Posts Tagged ‘hanami’

The Hanami Season is not over yet! For those die-hard cherry blossom fans like me, Tohoku is the place to visit in the coming weeks. I’ve been longingly looking at a poster on my station’s wall featuring the places in the Tohoku and Yamanashi-Nagano area that will be in bloom from the middle of April to the beginning of May, and I couldn’t help but wish that the cherry blossoms lasted longer, and that I had enough time to see all these places. But as it turns out, I can only see a few places a year.

This year, I will be visiting Miharu in Fukushima to see the Takizakura. Other places on the poster were:

Koushinetsu (甲信越, Yamanashi, Nagano and Niigata)

Shinden no Ooitozakura in Yamanashi (mid- to late April)

Takatoo Castle Ruins in Nagano (early to mid-April)

Matsumoto Castle in Nagano (early to mid- April)

Yahiko Shrine in Niigata (early to late April)

Takada Castle in Niigata (early to mid-April), famous for its night lights

Southern Tohoku (南東北, Yamagata, Miyagi and Fukushima)

Okitama Sakura-Kairou in Yamagata (mid- to late April)

Yonezawa in Yamagata (late April to early May)

Hitome Senbon Zakura in Miyagi (mid- to late April)

Hanamiyama Park in Fukushima (early to late April)

Miharu in Fukushima (mid- to late April)

Aizu-Wakamatsu Tsuruga Castle in Fukushima (mid- to late April)

Northern Tohoku (北東北, Aomori, Akita and Iwate)

Hirosaki Park in Aomori (late April to early May)

Kanagi and Ashino Park in Aomori (late April to early May)

Kakunodate in Akita (late April to early May)

Chiaki Park in Akita (mid- to late April)

Kitakami Tenshochi Park in Iwate (mid- to late April)

Koiwai Farm in Iwate (late April to early May)

Tune in again for more information on flower parks and spring events!


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Higashiyama in Kyoto is another favorite destination of mine… The first time I visited it was autumn, and it was beautiful but visiting the next spring was even more memorable. Everything was just so fresh. The doors of the Chion-in were open, and I felt like it was a sign of spring.

Higashiyama is in Eastern Kyoto and many of the most popular temples, shrines and parks are located there: Gion, Yasaka Shrine, Kiyomizudera, Chion-in, Tofukuji, Kenninji, and Kodaiji. The Sakura Tree in Maruyama Park is something people from all over go there to see.

A lot of tea houses and shops are also scattered all over Higashiyama. And there are small winding roads that lead up from Kiyomizudera that are lined with cherry blossom trees.

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One thing I love about Cherry Blossom Viewing is Hanami Bento. Sure it’s just regular bento stuff decorated with sakura-shaped carrots and pink and green dumplings called dango, but it’s really nice to look at. While I have been to a couple of the big parties where karaoke and nama beer are involved, I sometimes prefer to just head off with a few people who share my interest in photographing the blossoms. About the only time we sit down under the sakura trees is when we have Hanami Bento.

I’m excited about that right now as the Cherry Blossom Season is almost upon us. According to Japan Probe, it could be as early as this weekend. Neil Duckett and Evan Pike of Japan Photo Guide have also put up Cherry Blossom Viewing Forecast Maps.

See Japan Guide’s List of Popular Hanami Spots.

Some tips for enjoying the cherry tree blossoms (Taken form Metropolis Magazine)

  • Repeat the word “kirei” every 10 seconds
  • Remember that volunteering to reserve a spot for your company is a good way to get out of half a day of work
  • Impress your friends by learning an enka song
  • Lose all your friends by singing an enka song
  • Always be the first one to leave so that you don’t have to help clean up
  • Bring a cup with a lid to discourage errant blossoms from ending up in your beer
  • Don’t forget to bring an inconspicuos video camera to catch any memorable behavior by your boss

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Finally! Spring is here! Time to roll out the Hanami mats and sit under the beautiful blossoms…

In the Nara Period (710 – 794), Japanese people viewed Ume (梅, Japanese Plum) Blossoms, as they were the first blossoms that signaled the coming of Spring. Around the Heian Period, however, Sakura viewing parties became more popular among the elite. There are a few reasons why I like Ume: they smell really nice and they come in different hues that are just so pleasing to the eye. I love Sakura, but Ume is a little bit more special, I think.

A lot of the Ume Matsuris have been underway since the beginning of February, but unlike Sakura, Ume is in bloom for a whole month, sometimes a month and a half. There are several places in the Kanto Area where they can be viewed, below are a few suggestions. Enjoy the start of Spring and don’t forget your camera!

Mito Ume Matsuri (Mito, Ibaragi)

Plum blossoms can be viewed at one of the three finest landscape gardens of Japan, Kairakuen. Over 3000 trees, in all colors can be enjoyed from mid-February to late March. It is a 65-minute trip by JR Joban Line from Ueno, costing around 4,020 yen.

Koishikawa Korakuen (Tokyo)

One of Tokyo’s most beautiful traditional landscape gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen is attractive all year round, boasting of an assortment of plum trees, cherry blossom trees and maple trees. Entrance costs 300 yen.

Soga Bairin (Odawara, Kanagawa)

View Hakone and Mt. Fuji during the Plum Blossom Festival at Soga Bairin and Joshi Koen in Odawara City. It is a 2-hour trip from Shinjuku Station to the Shimosoga Station on the JR Gotemba Line, then the park is a 10 minute walk from there. The park has 35,000 trees.

Yushima Tenjin Shrine (Tokyo)

This shrine is popular with students who wish to pass entrance exams. They have poetry readings and traditional concerts on weekends and holidays. The nearest station is Yushima on the Chiyoda Line.

Setagaya Ume Matsuri (Hanegi Park, Tokyo)

A small park with about 700 trees, tea parties and other events are held on weekends until the end of February.

Naritasan Koen (Narita, Chiba)

460 trees can be viewed while on tour of Naritasan Temple, in Chiba. The city of Narita is worth making the trip for, too.

Links and Photos: Japan Guide and Let’s Enjoy Tokyo

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