Although no one can predict exactly when, every spring thousands of Tokyo inhabitants will flock to their public parks to enjoy “hanami”, the viewing of the cherry blossoms. The most popular of the city’s Cherry Blossom Festivals is at Ueno Park.
The Park’s main street is lined with over eight hundred cherry trees, the glowing blossoms of which are illuminated each evening by the light of fifteen hundred lanterns. Several hundred thousand daily visitors enjoy the blooms, which lend an aura of the palest pink to the park’s many other attractions.
History of the Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival has its roots in the ninth century, when Japanese nobility had the first formal flower viewing at the Shinsen-en garden in Kyoto. Today Cherry Blossom Festivals unfold in stages as warm weather begins to spread over Japan from south to north and from the lowlands to the mountains. The Japanese listen intently to the reports from the Meteorological Agency as the cherry blossoms begin opening in Okinawa each January. When the blooming season arrives in Tokyo, usually in late March or early April, it is a signal for two weeks of celebration.
Families, friends, and even groups of workers in every part of Tokyo will head for the blossom-shrouded public spaces, spread out their picnic blankets, and enjoy the return of spring beneath the gently falling blossoms, which symbolize for them the fleetingness of life. By day’s end there is no way to tell where one group ends and another begins, and the sense of community is special indeed.
For those who would prefer to enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the blossoms in more contemplative surroundings, the Meguro River Cherry Blossom Festival, only six miles to the west of Tokyo Station, offers an evening stroll beneath the lantern-lit trees at the river’s edge.
Where to Stay during a Visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival
Located in Tokyo’s central Taitoku district, the four-star Hotel Sunroute Asakusa Tokyo is a modern facility within two kilometres of Ueno Park.