Japan is all about its seasons. When you dine at a fine restaurant every dish honors the seasonal specialities and flavors. When you enter a mall, the interior decor matches the outdoor foliage. In autumn, people travel across the country to witness the changing of the leaves to brilliant reds and golds. But we all know that no season is anticipated and adored nearly as much as the spring. Because spring means winter finally thaws, green buds appear, and FLOWERS BLOOM!
I absolutely loved Japan's spectacular fall colors but I must say that the promise of this season really excited me. As soon as Tim heard about an early-blossoming plum tree the first week of March we were right there.
Let's take a trip around Tokyo in search of the most beautiful blooms!
Yoyogi Park, Harajuku (March 12)
These were the first blossoming trees that we saw this season. A hard rain brought down many of the blooms a few days later, reminding us that we must cherish every viewing we get.
Sumida Park, Asakusa (March 26)
We spent time with Mackenzie, Phil, Vickie, and Jimmy at Sensoji and decided to cross the Sumida River in search of some blossoms. We found some! We also found many people out for hanami, tarps spread and tents pitched, even though the flowers hadn't come into full bloom yet.
Ebisu (March 30)
Our first indication that Tokyo was in full-blown cherry blossom mode - our own Ebisu neighborhood.
Naka-Meguro (April 1)
This was Christina and Mark's first full day in Japan. They probably didn't realize how hanami crazy we were and how many blossoms we'd drag them around to see. hehe
This canal was lined with gorgeous cherry blossoms and offered a more urban blossom scene than the traditional parkscapes you see photographed so often. They also had food vendors while we were there, so we happily tucked away some yakitori and mochi. :-p
Kitanomaru Park, Chiyoda (April 1-2)
The Imperial Palace grounds, covered with blossoming trees, containing a beautiful moat filled with tourists in little blue rowboats - Kitanomaru Park really took the cake. After seeing how gorgeous and romantic this spot was, Mark was inspired to propose to Christina. So the next day we returned. He popped the question and she said... YES!
(for more details you'll have to wait for the Christina & Mark post) ;)
Yoyogi Park, Harajuku (April 3)
This was our official hanami day! We returned to Yoyogi and met up with our friends, Tam & Trevor, their friend Peter, and brought along Christina and Mark for a real hanami celebration. Hanami means flower viewing - a time to pull out a plastic blue tarp, lay out yummy snacks, sake, and wine, and enjoy gazing up at the blossoms with friends (and for some an excuse to get really drunk). We loved watching the locals just as much as we loved enjoying the flowers. People around us played guitars, danced, brought out the badminton rackets, wore a giant Rilakkuma costume, and in general had a really good time.
Ueno Koen, Ueno (April 6)
This is one of the top hanami spots in Tokyo because of the number of blossoming trees - more than 1,000 - and park space. We could not have come on a more beautiful day. The sun was out, the crowds had died down, but there was still vendor food to be had and lots of beautiful blossoms to enjoy. Some of the trees were beginning to lose their flowers so we were also treated to several pedal showers.
We didn't think we could capture the showers but they actually came through!
And that is how you experience the spring here in Tokyo. Hit as many spots as you can and enjoy each and every one for as long as you can. Now the trees are dropping their flowers and green leaves are beginning to bud.
Really, only residents get to see Tokyo in bloom from start to finish. What an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.