In just a few short months one of the most beautiful times of the year in Japan will bloom: spring. A time when smiles return to faces, the winter chill starts to leave and more importantly— the sakura, or cherry blossoms, arrive. The delicate flowers are seen as a metaphor for life itself: beautiful, yet fleeting.
The cherry blossoms signal rebirth and new beginnings, and when Japanese people witness the first flushes of pink in parks and on tree-lined boulevards areas they know that the cold, dark days of winter are almost over. It’s time to celebrate life and each precious moment. They use this time to connect with friends and family at festive outdoor hanami (flower viewing) parties where they drink sake, dine on bento (Japanese box lunches) and dango (sweet dumplings), and play music under the pale, luminescent petals—sometimes until late in the evening.
This is the best chance to come and visit Japan for other reasons, too. Air fares are often at the lowest prices in the calendar year while new tours and activities become available and the summer sales begin in earnest. Whatever the reason to return to Japan at this time, be sure to head to a local park, spread a blanket under the cherry trees and soak up the joyful atmosphere of this wonderful and age-old Japanese tradition.
Sakura season usually arrives around the end of March or beginning of April in Tokyo but that all depends on the year’s weather—the warmer the temperature, the earlier the blossoms. Check the English page of the Japan Meteorological Agency website closer to peak bloom for a national forecast and schedule: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html