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

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2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

Picnic near the cherry trees in Shinjuku Gyoen

Exactly three weeks after my early Tokyo blossom report, yesterday was the official start to Tokyo's sakura (cherry blossom) season. Kaika (first opening) this year started a day earlier than the average year's but nine days later compared to last year's record breaking early season. Today, I headed to Yasukuni Shrine to check out Tokyo's representative tree for myself and revisited Ueno Park and Shinjuku Gyoen. If the current warm weather situation holds up, it is predicted that the cherry blossoms in Tokyo will reach mankai (full bloom) by early next week.

Over in Kyoto, kaika (first opening) is expected to happen tomorrow. Meanwhile, in many prefectures in Kyushu, the flowers opened about a week ago and are expected to reach mankai (full bloom) by the end of this week. Head over to Scott's reports for updates in Fukuoka and Kyoto over the next few days.

Blossoming tree in Ueno Park

Yasukuni Shrine
March 26, 2014 - just opened (0-10%) (Somei Yoshino)

The first place I visited today was Yasukuni Shrine, I was looking forward to see Tokyo's official representative tree. Once there are five to six blossoms open on this tree, it marks the official start to the cherry blossom season in the capital. Most of the cherry trees on the shrine grounds are of the mainstream Somei Yoshino variety and it won't be long before they blossom, provided the temperature stays warm over the next three to four days.

Tokyo's official representative cherry tree in Yasukuni Shrine
A few open blossoms on the representative tree in Yasukuni Shrine
Miko in Yasukuni Shrine
Japanese flags can be bought at Yasukuni Shrine

Ueno Park (Ueno Koen)
March 26, 2014 - just opened (0-10%) (Somei Yoshino)
March 26, 2014 - approaching full bloom (50-80%) (weeping cherry trees)
March 26, 2014 - full bloom (early blooming varieties)

Ueno Park is a very popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). Even though it was only mid morning when I was there, there were people laying out their blue picnic sheets and reserving prime spots for viewing the cherry blossoms.

At the entrance of Ueno Park
Preparing for the upcoming cherry blossom viewing season
State of Somei Yoshino blossoms in Ueno Park

The weeping cherry tree from three weeks ago has blossomed and looked very impressive standing right at the entrance of Ueno Park. Another early blooming variety, the Okanzakura, were starting to lose their petals, leaving the ground pink with small sakura petals. However, most of the Somei Yoshino have barely started to blossom, with the best views expected to reach the park in four to five days. I saw many visitors to the park enjoying themselves taking pictures of the early blooming varieties.

An early blooming variety at full bloom

Shinjuku Park (Shinjuku Gyoen)
March 26, 2014 - just opened (0-10%) (Somei Yoshino)
March 26, 2014 - approaching full bloom (50-80%) (Weeping cherry trees)
March 26, 2014 - opening (10-50%) (early blooming varieties)

My last stop of the day was at Shinjuku Gyoen, home to a wide variety of cherry trees and flowers and one of the best hanami spots in Tokyo. With the Somei Yoshino and the early blooming varieties having already started their season, it will not be more than a few days before the garden is filled with cherry blossoms and people having hanami parties.

A few different cherry tree varieties at their different stages in Shinjuku Gyoen

Moving southeast along a stream in the garden, I found a few weeping cherry trees, whose flowering periods tend to be a few days before the Somei Yoshino's, approaching full bloom. Today, they had the highest concentration of people taking pictures of their beautiful blossoms and the narcissus' growing beneath them. On the other hand, a quick look at the Okanzakura trees that I visited three weeks ago, showed that this variety is at the end of their season.

The two Okanzakura trees at the end of their season
A couple more days before these Somei Yoshino buds blossom
Early blooming variety in Shinjuku Gyoen

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List of Posts:
2019/03/20 - Moominvalley Park opens near Tokyo
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
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