A walk in the (cherry blossom) park

Updated: Mar 25

It’s the season for appreciating nature – and an abundance of flowers.

Imagine soft petals in shades of white and pink, rustling and dancing to a gentle breeze.

Rows of proud trees with spindly branches that look like they belong in a painting.

The way the sun touches your skin and leaves you feeling giddy.

That fresh, clean scent of the outdoors in spring.

Too bad I can only imagine all this. I’m not even sure if my description is accurate.

Ueno Park cherry blossoms © TCVB
Am I close? (This is in Ueno Park in Tokyo, © TCVB)

But I can dream. 😊

Yes, it’s cherry blossom (sakura) season in Japan.

And I’m wishing I can experience it all, particularly in Tokyo – not just the views, but the hanami (flower viewing) parties and picnics too. The sakura-themed bento lunch boxes and pink drinks. The reverence and quiet celebrations. The people.

But I can’t. 😔 (A lot of us from overseas can’t.)

Although it will also be a bit different for the locals this year. “Because of the pandemic, we can no longer continue the habit (of celebrating the cherry blossoms under the cherry blossom trees with enjoyable drinks and foods) in spring,” says Yoshimi Nagase of the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau and Tokyo Now.

“But the cherry blossoms will definitely bloom this year, and we can feel the beautiful cherry blossoms more by themselves without people.”

So check with the various parks and facilities first to see if you can go, and for current restrictions. (Lucky you, if you’re already in Tokyo.) The season there lasts from around March to April.

Chidorigafuchi cherry blossoms © TCVB
Add "rent a boat" to your to-do list while you're at it (this is in Chidorigafuchi Park, © TCVB)

Did you know…

“The cherry blossom is a symbol of school events in Japanese life,” shares Nagase.

“For me, I love to attend the graduation or entrance ceremony for schools. Those events are always conducted around the end of March and the beginning of April, where we always see cherry blossoms.

“Whenever I see cherry blossoms, I remember those events with friends and families.”

Are you with friends and family? Why not appreciate the cherry blossoms on your own? (I would, if I could.) Nagasa tells us that the most famous spot in Tokyo for cherry blossoms is Ueno Park, while the number one trending spot for the Japanese is the Meguro River.

In the meantime, I’m leaving you with more images to boost both our imaginations. 😊

Yanaka-reien cemetery cherry blossoms (© TCVB)
Yanaka-reien cemetery (© TCVB)

Sumida Park, Sumidagawa River (© TCVB)
Sumida Park, Sumidagawa River (© TCVB)

Sumida Park, Sumidagawa River (© TCVB)
And another spot at Sumida Park, Sumidagawa River (© TCVB)

For more information, visit Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau and Go Tokyo.

Did you also know…

… you get different shades of pink depending on the variety and species of cherry blossom? In some areas they bloom starting January or February, so make sure to call or ask ahead.

Here’s more info from Go Tokyo:

#1 You can buy a cherry blossom bonsai

and raise it and care for it by yourself. You’ll be able to admire it a lot of the time then. 👏

#2 The blooms don’t last long

Since the cherry blossoms will only be there for around two weeks or so, you should enjoy it while you can.

(It also drives home the point that you should appreciate what you have now, or what’s in front of you at the moment, because it’ll be gone before you know it. You might miss your chance. 😬)

#3 There’s a four season sakura

If you can’t be in Tokyo during spring, autumn at Aichi Prefecture could be the next best thing. Catch the shikizakura or four season sakura there.

#4 Gaze at them at night

They look even more magical with lights.

Higashimurayama cherry blossoms at night (© TCVB)
You know I'm right (this is in Higashimurayama, © TCVB)

Try this

Just a thought: Why not have your own cherry blossom-themed picnic at home? You might not be in Japan to witness and experience the season, and that’s okay.

#1 Get bento boxes

and fill them up with your choice of Japanese food.

# Pick colours

that are as similar to cherry blossoms as possible. Buy flowers as centrepieces and for decoration. Go for pink with your food and drinks. (Think about all of the pretty desserts you can buy.) Sakura mochi, anyone?

#3 Spritz a floral scent around your room

#4 Hang pink and white lights

all around your picnic area. If they twinkle, all the better.

#5 Watch anime

I did, and still do. The last one I saw was Violet Evergarden. It helps me take my mind off things. And we probably need that to some degree right now. 🙂