One of the expected highlights of our trip to Tokyo this year was going to be the chance to see the Sakura, or Cherry Blossoms, in the country where they are most famous. We have our fair share of beautiful ones here in Vancouver; however, in our minds seeing them in Japan would be a more authentic experience. As our trip neared we realized just how important the Cherry Blossoms are to the Japanese when we discovered some of the many Sakura forecast and report websites [www.jnto.go.jp] out there. Unfortunately we also realized that the blossoms came out historically early in 2013 and that there was a good chance that we would miss them!
During the week leading up to our trip some of the message boards that we were following warned that a good storm might mean the end of the Sakura season and upon landing at Narita airport we were welcomed by heavy rain and high winds. Nonetheless, we decided to press on and we moved our Cherry Blossom day earlier in our plans just to see what was left. We woke up the next morning with beautiful sunshine coming through our hotel windows, giving us hope for the day. That hope was quickly dampened when we stepped outside into the very gusty winds that were left over from the previous night’s storm.
After a bit of research we made the decision to try Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, conveniently located within easy walking of the Shinjuku Metro station. The reports that we had read stated that Shinjuku Gyoen had some of the later blooming trees in Tokyo. We also liked the fact that the national park requires a small entrance fee meaning that it should be less crowded on a sunny Sunday. Upon entering the gates we found a mix of locals and tourists looking at maps trying to figure out where to go. While Mrs A|T looked for an English map a kind older gentleman with a uniform handed me a Japanese map and motioned for me to unfold it. He then pointed to one particular area and in a very heavy Japanese accent told me “best….here”. After giving him an arigato gozaimasu we were on our way. 5 minutes later we came upon a large field surrounded by what could have been the last best Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo for 2013.
In Japan many people practice Hanami, or flower viewing, at this time of year by picnicking under Sakura trees [www.japan-guide.com]. We saw a fair number of people hanging out on mats under the trees and nearly as many walking around and taking photographs. The winds were up and down all day but we enjoyed an entire morning among the cherry blossoms and exploring the park.
Beautiful photos 🙂
I’m so glad you had a chance to do some hanami for yourself. We had the same worry about missing the blossoms when we visited Japan last year, and I found myself checking the bloom reports in the days leading up to the trip. Unless someone can afford last minute airplane tickets (certainly not me), I guess you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Yes, it seems like there’s a bit of luck required. Maybe next time we’ll just plan for more time in Japan giving us a bigger window of opportunity?
Beautiful, beautiful photos! I just commented on Muza-chan’s post that seeing the cherry blossoms in Japan has always been very high on my travel wish list. I’m glad you were able to find some – it would be so disappointing to travel that far and miss the blooms. I have missed the lavender in Provence and the tulips in Ottawa because of an early blooming season the years that I visited and I was very disappointed – not sure if I could survive missing cherry blossoms in Japan! 😉
Thanks. It’s too bad that you’ve missed out in Provence and Ottawa – but good reasons to go back I suppose!
Soo beautiful. I really have to go and see it for myself some time.
I’m so glad you were still able to catch the last of the blossoms. The photos are just lovely. I think Hanami is such a beafutiful practice. I always want to go to Japan for the cherry blossom festival; thanks for taking me there vicariously.
I was very glad that we made it! The variety of cherry blossoms surprised be, but seeing first hand how the locals celebrate the Sakura season was the most interesting.
I would love to see the cherry blossoms in Japan! Loved your pictures.
Beautiful photos! It must have been a great experience to see them first-hand in Japan… I have only seen them in Switzerland a few years ago, but as you said, picturing them in Japan is a whole different level 🙂 Glad you made it on time!
Thanks. I highly recommend it, although it was still a little chilly in Tokyo on some of the days.
Gorgeous!! I was there a few weeks ago and it was so beautiful.
I saw your pictures and they’re great! I’m hoping to catch the start of the season one day when the trees are even fuller….
I am so glad you did not miss the flowering. How romantic to picnic under the trees. Love you blossom collage – beautiful.
Thanks! It was actually pretty hard picking the best out of the 40+ pictures that I have from that morning!
So many beautiful photos! ^____^
It’s too bad that the cherry blossoms are already gone in most parts here in Japan.
I’m hoping to catch a few up in the Tohoku region in May – like I did last year.
I’m jealous! One day I’d love to have enough time to explore more parts of Japan!
Beautiful set of spring photos.
Finally blossoms are gone in Atlanta. But, we still have azaleas…
Thanks! They are just starting here in Vancouver so it feels like we got a bonus.
Pretty darned good timing – and what exquisite photos. I’d definitely want to time a trip to Japan for the blossoms. WE’re a solid moth out from any blossoms I think.
Gorgeous photos!! What we look forward to most in the spring are the Texas bluebonnets that grace our roadways!
Beautiful! I’m so glad you caught some of the sakura in bloom. I love the sakura collage you put together. We stayed near the Shinjuku station but never made it to this park. I had to smile at that gentleman helping you. We had a lot of older gentlemen stopping to help us when we visited and the Japanese helpful attitude is one of the reasons we love Japan. I’m really looking forward to your Disney posts 🙂
Such spectacular trees!
Great timing! I used to see them many times in DC, but as you said, seeing them in Japan would be fantastic.
Fun to read about your experience in Japan. We are still enjoying the cherry blossoms here in the Seattle & this year for some reason I think they are particularly lovely. I love how there is a term/word for “flower viewing” in Japanese!
Nice shots. On Wednesday, I ran a story about the documentary “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” which was filmed in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Beautiful shots, and I glad that you were successful in your quest. Our blooms here in Korea are pretty much gone. We have had such a cold spring (like..think of it snowed yesterday!). I did get out to get a few shots, but nothing like in other years. In fact, I must get those shots downloaded! I hope you enjoyed the rest of your time in Japan.
I’d picnic under the cherry blossoms, what a beautiful, romantic picnic that would be! I love your photos. I’m looking forward to viewing some flowers here in the US- the wild flowers are just starting to spring up at our house.