The season of Sakura blossom is upon us. Nowhere in the world is the blossoming of cherry trees as awed, celebrated, and obsessed about as much as in Japan. And for a reason, after all the cherry blossom is considered their national flower.
"Hanami" is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura or ume tree.
Every year the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the public track the sakura zensen (cherry blossom front) as it moves northward up the archipelago with the approach of warmer weather via nightly forecasts following the weather segment of news programs. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and typically reaches Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of March or the beginning of April. It proceeds into areas at the higher altitudes and northward, arriving in Hokkaidō a few weeks later. Japanese pay close attention to these forecasts and turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines, and temples with family and friends to hold flower-viewing parties. Hanami festivals celebrate the beauty of the cherry blossom and for many are a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful view. The custom of hanami dates back many centuries in Japan. The eighth-century chronicle Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) records hanami festivals being held as early as the third century AD.
When will it occur this year? Have a look at this chart below, forecasting the blossoms (as of Feb 8th) and plan your visit. Source here
Look at the absolutely stunning time-lapse video above showing last years sakura — cherry blossoms — in the metropolitan Tokyo, around ancient temples in Kyoto, and by the iconic Mt. Fuji. (List of the locations below.)
Not only do you get to see the gorgeous flowers, but many of the iconic sights of Japan too - two birds with one stone!
Photographed from late May through April, the video follows the opening and full bloom of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Yamanashi and Nagano Prefectures. Shot by the very talented Hideto Shimizu, see more of his work here.
Music — Dawn Eden by Hereafter Music
List of Locations:
0:00 — 幸手権現堂桜堤 — Gongendo Park, Satte, Saitama
0:13 — 北本自然観察公園 — Kitamoto Nature Observation Park, Kitamoto, Saitama
0:16 — 瀧宮神社 — Takinomiya Shrine, Fukaya, Saitama
0:25 — 日比谷公園 — Hibiya Park, Chiyoda, Tokyo
0:29 — 隅田公園 — Sumida Park, Sumida, Tokyo
0:34 — 増上寺 — Zojoji, Minato-ku, Tokyo
0:48 — 千鳥ヶ淵 — Chidorigafuchi Park, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
0:54 — 靖国通り — Yasukuni Street, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
1:01 — 靖国神社外苑 — Yasukuni Shrine Outer Garden, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
1:03 — 多磨霊園 — Tama Cemetery, Fuchu, Tokyo
1:04 — 小金井公園 — Koganei Park, Koganei
1:07 — 新三崎橋 — Shin Misaki Bridge, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
1:13 — 靖国通り — Yasukuni Street, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
1:18 — 目黒川宿山橋 — Meouro River, Shukuyama Bridge, Meguro, Tokyo
1:21 — 名古屋城 — Nagoya Castle, Nagoya, Aichi
1:28 — 大阪城 — Osaka Castle, Chuo-ku, Osaka
1:35 — 円山公園 — Maruyama Park, Higashiyana, Kyoto
1:43 — 清水寺三重塔 — Three-story Pagoda at Kiyomizu Temple, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
1:47 — 清水寺 — Kiyomizu Temple, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
1:51 — 産寧坂 — Sannei-zaka, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
1:53 — 蹴上インクライン — Keage Incline, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
1:59 — 白川疎水 — Shirakawa Canal, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
2:03 — 鴨川四条大橋 — Kamo River Shijo Bridge, Chukyo-ku, Kyoto
2:10 — 平野神社 — Hirano Shrine, Kita-ku, Kyoto
2:15 — 祇園白川 — Giom Shirakawa Street, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto
2:18 — 上田城 — Ueda Castle, Ueda, Nagano
2:23 — 松本城 — Matsumoto Castle, Matsumoto, Nagano
2:31 — 弘法山 — Mount Kobo, Matsumoto, Nagano
2:37 — 大町市 — Omachi, Nagano
2:46 — 千曲川堤防 — Chikuma River Embankment, Obuse, Nagano
2:57 — 新倉山浅間公園 — Arakura Sengen Shrine, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi
3:08 — 河口湖北岸 — Lake Kawaguchi North Coast, Yamanashi