Sakura – the cherry tree blossoming – can be now observed nowadays in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China, West Siberia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Canada, the United States, even in your next door park. But why the sakura and hanami are so special in Japan?
Centuries ago Japanese started admiring the ume (plums and apricots) blossoms; later the cherry blossoms came to attract more attention. In “The Last Samurai”, Katsumoto spent his whole life looking for the perfect sakura.
The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one and it would not be a wasted life.Katsumoto
This, of course, is an option when you have lot’s of time.
Here is where and when we observed the sakura without the ambition to find the perfect blossom and enjoyed the hanami (picnic under the blossoming trees).
Simple question – simple answer – Japan. Being a tradition for so many generations every city, town and village in Japan has cherry trees planted for the perfect sakura. You will most probably go to Tokyo and/or Kyoto. Tokyo is a little bit north of Kyoto, thus the sakura peak is reached a week later than Kyoto.
This is more tricky… Sakura peak is observed in last week of March or first week of April in most places in Japan. Further north the full bloom happens even in May. We’ve been just 8 days during the last week of March in Japan and visited Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto and Nara. And we’ve been lucky – sakura in Tokyo was weak; no sakura in Takayama; Nara was OK, and full bloom in Kyoto.
Did we find the perfect blossom?
Katsumoto eventually saw the perfect sakura. It was only at his dying, as he looked up at the cherry blossoms above him that he said:
Perfect. They are all perfect.
No matter when and where, the sakura is perfect! It is not just the blossoms and the picnic; it is a tradition, an experience, a quest, sometimes an adventure and luck. Thus, go to Japan and hopefully at the right time and place, open all your senses (especially your mind) and breath in and out! Just enjoy 🙂