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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cherry Blossom Season in Japan

Spring is here! Where I'm from there's no spring season, just summer and a fake winter. As you can imagine I don't get to enjoy nice weather too often. So being able to experience spring in Japan was a special moment for me. Not only was the weather nice but I got the chance to see the cherry blossoms up close in a Japanese setting (I say this because the U.S. has cherry blossom trees that were gifted from Japan, but it's totally not the same). Cherry blossoms are a big part of spring in Japan, but there are many other things that come with the spring season that accompany these iconic flowers.

Cherry Blossoms

Let's talk about the main attraction first. Cherry blossom trees usually start blooming at the end of March, beginning of April (during tax season in the U.S.). Depending on where you want to go in Japan you may have to either push your trip back. The southern parts of Japan bloom first while the most northern parts don't bloom until early May. So if you're looking to go to Hokkaido, consider visiting Japan in the first week on May. And let's not forget that if you go to Japan too early you may mistaken plum blossoms as cherry blossoms since plum blossoms bloom first.

Cherry blossoms have a short life. It has three stages: blooming, full bloom and falling. Cherry blossoms remind us of how short life can be but to appreciate the moments you have now. This idea is reflected in the cherry blossoms lifespan. But even though it's sad to see them fall, it's still beautiful until the very end.

The Start of the School Year

I always tell people to watch out about learning Japanese culture from anime because it's sometimes over exaggerated. You always see students walking under cherry blossom trees in anime. This is true. April is the beginning of the school year in Japan. Roads are sometimes lined with cherry blossom trees, so you can have that anime moment for yourself. And since kids on in school, less people on the street (still crowded though).
A line of cherry blossom trees in Tokyo.


One of the truest forms of Japanese culture are hanami parties. Hanami is Japanese for flower viewing, mostly done for the cherry blossoms. It's an activity done with family or friends. You bring a blanket to sit on, food and drinks. I've even seen a party that had a guitar and was singing under the trees. It's just a good time to hang out and have fun.
Under a cherry blossom tree.

Specialty Items

This is my favorite part about cherry blossom season. Everything is designed around the concept of cherry blossoms. This year Starbucks Japan came out with these cute mugs. But it doesn't stop at items, it goes into the realm of food too. I remember taking every opportunity I had to stop at a McDonald's. You may be wondering why I'd even think about going to a McDonald's in Japan. Well, Japan's fast food places know how to get people's attention. That's exactly what happened to me. I couldn't get enough of their Sakura (cherry blossom) float. It was so delicious and sweet, and even pretty to look at. I even made it my last item I bought from Japan that year.
Sakura float from McDonald's in Japan.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. There are too many articles to count with this topic already so I didn't want it to drag on, but I still wanted to share with you some unique experiences you can get by going to Japan during cherry blossom season. It's my favorite time to visit, so I hope I get to experience it again during my life (I say this because all the time I may be going back to Japan is not in the spring).

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