Japan’s cherry blossoms (Sakura) are absolutely beautiful! Cherry blossom season varies considering which part of Japan you live in but it typically begins around the end of April and can last until the end of May. The cherry blossom season is relatively short. Full bloom (mankai) is usually reached within about one week after the opening of the first blossoms (kaika). Another week later, the blooming peak is over and the blossoms are falling from the trees. Strong wind and rain can cut the blooming season even shorter.
Hanami literally means “flower viewing”, however, it commonly refers only to cherry blossom viewing. Cherry blossom viewing traditionally also involves a picnic party under the blooming trees, not just a stroll in the park. Hanami parties have been held in Japan for many centuries, and today are held in public and private gardens and parks across the country. Famous cherry blossom spots can get very crowded, and the best picnic spots are fought after. Especially in popular places, it is common practice to reserve a picnic spot long before the party is held. The typical practice is to spread one’s picnic sheet early in the morning and either mark it with the group’s name and party’s starting time or to have somebody positioned there during the whole day until the rest of the group arrives after work.
This cherry blossom season just about wraps up our first year of living in Japan. There are numerous places to go around Sasebo and in the Kyushu region to go flower viewing. However, as we will be here for quite some time still, for this first year, I stayed close to home. I visited a nearby park (Nimitz Park) to view these gorgeous flowers and to watch people gather under the trees for their hanami parties. I was able to take some amazing pictures and cannot wait to see what year two and three will bring!
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!