For a few short weeks every year, Japan is painted in a shade of pastel pink as its cherry trees begin to blossom with delicate flowers, known as sakura. As the blooms sweep their way from the south to the north of the archipelago, the landscape becomes awash with pinkish hues and cherry blossom fever follows the natural phenomenon in its wake as it moves through Japan’s islands. Marking the beginning of spring, the arrival of the famed cherry blossom is celebrated and swooned over in every corner of the country in a nationwide celebration called hanami.
Traditionally, the pink blossom represents the beautiful, yet transient nature of life, and is an eternal reminder of Japan’s contrasting seasons. Whilst the Japanese take great pride in predicting its arrival, there are simply no guarantees as to when the blossom will start to appear. The first blooms tend to be spotted in Okinawa in January, before reaching Kyoto and Tokyo around late March and the making its final appearances in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido in early May. Before too long however, the mankai, or fully bloomed flowers, fall to the ground, appearing snow-like as they cover the ground in a blanket of petals.
Taking part in the celebrations is an unmissable experience and can be seamlessly added to your itinerary. Whether it’s a short stroll through one of Tokyo’s ancient parks, followed by a picnic under a yoshino tree or tucking into a pink infused bento box overlooking Mount Fuji, there are so many ways to involve yourself in the exuberant celebrations and thus, the rich cultural heritage of Japan.
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