It was the earliest arrival of Sakura Season for 1200 years.
After a week of blogging, I will address the “Beyond” in the name. So, it is time to write something about someplace outside of Thailand. Yesterday, Japan Times reported about early cherry blossom in the largest island of Japan, Honshu. People were looking at the famous Somei Yoshino cherry tree at the controversial Yasukuni shrine. This tree is the tree expected to open first, and tv-cameras are following this tree live every year. Five blossoms opened to the world at the Shinto shrine, and it is 12 days earlier than usual.
This is the earliest sakura season since 1953. All due to a mild February.
So, officially now it is sakura season. Let the hanami(looking at flowers with your heart) begin.
I figure it will be very different this year due to the pandemic, a lot less crowded and I am sure there are regulations in place to control it.
This is now the second year that I miss out on the cherry blossom period, but luckily I got my chance in Chiang Mai in January. (click to read more about Hanami in Chiang Mai).
For Japan the first cherry blossoms viewing is mentioned in The Tale of Genji, earlier records exist of viewing “ume” that is the plum flower, that blooms slightly before the cherry trees. The cherry blossoms are a clear reminder of the fragility and beauty of our lives. How we bloom, and how we rapidly fade away. Traditionally, it is a welcoming of spring and the beginning of the farming year.
In China it is claimed that this tradition existed long before Japan but that the Japanese have cherished it until today. It makes sense in the way that Japan often imported Chinese haut culture and sometimes did it via the early Korean kingdoms.
Whatever is true, the trees are endemic in the western parts of the Chinese Himalayas.
It seems that historically in all three countries, the court was having parties, dressing up and reciting poetry to welcome spring.
Presently people reserve the best spots under the nicest trees and there will be pick-nicks and often drinking and of course taking selfies with the pretty petals. You will encounter heaps and heaps of couples taking wedding pictures.
But since it is spring, be prepared for spring weather. Only one year has a whole tour of two weeks blessed us with good weather almost every day. Normally there will be quite a lot of rain this time.
We all have personal favourites where to enjoy the sakura. I will post some places here that I have favourable memories from, and the best time is really at the end of the 10-14 day period when you will get cherry snowing. A period when the tiny flowers fall from the trees and cover the stones and the moss on the ground. The pictures are from different years, the oldest ones from 2013.
All these years we have stayed at The Hotel Grand Palace with our tour groups in Tokyo. A bit worn, but a very well functioning hotel. It’s near the Kudanshita metro station, and within walking distance to the imperial moat.
You can experience sakura blossom day and with night illumination. It is also within walking distance of the Yasukuni shrine.
I hope to be back in Japan soon. Maybe for my favourite period enjoying fall/autumn leaves. For now, have to live on the memories.