It’s that time of year where winter’s chill is carried away by large gusts of spring breeze, leaving the cherry trees free to blossom in its wake. As the season usually coincides with school and company entrance celebrations, you’ll find many Japanese camping out under the cherry blossoms with beer and picnic lunches in tow. This custom, called hanami, literally means flower viewing but nowadays you’ll find the blossoms serve more as a nice backdrop for boozing and chatting than the actual focal point of the outing they once were traditionally.
Because I took a trip to Singapore right as the blossom petals were first opening, and then went to the Kanamara Matsuri (NSFW) the following weekend instead of joining in on any parties when the cherry trees were blooming at their fullest, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a lot to report about this year’s hanami. Still, I was fortunate to spend a small amount of time surrounded by their beauty and snap a few pictures . And hey, who doesn’t love seeing cherry blossom photos?
I visited my former host sister, who lives about 15-20 minutes away on foot from Iidabashi Station on the Toei Ōedo, metro, and JR Sōbu lines. When you exit the station you can see a long sidewalk that winds around the Kanda River (formerly Edo River), across the bridge, and wraps back around again. Cherry trees line both sides of the walk, and we decided to take a walk together with her daughter through the area.
If you’re looking to plan a romantic date, there’s a lovely Italian restaurant nearby called Canal Cafe that affords its diners a gorgeous view of the cherry blossoms as they enjoy their meal. Dinner time is a bit of a splurge, but their lunch prices are quite reasonable. The line for a table was insanely long, so make sure to get a reservation in advance. In addition to admiring the cherry blossoms, you can also rent a boat and feed the koi fish as you paddle on the river. Elementary school age children or younger might also enjoy taking advantage of their free rides for kids in celebration of Children’s Day on May 5th.
It was great weather, and there were a lot of people out and about. A lot of Waseda university students and nearby company workers had make-shift hanami set-ups.
After we returned to her place, we noticed this office building from her balcony that really got into the spirit of the season.
On the way back from Tokyo late afternoon, I took a photo a graveyard overlooked by some cherry trees from the shinkansen window.
Then yesterday on my lunch break, I visited our area’s biggest shrine to catch the tail end of the season to just people watch and enjoy a good book under the trees.
It seems this family was enjoying some weekday hanami, too.
Here are some more snaps:
It’s hard to believe the season is almost over for another year. Hope those of you in Japan were able to make the most of it while it lasted! 🙂