Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan

Nakamise Street, lined with small souvenir and snack shops -- full of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) -- leads to the second gate and the temple grounds at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Ja

Nakamise Street, lined with small souvenir and snack shops — full of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) — leads to the second gate and the temple grounds at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Japan

 

We were extremely fortunate with the timing of our arrival in Tokyo – at the height of the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) season, which is a really major time of celebration across Japan.  Springtime weather in Japan was very cool this year, delaying the arrival of the first cherry blossoms in Tokyo by several weeks from their typical mid-March appearance.  In the Japanese culture, the arrival of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) signal the end of winter and the beginning of spring (a re-birth of the spirit as well as agricultural cycles).  The one- to two-week short life span of the delicate blossoms also reminds everyone of how fleeting life is and to maximize time with family and friends and the enjoyment of life.

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Japan

 

Word has gotten out to the rest of the world about the ephemeral beauty of the short Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) season, so Japan (especially Tokyo and Kyoto, our next destination) get really crowded with foreigners and traveling Japanese in the spring.  The major parks and shrines and temples and streets with “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) “spots” are jam packed (see out photographs, below).  This is such a big deal that Google maps highlights “Cherry Blossom Spots” on its detailed maps of Japan (this was very helpful to us!). It is a traditional custom to bring a picnic lunch or dinner and to gather with family and/or friends under the trees and to relax with some sake or beer and enjoy an al fresco meal under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms).  The beauty of the season has been captured by Japanese painters for centuries and the major museums rotate their permanent exhibitions to feature paintings of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) during this season.  Food and drink vendors annually come up with a new Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)-based version of an ice cream, confection, drink, etc. with big signage in the restaurants and stores featuring this year’s specialty.  After a few days we, too, came to both appreciate the short-lived beauty of the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) and to understand the near-mania of the collective celebrations of this wonderful herald of spring.

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, was completed in 645 and later reconstructed after being destroyed by air raids in 1945. Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, the temple is usually entered via the iconic Kaminarimon (thunder) Gate.  Nakamise Street, lined with small souvenir and snack shops, leads to the second gate and the temple grounds.  The temple’s pagoda is currently being renovated and covered by scaffolding, but it had only have a minor impact on visiting the site.

 

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

 

The Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at the Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen district were a bonus to the traditional five elements in a Japanese garden – a pine tree, wa

The Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at the Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen district were a bonus to the traditional five elements in a Japanese garden – a pine tree, water, rocks, moss, and a lantern; Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #1 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #1 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #2 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #2 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #3 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #3 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

 

Late afternoon mobs of strollers enjoying the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

Late afternoon mobs of strollers enjoying the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Clusters of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) on a cherry tree at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

Clusters of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) on a cherry tree at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in the gardens of Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district in central Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in the gardens of Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district in central Tokyo, Japan

 

5 thoughts on “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan

  1. As Chuck and I had planned to be in Japan at this time, you photos are creating envy!
    We were derailed to Paris, I am not complaining, so your photos will suffice.Please continue to enjoy and share your travels with us.
    Thank you
    ありがとうございました

    Kathy/Chuck

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  2. We enjoyed sitting under the cherry (sakura) blossoms in Aoyama Cemetery in the 80s and at the Australian Embassy compound for cherry blossom lunch where there was many old trees. The Embassy sold off the bottom of the garden area later but I’m sure the trees and a famous ancient well survived. I played tennis on Fridays many times at the court down at the bottom of that garden.

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  3. No picnics or hordes, but the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, is kind of looking like this right now. Glorious.

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  4. Beautiful! How lucky you are.

    On Sun, Apr 16, 2017 at 5:28 AM, Where in the world is Riccardo? wrote:

    > richardcedwards posted: ” We were extremely fortunate with the timing of > our arrival in Tokyo – at the height of the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) > season, which is a really major time of celebration across Japan. > Springtime weather in Japan was very cool this year, delaying ” >

    Like

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