Full bloom (mankai) in Osaka was announced on April 6, two days ago, and that was where i went today. Accordingly to the official announcement of mankai, the cherry trees I saw today were at their peak and very beautiful despite the bad weather. The best viewing period for Osaka is expected to last until April 14. The chance of rain is quite low tomorrow, and should make for a better cherry blossom viewing (hanami) experience compared to today. However, rain is forecast for next week and that is likely to affect the longevity of the blossoms, casting them off the branches.
Today was also my wettest reporting day so far, where none of my rain gear kept me nor my belongings from getting drenched by the end of the day. The rain should not have too much of a negative impact on the open blossoms as they are still relatively sturdy having just reached their peak a few days ago. Some of the trees that peaked earlier have the slightest of petals falling, but there are still lots of blossoms to make for a great viewing.
Fukushima is the second city in the Tohoku Region to announce the opening of their first blossoms after Sendai which opened yesterday. Toyama and Kanazawa both announced full bloom in their cities today and we can look forward to the rest of the cities in the Kansai and Kanto regions reaching mankai in the coming week.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park
I started my morning at the Kema Sakuranomiya Park, one of the cities most popular hanami spots. Cherry trees line the river that flowers through the park and I found the blossoms mostly at full bloom. While there was the slightest of petals falling in the rain, there are still a lot of flowers on the trees for hanami in the next few weeks.
I made my way along the park to my next stop, Osaka Castle. This year, in addition to the illumination event at Nishinomaru Park which will continue until April 16 from 18:00 to 21:00, there is a 20 minute boat cruise along the inner moat providing a water-level view of the blossoms. Cruises are available everyday from 10:00 to 16:30. The cherry trees in the castle grounds were all at full bloom and should remain at their best till at least the middle of next week.
Expo 70 Commemorative Park
From the castle, I headed to my last stop the Expo 70 Commemorative Park, colloquially known as Banpaku, which is also one of Osaka's popular cherry blossom spots. The park has a yearly pottery festival in conjunction with the cherry blossom season, and this year is no different. Most of the cherry trees are located in the eastern end of the park, around the pottery stalls. There are also festival food stalls open at the park, perfect for picnicking on the lawns when the weather is good. Like the other two places I visited earlier, the cherry blossoms here are at their peak and should remain at their best till next week.
For those who prefer a bit of urban city shopping, Expo City located just before the entrance of the park opened last year. The large city includes a shopping mall, a cinema and a mini zoo and a kids' amusement park. Making an excursion to the park and the shopping mall easily a whole day event.