Monday, August 01, 2011

Cherry blossom = beautiful stuff in Japan

A friend of mine began painting a picture today (I know this, because she posted it on Facebook) of something that I find very beautiful ... a tree full of cherry blossom. For me, these are one of the symbols of Japan - and to be honest, I would almost actively avoid seeing them elsewhere because they so typify my Japanese experience! The Japanese coordinate special picnics around the cherry blossom season and the mood really seems to lift around this time - who can be sad when there are these beautiful blossoms falling like snow around you?

I spent two years in Japan and in the first year, the cherry blossom season took me a little by surprise and I didn't make the most of it - not realising quite how fleeting it is, I guess, and how you really want to spend every possible minute you can gazing at these trees in bloom. The second year I was much better prepared and watched the evening news anxiously for the most accurate blossom dates - they often showed maps showing the "sweep" of blossoming starting in the warmer south and heading north to Hokkaido, the last part of Japan to get this special treat. Then I spent almost every non-working hour chasing cherry blossom, through Nara Park and Osaka Castle Park and in Koriyama and Ikoma and a dozen other spots. I harassed my students for all their best spots (even the secret ones where few foreigners have ever been!) and became a cherry blossom obsessive.
Cherry blossom trees at Osaka Castle
All of which goes towards this: if you can time a stay in Japan to coincide with the cherry blossom season, do it. Of course, given that the season is short and its arrival a little unpredictable, this can be tricky, but you can at least try! Late March to early April is the main time on Honshu (the main island and home to Tokyo and Osaka) but don't quote me, it's pretty variable.

Yes, more cherry blossom in Osaka


  1. I love cherry blossom trees - any kind of blossom tree, to be honest. Our neighbour's plum tree is just blossoming now and lending all kinds of gorgeous colour to our garden.

  2. there is something special about cherry blossom isn't there.. when i returned to Australia and found them in a neighbouring suburb i was surprised - i didn't know they grew anywhere but Japan! For me seeing them now - in pictures or in real life - it reminds me of the people and the atmosphere in japan around cherry blossom season. you are right that people went a little crazy over this beautiful flower! seeing people having parties under trees lining the streets always made me smile that kind of 'this is something diffferent smile'.
    I would love to plant some at my new house to remember one of the best times of my life!

  3. @ Allison, oh I wish my neighbours had a plum tree! (instead they have six half-wrecked cars, not quite the same)

    @ Rachel, I think you put it better than I did. I reckon we should go to Japan together one day!

  4. I remember this post. My neighbour's tree is in full and fierce flower at the moment. So pink, so pretty. So much nicer than six cars, I agree...

    Visiting from the Rewind.

  5. The prettiest thing in my garden is a tini (3ft)cherry tree that I have carted from house to house in a big pot. One day I shall plant it properly and then that will be home because I won't move again.

  6. I love cherry blossoms. I can't say I have had the pleasure of seeing them in the native land (like you have). Might add it to my bucket list! Thanks for Rewinding x


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