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Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

Back in Tokyo once again, a mere three days after my last trip. This time I checked out a spot in western Tokyo that we haven't been to this cherry blossom season. Scott is in Kyoto and will bring you an update on the state of the blossoms there which you can read here. Since the beginning of this week, no other city has reported the opening of the first blossoms (kaika) but it will not be long before the cherry blossom season starts in northern Japan.

The spring freeze that hit yesterday gave way to blue skies and slightly warmer temperatures in Tokyo today. Yesterday's light snowfall may have had some responsibility in bringing down most of the blossoms that were on the trees the last time I was in the capital. All three places I visited today had lots of petals on the ground, creating a soft pink blanket. With rain and wind forecast for the next two days, the remaining petals are likely to be swept off, leaving the trees bare and beyond peak.

For those who missed the main sakura season in Tokyo, there are still the late flowering cherry varieties to be seen, though not in great numbers like the Somei Yoshino trees, Japan's most numerous and commonly seen cherry trees.

Koganei Park
April 9, 2015 - beyond peak (Somei Yoshino)

Koganei Park is in a suburb in western Tokyo, about 30 minutes by train from Shinjuku. The park is also a popular cherry blossom viewing (hanami) spot, and also where the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum can be found. Koganei Park can be reached in a 20-30 minute walk from either Hana Koganei Station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line, or Musashi Koganei Station on the JR Chuo Line.

I arrived at Koganei Park bright and early, joining the joggers and dog walkers in the chilly park. The air was a little misty and there was a slight breeze causing the petals to fall ever so gently. The Somei Yoshino trees had shed most of their petals, while the yamazakura, a wild but common cherry tree variety had petals falling. The park is also home to a number of late flowering cherry tree varieties which were at different stages of bloom when I was there: some were at full bloom, while others had about 10-50% of their flowers open.

Very obedient dog poses for a picture
Cherry tree lined path
Not many petals left
Shirayuki cherry blossoms at full bloom
Massive late flowering cherry tree
Late flowering Ariake cherry tree
Leaf blower doubles up as a petal blower
Petal-covered ground

Showa Kinen Koen
April 9, 2015 - petals starting to fall

Showa Kinen Koen is a large park in western Tokyo that can be reached in about 30 minutes from Shinjuku on the JR Chuo Line. Like Koganei Park, Showa Kinen Koen is a popular hanami spot outside of central Tokyo.

Like the last time, I rented a bicycle (410 yen for three hours) and made my way around the park. I found that the cycling roads were covered with more sakura petals, and even completely covering the words on the road in some places. I went back to the sakura garden again and this time, the trees did not look as full and fluffy as they did three days ago. There were more empty pockets and a thick carpet of whitish-pink petals on the ground.

Now that school has started in Japan, there weren't as many children and families out in the park today and those that I saw were picnicking on the lawns and strolling around the tulip garden, part of the ongoing flower festival.

Petals everywhere
Not so many left on the trees
Remaining blossoms and nanohana (rape blossoms)
Tulip garden
Serious walkers heading for the cherry tree grove
More petals in the river today
Cycling path covered in petals

Shinjuku Gyoen
April 9, 2015 - beyond peak (Somei Yoshino)
April 9, 2015 - full bloom (late blooming Ichiyo and Ukon varieties)
April 9, 2015 - opening (10-50%) (late blooming varieties)

My last stop for the day was the popular Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo's most popular cherry blossom viewing spots. Today was definitely a pleasant day to be in the park and take in some afternoon sun after the past couple of cloudy and rainy days. As usual, there were many people on the lawns picnicking, reading, taking a midday snooze, and just being outdoors.

Shinjuku Gyoen is a good place to go if you missed the main cherry blossom season, as the park is home to a large number of late flowering cherry varities. The ichiyo and ukon trees that were opening three days ago have now reached full bloom while the kanzan and fugenzo had about 10-50% of their blossoms opened. I expect these late blooming cherry trees to develop further and remain attractive till at least mid next week.

New recruits and almost empty cherry trees
Late flowering Arashiyama blossoms
Late flowering Fugenzo flower buds
Ichiyo tree at full bloom
Late flowering Gyoiko blossoms
Shinjuku today
Dark pink and light pink petals on the ground
The lady in the skirt was spinning round and round until I got dizzy
Hundreds of ichiyo blossoms
Different types of trees at different stages

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List of Posts:
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report