Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Travelogue: Visit to Tokyo Part 1- Spring

One of my favourite countries to visit is Japan. I had the privilege to visit the country on a few occasions. The first time was back in 2007 when the husband and I were still living in the UK. We flew in during spring in late march in hope to catch the Sakura (Cherry blossom) season and we were really lucky. More on that later.

Anyway, we went back to Japan again and again as we couldn't resist the charm, and also the husband had to go there a lot for business, so lucky me got to join him there at least 2 to 3 times a year. So between 2009 and 2011, I had gone back to Tokyo at least 6 times. These trips gave me plenty of chances to explore Tokyo and some of the trips were in spring which meant that I got to see more Sakura!

Japan is amazing, no matter which season you choose to visit. I love spring for the cherry blossoms but I also love autumn, my favourite season ever!! I love to see the colours change in the trees, stepping and hearing the crunchy sounds made as you stepped into a big pile of fallen leaves :).

Admiring cherry blossoms in Kitanomaru Park

Anyway, back on topic, back in 2007, we planned a 2 weeks trip to Japan, our first time, coinciding with the Sakura season. Predicting the bloom is a national obsession, you will get media coverage extensively informing you of the prediction for the first bloom to the full bloom. To plan your trip, you will find loads of sites to help you with that. One of my favourite sites is Japan Guide. They have detailed cherry blossoms forecast with dates for each region in Japan. We used it for our trip as we were going to both Osaka further south and Tokyo during our 2 week trip. They even give you the best viewing times, of course the dates varies depending on the weather that year. The year we went, it was predicted to have the bloom in mid may, to my dismay as we were only getting to Osaka in end of march. Lady luck was on our side, when they had a cold blast in march resulting in the buds delaying opening and by the time we got there, the trees in Osaka were in full bloom. A week later when we moved to Tokyo, it was full bloom time there too!!! We couldn't have asked for a better timing!!!

The website also provides information regarding best viewing spots to how do you do "Hanami" which means flower viewing or in this case, cherry blossoms viewing. In addition, it has other useful tourist information on visiting Japan on the whole.  Do check it out if you are planning to visit Japan.

Close up of the beautiful cherry blossoms

What I love about the cherry blossoms are the different colours. You get the various shades of pink blossoms and my favourite, the white blossoms. It's just beautiful and when the trees are in full bloom and a gust of wind comes, it's like winter snowflakes floating down. There is something magical about it. 

Line of Cherry Blossom trees along  a street in Ginza

Cherry Blossoms next to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building

The cherry blossoms take centerstage during the time. The plum blossoms which tends to flower earlier takes a back seat, but they are just as beautiful. Take a look here.

Plum Blossoms
Different colours of Plum Blossoms
Close up of the plum blossoms

It may be too late now for a trip to see the Cherry blossoms, but for the next year's season, you will have loads of time to plan a trip there. I shall leave you with this lovely quote: 

"In the cherry blossom's shade, there's no such thing as a stranger."

 - Kobayashi Issa. 

So now please don't be a stranger here on the blog, please leave some comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

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