by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
It is drizzling slightly as I write from my hotel room in Osaka. This morning had been cloudy. Like sheets of muddy melancholy hung up in the air; the clouds gave a sleepy feel to the day. The cherry blossoms, apparently, were sleepy too. Most of them behaved like incubating butterflies in their pupae, repeatedly pressing the snooze buttons on their alarm clocks, even though they have been semi-awake for almost a week now.
After a warm start to March led to the early opening of the first cherry blossoms in Osaka on March 21, progress slowed to a virtual standstill with less conducive weather over the past six days. Some weather agencies have predicted peak season to arrive at the city by Friday, but I find it hard to believe: even though temperatures will rise tomorrow and continue for a few days, I think it will take at least until Saturday before the blossoms will approach their best.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park
March 27, 2013 - opening (10-50%)
One of Osaka's best cherry blossom spots is the Kema Sakuranomiya Park, with its seemingly endless rows of cherry trees lining the banks of Okawa River. This section of the river is also where the Tenjin Festival, one of the three greatest festivals in Japan, is held annually on July 24 and 25.
The cherry blossoms at the park were at an early stage when I visited today. Perhaps indicative of how early in the season it is was the absence of festival food stalls that usually fill the park once views get better. My guess is it will take three to four more days for the cherry trees here to reach full bloom.
March 27, 2013 - opening (10-50%)
The cherry trees at Osaka Castle were at a noticeably more advanced stage than those at Kema Sakuranomiya Park. Maybe the blossoms feel protected by the castle walls and therefore feel at ease to open. I am only half joking: just a couple of degrees could make the difference between to bloom or not, and the walls that shield the lucky trees from wind might just do the trick.
The cherry blossoms at the Nishinomaru Park of the castle were slightly behind those within the castle's inner moat, but in general I think peak season at the castle will arrive over the weekend. There is a festival going on at Nishinomaru Park from April 4 to 10 (9:00 to 20:00, 350 yen). At the festival there will be live music performances in the evenings, as well as "Sakura Fantasia Laser Shows" on April 6 and 7 (18:25, 18:55, 19:25, 19:00).
Expo 70 Commemorative Park
March 27, 2013 - just open (0-10%)
I stood in front of some trees observing hard, wondering if they were more appropriately classified as "just open" or "opening" - today the cherry blossoms at the Expo 70 Commemorative Park were barely open, and I think peak will arrive here a day or two after happening at Osaka Castle.
When the cherry blossoms are at full bloom here, the park transforms into one of my favorite cherry blossom spots. Its huge premises has over 5000 cherry trees and extremely wide lawns. During the cherry blossom festival, which will take place this year from March 30 to April 14, visitors and many festival stalls will fill the park's grounds, producing a joyous atmosphere. Illuminations will take place during the festival period from 18:00 to 21:00.
On a side note, I stopped by the Umekita area north of Osaka Station before I ended the day. The area is undergoing a massive project to develop it into large commercial, business, leisure and residential district. Phrase one of the project (Grand Front Osaka) is due to be completed on April 26 this year, providing new shopping, dining and entertainment facilities.