Cherry blossom

Join a picnic party to enoy Japan's beloved cherry blossom.

Yearning fills my heart

When the candles are lit

Cherry blossom fall

- famous Japanese haiku, Shirao Kaya

Japan's unofficial national flower is sakura or cherry blossom, and the annual appearance of the blossom in late March or early April is front page news. When the trees turn pink, the Japanese grab picnic blankets and rush to the parks to take photos, drink sake and relax, a custom known as hanami (literally "seeing flowers").

The fleeting nature of sakura (the blossoms are at their peak for around a week) strikes a deep chord in the Japanese psyche. In the days of the samurai, sakura represented the short life of a warrior often cut off in its prime. In today's Japan, sakura serves as a reminder of the power of nature, the changing of the seasons and that life may be all too short.

It's easy for visitors to take part in hanami which takes place across Japan. Famous spots include Ueno Park in Tokyo and Kyoto's Maruyama Koen, although you'll need to arrive early in the morning to find room to sit! Grab a bento box from a nearby convenience store, enjoy a picnic with a backdrop of sakura trees and you'll soon make friends with the Japanese people around you.

For more information on where and when to catch the best of the cherry blossom, visit our infographic HERE

When to go:

The cherry blossom opens as a wave, blooming as early as February in Okinawa then slowly climbing north, usually peaking in Tokyo and Kyoto in early April and reaching Hokkaido by late May.

Cherry blossom

Available throughout Japan

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