossom season and Japan Centre is on hand to help. Try our hanami picnic recipe, grab some Japanese confectionery and drinks and let the festivities begin

Arigatou to Sue Ann, Becca Edwards, Carly Louise, Myself and the good people of flickr for their great pics.