As much as we love everything about Japan, nothing compares to the cherry blossom in Spring there. Yes, it’s Spring in Japan and it means Sakura season is coming!
Indeed, spring is likely the most popular time for foreign tourists to visit Japan. However, we can’t be so sure when we can enjoy cherry blossom. Some factors can affect when Sakura comes into bloom. There are years they arrive early after a spell of unseasonably mild weather; there are also years that the flowers come out late because of chillier temperature. Hence, heavy rain can bring an early demise for the lovely Sakura.
In Japan, Sakura is so special. It’s more than just pretty pink flowers or national icon. The cherry blossom symbolise new beginnings, since 1st April is the first day of both academic and financial year in Japan. They are also the floral embodiment of Japan’s deep-rooted cultural and philosophical beliefs, as seen across Japan’s cultural heritage such as tea ceremonies and wabi sabi ceramics.
Japan’s atmosphere during Sakura season is so strong you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Retailers celebrate with the latest blossom-flavoured drinks and snacks, while Japanese do what they called “Hanami”.
“Hanami” or “flower-viewing” is one thing you should do if you’re in Japan during cherry blossom season. Go picnic, bring your food and drinks, join the locals into the local parks and gardens. During this period, Japanese are at their most relaxed. Even some companies will pay a staff to sit in the park all day, so they can get a spot for office Hanami in the evening!
Interestingly, Hanami can be conducted in the daytime sun or in the evening. Typical Hanami spots are landscape gardens, castle grounds and city parks. You will find Japanese crowding these particular areas throughout the Sakura season.
So, how long the Sakura season actually occurs? The cherry blossom usually only hangs around for a couple of weeks! It could be shorter if there’s heavy rain on the cards.
Sakura “front” sweeps along the length of the country each year. The first blossoms generally appear in the far south, Okinawa, in February. It slowly move up to Japan’s central island in late March and early April, and working its way to the further north Hokkaido in early May.
This year, Sakura are due to arrive around March 19 in Fukuoka; March 22 in Tokyo and Osaka; April 8 in northern Sendai. They are also expected to bloom in Hiroshima from March 20 and in Kyoto from March 22. You can check out by yourself, here, to find out exactly when is the first bloom and full bloom of Sakura.
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