The Best Of The Blossom

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NATURE: The Best of the Blossom

Each year from the end of March to early May in Japan, countless cherry trees from Okinawa to Sapporo burst into bloom – celebrating the arrival of spring with swathes of powder pink blossom. With the sakura comes the tradition of hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, where friends and family gather to appreciate the transient beauty of nature.

Those with an eye on the forecast can time their trip to catch the blossom as it creeps its way north. And whether you meet the cherry blossom front [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_blossom_front] in Tokyo or Osaka, here are five urban hotspots for inner-city sakura appreciation.

1. Tokyo: Shinjuku Gyoen

Arguably, one of the best blossom viewing spots in Japan. We’d recommend to reach the vicinity in early April and be sure not to miss the peaceful parklands of Shinjuku Gyoen. Close to 60 hectares of national garden houses over 1000 cherry trees of more than a dozen varieties, making this one of the country’s prime locations for appreciating the beautiful blooms.

2. Kyoto: The Philosopher’s Path

Connecting the temples of Ginkakuji and Nanzenji along a peaceful canal, Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Path is lined with cherry trees, forming a pretty pink canopy to wander beneath during sakura season. It’s the perfect spot for a meditative stroll -but as everyone else is likely to agree, we’d recommend getting there early, before the crowds descend.

3. Osaka: Kema Sakuranomiya Park

Almost 5000 cherry trees line Okawa River, creating a seamlessly endless pink promenade during cherry blossom season and making Osaka’s waterside the top spot for hanami picnickers. Located on the river terrace between Kema Araizeki and Temmabashi Bridge, Sakuranomiya Park is a particularly beautiful stretch, and if you’re after a fresh perspective, hop in a boat for a gentle river cruise.

4. Hiroshima: Hiroshima Peace Park

Located in central Hiroshima, Hiroshima Peace Park is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims. Close to 300 cherry trees are planted around the park and particularly along the river, making this the city’s most beautiful spot to appreciate the season.

5. Fukuoka: Fukuoka Castle (Maizuru Park)

Visit Fukuoka during early spring and you’ll be amongst the first to catch the blossom, as it hits Japan’s warm southern shores. With over a thousand cherry trees planted amongst the ruins of Fukuoka Castle, Maizuru Park is the city’s number one spot for cherry blossom viewing. Plenty of green space makes it the perfect place for a picnic, and the Sakura Matsuri in late March makes the best of the blossom with dramatic lighting during the evenings.

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