Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan

cherry blossomsIf you are spending your holidays in April, Japan is a great choice as the much-awaited cherry blossom viewing season is at its peak. Cherry blossom festivals in Japan are a feast for the senses. Here you will get to experience exquisite tea ceremonies, watch traditional Japanese dance or music performance, and sample delicious Japanese foods while viewing the delicate white and pink blossoms. It is the time of the year when Japan’s time-honored culture and traditions are celebrated best.

Locally known as sakura, cherry blossoms bloom in chorus in the spring for a week. There are more than 400 varieties of cherry trees in the country. Sakura is Japan’s unofficial national flower and is often used to set up diplomatic relationships between Japan and other countries. Cherry blossoms reach full bloom and gracefully flutter to the ground in their final stage. For the Japanese people, sakura symbolizes human life, nobility, and transience.

Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is one of the most important Japanese customs. This practice can be dated back to the seventh century when the aristocrats wrote poems while admiring the beauty of cherry blossoms. Hanami parties are fun. Think of a picnic under cherry trees. People usually do BBQ, bring food, or buy from vendors for cherry blossom viewing parties. Popular Japanese foods in hanami parties are: dango, oden, yakitori, inari-zushi, sushi rolls, sake, and teppanyaki BBQ.

The festival of cherry blossoms is generally celebrated around last week of March until the middle of April. This year, the peak bloom period is expected to happen from April 3 to April 9. If you want to witness this stunning natural event, Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are the places to be. Cherry blossoms bloom earlier in Tokyo and several days later in Osaka and Kyoto.

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