Japan is perhaps most romantically represented shrouded in a cloud of pink cherry blossoms.
This year, the peak of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season was Friday. I adore hanami, and try to visit new spots each year. There are several types of cherry blossoms, but the most popular is the Somei Yoshino variety (which is actually a relatively young species) which gives simple, five-petal flowers of an fragile alabaster color. Their popularity lies in their ephemerality, and the beauty of the rain of petals that falls when the wind blows (get a petal in your cup and that's good luck).
I found out, coming here, that hanami is not quite what one has in mind.
As was written on a publication in Japan,
"Spring has sprung. And in Japan, that means it is time again to contemplate mono no aware, the ephemeral and slightly melancholy nature of being alive. Apparently, this is best achieved through the age-old tradition of sitting on blue polytarps, passing around child-sized bottles of sake (by which I mean the size of a human child, not a size fit for one), and generally making as much of an ass of yourself as possible in a crowded public park."Tokyo is a crowded city. And hanami is no different. People start setting up tarps as early as 6-7am to "reserve" a spot for parties that could start as late as 6pm, so don't count on just showing up and finding a spot (although, you could be very lucky).
(pictured above), other places to visit Yoyogi Park, Sumida Park and Askayama Park (pictured below).
(Chidorigafuchi)Other places of note that I have not visited yet are: Inokashira Park, Koshikawa Park and Aoyama Cemetery.
(left: Gokokuji, right: nakameguro)
[Shinjuku gyoen - Washington DC - Naka Meguro]
The day time is my favorite time to enjoy the cherry blossoms, but in the evenings, many trees are illuminated (please check your chosen park's opening hours beforehand). Just be warned that the later you go, the more inebriated other parties may be!