After the freezing winter has passed the best travelling season is coming, spring! If you are lucky enough to go to Japan in spring, you must do one thing…ohanami!
But wait, What’s ohanami?
Ohanami is a Japanese spring custom. This is where we enjoy the transient beauty of sakura (cherry-blossoms) while having a picnic underneath sakura trees. Cherry blossoms typically bloom between late March and early April in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto with festivals to celebrate it. The peak bloom periods will depend on location and climate. For instance, in Okinawa ohanami festivals are held in January, whereas Hokkaido is in early May.
There are many types of cherry blossoms. Somei-Yoshino is the most famous one. At the beginning of March just before the season, the Japan Meteorological Agency issues ‘sakura forecasts’ every week so we can check when cherry blossoms will start to bloom in our area and plan our ohanami picnic. Japanese people love cherry blossoms not only because they look so beautiful but also because they only bloom for a very short period (2-3 weeks). We enjoy eating and drinking with family, friends and even colleagues under the fully blossomed cherry blossoms. Japanese people also enjoy ‘YOZAKURA’, the illumination of sakura at night. I would recommend you to see it, as it is fantastic and extremely beautiful. Every spring, many parks become crowded with onlookers and street stalls. People have been known to stay overnight in the park to ensure they get a good spot for cherry blossom viewing the next day.
When I was living in Osaka, I lived near Osaka Castle, which allowed me to find the nicest spots to view cherry blossoms.
In central Osaka, there is a long ‘tunnel’ of sakura trees, where you can walk underneath them and enjoy the fully bloomed cherry blossoms. This is called “sakura no toorinuke” which means going through under the sakura trees.
Needless to say, it is amazing and I would highly recommend this to everyone. In fact, I hope one day everyone can enjoy Japanese cherry blossom viewing!