After five days of warm weather, the temperatures across the country took a small dip today. However, the higher temperatures over the past few days really encouraged the cherry blossoms to bloom and a few more cities reported full bloom status today. Osaka was one of them, as well as Okayama where I was today. Despite the constant rain almost all day in Okayama, cherry blossoms that just open are relatively strong and can withstand a bit of rain and wind. However, the same is not true towards after the blossoms have been open and exposed to the elements for about a week.

The sakura flowers that I saw in the Okayama today had just reached their peak and should remain at their best for the next week or so. The weather forecast for the city tomorrow is warm and sunny, while it is rain forecast for Sunday and Monday. I'm sure there would be many people taking advantage of the good Saturday weather to have cherry blossom viewing (hanami) parties.

While many of the southern and central cities in Japan have reported the start of their cherry blossom season, the sakura frontline has started to move towards the Tohoku region. Fukushima started their sakura season on March 30, while Sendai started theirs today, two days earlier compared to last year and over a week earlier compared to average.

Korakuen Garden

Full Bloom

Korakuen Garden was my first stop for the day and I arrived to a persistent drizzle that lasted the entire day. Despite the rain, there was a healthy stream of visitors to the popular garden. The garden was very spacious and there is a cherry tree grove with about 50 trees in the southeastern end. The trees had many blossoms open and were beautiful to see in spite of the rain. I expect the sakura blossoms to get even more intense over the next couple of days with the best viewing period from now till the end of the first week of April.

Asahi Riverside

Full Bloom

From the garden, I went for a walk along the Asahi Riverside parallel to the eastern side of Korakuen Garden. Cherry trees line the banks of the river and today, they were at full bloom and incredible to see. The cherry tree lined path goes on for about 1.3 kilometers and there are festival food stalls and lots of space for hanami parties during the sakura season. The riverside is also illuminated until April 6 from sunset to 21:00. Like the cherry trees at Korakuen Garden, their best viewing period is from now till the end of the first week of April, and the flower bunches should intensify and get fluffier over the couple of days.

Handayama Botanical Garden

Full Bloom

Handayama Botanical Garden was my last stop for today and easily my favorite stop for the day. There are about 45 different varities of cherry trees and they make up the majority of the trees at the garden. I had a great time walking along the paths at the botanical garden and enjoying the view a million cherry blossoms that surrounded me. The sakura flowers here are also at full bloom and their best viewing period should be until the end of the first week fo April. Handayama Botanical Garden is illuminated until April 4 from sunset to 21:00 (entry until 20:00). Entry to the garden costs 308 yen and the nearest bus stop is about a five minute walk from the entrance.