Welcome to Japan’s pink and modern world of cherry blossoms. It is impossible to think of springtime Japan without an iconic image of a sea of cherry trees awash with perfect pink blooms instantly coming to mind.
When the blooms actually arrive (as confirmed by teams of meticulous cherry blossom officials), it is time to indulge in one of the nation’s all-time favourite pastimes – hanami, which literally translates as “looking as flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the blooms.
Why so popular?
The flowers are deeply symbolic: their short-lived existence taps into a long-held appreciation of the beauty of the fleeting nature of life.
The blossoms also, quite literally, symbolise new beginnings, with April 1 being the first day of both the financial and academic year in Japan.
When to visit
the first blossoms generally appear in Okinawa in January and slowly move up the archipelago, passing through Japan’s central islands (including Kyoto and Tokyo) in late March and early April, before progressing further north and hitting Hokkaido in early May.
According to the nation’s revered cherry blossom prophets (aka the sakura forecasters at Weather Map sakura.weathermap.jp), this year’s flowers are due to arrive around March 23 in Tokyo (peaking in full bloom on April 2); March 29 in Hiroshima (peaking April 7); March 30 in Kyoto (peaking April 7); and April 4 in northern Sendai (peaking April 14).
Source : The Telegraph | Japan National Tourism Organization