Cherry Blossoms in Japan

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had ticked something off my bucket list – Cherry Blossom viewing in Japan. So I thought it only right to give a little low down on the cherry blossom viewing spots I visited.

In Japan, it is referred to as ‘Hanami’ (flower viewing) and the Sakura (cherry blossom) season is celebrated all over the country, every spring. We were visiting Japan at the beginning of April so were pretty hopeful to catch some of the best blossoms in Tokyo and Kyoto.

On our first day in Tokyo, we hopped on the train to Naka-Meguro to see the blossoms surrounding the canal. It was pouring down with rain but hey – we’re British! We’re used to it! We weren’t about to let the weather dampen our spirits.

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Blossoms and brollies!
Blossoms and brollies!

The canal itself was very pretty although shame about the amount of surrounding concrete!

The next day we decided to visit Ueno Zoo, and to get to the entrance of the zoo we needed to walk through the famous Ueno Park – a highly rated hanami hotspot. The park itself was very crowded (more so than the zoo!) and people had already started laying out the blue tarpaulin for hanami parties later that day (the Japanese ‘reserve’ their spaces under the blossom trees with blue tarpaulin, where they will later enjoy a picnic. And amazingly, everyone respects this).

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Our next location for sakura spotting was Inokashira Park – a short walk from Kichijoji train station. We’d purchased ourselves some pretty little bento boxes and were planning on having ourselves a lovely little lunch under a canopy of pink but when we arrived at the park we realised that half of Tokyo had descended! If we thought Ueno Park was busy then Inokashira Park was just a sea of people and blue tarp!

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Turns out it was far too cold for a picnic anyway!

A day or two later we headed out of Tokyo towards Kyoto. We had planned a trip to Mt Fuji and a stay over in Hakone, but quite spontaneously, on the day we were headed for our first night in Kyoto, we caught the train to Odawara to visit the beautiful castle there. It was an excellent decision as the blossoms surrounding the castle were quite possibly my favourite. It was a gorgeous sunny day too!

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sakura-at-odawara-castle

The last notable stop on our cherry blossom trail was the Gion district of Kyoto. As a fan of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, a stroll around Gion was high up on my Japan wishlist, something made all the more magical with the blossom petals gently blowing through the air.

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The country is dotted with cherry blossom trees during this time of year, but the above were some of the more prominent spots for picnicking and picture taking. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get that Starbucks sakura frappucino I fancied, but I did try a weird McDonalds sakura drink concoction… let’s just say I won’t miss it! Sakura green tea kitkats, on the other hand, are actually pretty good!

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