For the Japanese, admiring cherry blossom is a national obsession. Hanami (flower viewing) mania sweeps the country from January in Okinawa to April in Hokkaido, peaking in March on Honshu, the island where Tokyo and Kyoto are located. It’s a wonderful excuse to discover or re-discover Japan.
What happens during Hanami?
At Hanami time, whole city parks, botanical gardens and forests become a sea of pink-flower sakura (cherry) trees. Locals come out to walk, picnic and admire the sudden burst of colour and celebrate the arrival of spring. Joining them for a serene morning or afternoon outing makes a wonderful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
The cherry blossom is particularly revered when viewed alongside a temple, bridge or lake, making Kyoto an excellent place to see the blooms. But perhaps the most famous place in Japan to see sakura blooms is at Yoshinoyama, near Osaka, where 30,000 trees burst into life during March and April.
Planning your trip to Japan
© 2009 Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd