The 2017 cherry blossom season is well underway, with excitement now building for the opening of the blossoms in north and high places including Takayama and the Fuji Five Lakes region; both of which are predicted to see the opening of the first blossoms around this weekend. Meanwhile, the blossoms in central and southern Japan are continuing to progress nicely with many major spots into their best viewing period and beyond. Following Joe's report earlier this week, today I headed to Tokyo to see the state of the blossoms in light of recent inclement weather.
After a period of warm, dry weather, yesterday the capital endured a torrential downpour potentially destructive to the cherry blossoms. Particularly at risk from rain and wind are petals at least 3-4 days old that no longer cling to the tree with the vigor of just-open petals. In the wake of the rain, today I visited three of Tokyo's most popular cherry blossom-viewing spots to examine their state.
My first stop today was at Ueno Park in the northeast of the city. The park's famous cherry tree-lined walkway has seemingly taken a hit from yeterday's bad weather, with many of the trees that hit full bloom last week having lost a good number of petals to the ground. The crowds were significantly fewer here too this morning, with a distinct lack of hanami revelers compared with my visit last Friday.
Despite the fact that the petals are falling, the blossoms remain pretty and worth seeing, especially down by Shinobazu Pond where they are slightly behind those on the park's upper grounds. What's more, with the predicted warm, calm weather over the next few days, the rate of decline of the sakura here should significantly slow, making for good viewing for around another two days.
My next stop today was at Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the capital's most popular sakura spots and among Japan's best places to see late-blooming varieties of cherry tree. The park looked rather spectacular today, with the petals of the Somei Yoshino (the most common cherry tree variety) just starting to fall. If the predicted calm weather prevails, I estimate that it will be another 2-3 days before these cherry trees exceed peak viewing.
Various late blooming cherry trees were giving a show around the park today too, with some approaching and others decidedly at full bloom. Overall, the park remains a great place to see the cherry blossoms of many different varieties.
My final stop today was at Chidorigafuchi which hadn't quite come into full bloom on my visit at the end of last week and so I was hopeful that the destruction caused by the rain here would be minimal. I'm happy to report that generally the cherry trees were just starting to shed their petals. The crowds were significantly less intense than last week too, making for a much more tranquil experience. As with the Somei Yoshino at Shinjuku Gyoen, I expect that the trees here won't exceed their peak for another 2-3 days.