Last week and over the weekend, cherry blossoms all over southern and central Japan—from Kyushu as far north as Tokyo and Kanazawa—have reached full bloom, beginning the season's peak week for many of the country's best sakura viewing spots.
Despite a rainy week last week, warming temperatures have kept the blossoms opening on schedule this year, and with upcoming weather forecasts looking fairly sunny later this week in those areas, those planning hanami (sakura-viewing) parties may have a perfect week ahead of them.
The Tohoku Region, in northern Honshu, is seeing its blossoms just starting to open now as well, and should be reaching their peak over the next couple weeks.
Today, I made my way to Tokyo to check on the cherry blossoms in a few of the capital's best sakura spots. I am happy to confirm that the city's blossoms were indeed at full bloom today. Heavy rain predicted for tomorrow, however, may take down a lot of petals prematurely and shorten the season in some of the city's hanami spots.
I started my day a bit outside of the city center today, heading to the western suburb of Tachikawa to Showa Kinen Park. Located about 50 minutes west of Shinjuku, the massive park boasts a huge variety of plantlife, seasonal flowers, gardens, and even some impressive autumn colors, but in mid-April, its several hundred cherry trees are its main attraction.
Today, the park's blossoms had just reached full bloom. The trees in the north part of the large, central Open Field were especially nice this morning, already attracting plenty of visitors. Compared to the sakura spots in central Tokyo, the spaciousness of the grounds here and the relative out-of-the-way-ness make it a less-crowded, peaceful place to enjoy the blossoms.
The blossoms here tend to reach their peak slightly later than central Tokyo, and seemed just slightly behind the pace of the other spots I visited today, which could make this a good spot for visitors who happen to miss the city's main peak.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks, was my second stop for the today, as well as a stop for throngs of blossom-watchers out to catch the sakura at their peak. Almost all of the park's sakura trees were in full bloom today, having advanced considerably since Andrew's visit last week.
Most of the sakura surrounding the lawns of the expansive English Garden near the main gate, as well as those dotting the Japanese Garden, were at or near 100% developed today, making for some lovely views. The trees in the back of the park near the Sendagaya Gate were a bit more advanced, however, and were starting to drop their petals.
Assuming mild weather, the majority of the trees here will likely have plenty of fluffy blossoms to enjoy through the rest of the week. Just expect some serious crowds this coming weekend!
My last stop today was today was to Ueno Park one of Tokyo's classic cherry blossom viewing favorites. To my surprise, despite achieving full bloom status last week during Sam's last report here, the trees were still going strong at full bloom today as well.
Compared to last week, the Shinobazu Pond area in the lower reaches of the park was fully advanced today, attracting huge crowds shuffling along the narrow, cherry tree-lined path cutting across the pond.
As usual, hanami picnic spots will be prime real estate this week, so come as early as possible to claim your spot!