Hanami – literally meaning ‘flower viewing’ – are cherry blossom festivals across Japan. For centuries, the beauty and quick death of the cherry blossom flower has been linked to the transiency of life in Japan, making it prominent in Japanese culture – from film to tattoo art and everything in between. It is also considered an omen of good fortune, as well as a symbol of love and affection – all good reasons for celebration.
Besides enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the flowers, tradition dictates the gathering of one’s nearest and dearest for a meal and sake, or beer under the blossoming branches. This is often accompanied by tea ceremonies and traditional Japanese performances.
The flowers usually bloom for 10 days between late March and early April and we’ve put toegther some of the best spots for hanami when visiting the Japanese capital.
The Shinjuku Gyoen gardens in Tokyo has 1,500 cherry blossom trees and is a favourite during hanami, attracting huge crowds.
Ueno is a spacious public park where more than 1,000 cherry blossom trees grow. Tokyo National Museum, The National Science Museum and the National Museum of Western Art are all minutes away, making a visit very convenient.
Sumida Park, located by Sumida River, has around 1,000 cherry blossom trees planted along the bank. During the hanami period, a number of events are organised – from cruises to traditional dance and music concerts.
Chidorigafuchi, the moat surrounding the old Edo Castle, is a great spot for flower viewing. Rowing boats are available to hire and lots of dining opportunities from various local stalls are at your disposal. Enjoy the perks of being by the Yasukuni shrine, home to over 1,000 cherry trees.
Finally, a beautiful place for hanami is the Aoyama cemetery - Japan’s first public cemetary. Aoyama is a tranquil place for hanami for those wanting to feel close to nature. Walk down the avenues of blossoming trees or find a quiet spot underneath one to share a moment with a loved one.
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