Hanami in Tokyo

9 years ago by in Japan Archives

The meteorological agency in Japan has a handful of responsibilities. Besides the weather, there is the predicting of things like earthquakes, tsunami and other forces of nature. However, their most important task is to predict the start of the blossoming of Sakura trees throughout the country.

Apparently, this is becoming more and more difficult because of the effects of global warning.

As the flowers only bloom for days, getting the prediction right is of paramount importance. Otherwise folks cannot plan their flower gazing outings and do not have enough time to gather friends and/or colleagues, organize snacks and cool beer – all necessary ingredients for Hanami.

Just read about a new breed of cherry tree (in this Japan Times article) which is supposed to be the answer to this, by offering blossoms that last much longer.

A quick search in Google images revealed – not surprisingly – an abundance of cherry blossom pictures. The Japanese for sure love to mix their favorite past times with shooting some pictures.

Here are some pictures I took in Shinjuku Park and Ueno Park at the start cherry blossom season, a few years ago.

Sakura. Beautiful Sakura.

Layout of the park, with festive decoration.

Most popular are the trees blooming with pink flowers. But there are lovely white variants as well.

One of the first trees to blossom in Shinjuku park that year.

Most of the park looked like a photographers convention.

Shinjuku Park is a great place for Hanami, but also outside sakura season a nice place for a stroll. Besides Yoyogi and Ueno park, this is one of the few big parks Tokyo has to offer. The lack of trees in most areas (including Shinjuku) are compensated quite adequately here.

After a few days representing new life and eternal beauty, a few brisk gusts of wind end their short lives, as they tumble down from their branches.

Sakura. Sad Sakura.

Better enjoy while it lasts! With friends and food, and drink. Food stalls at the entry of Ueno park.

It seems some folks got here before us. No space left.

It is not only indoors that the Japanese take off their shoes.

A common sight during the Hanami season. The new hire gets the job of claiming and protecting a spot under the trees, and sits there the whole day, patiently, before his colleagues arrive in the evening. An important and prestigious task, he was told. Alternatively, homeless folks are given some yen to perform the task.