|Golden Hour on the sakura in Yoyogi Park|
It is officially spring in Tokyo! The cherry blossoms ("sakura" in Japanese) have been in bloom for about a week, and everyone in the city is taking the time to see the blossoms and celebrate the arrival of longer days and warmer weather.
We have cherry blossoms in Canada, but "hanami," or blossom-viewing, is new to me. Hanami is best celebrated with a group of friends and/or family on a big blue tarp laid out under a sakura tree, with lots of food and drinks. Last weekend Clem and I went to a hanami picnic with some friends in Yoyogi Park, which was packed! The first person from our group arrived mid-morning, and already the spots under the fullest trees were taken. Apparently it's not unusual for people to camp out overnight, and there are even some companies that will stake out a prime sakura-viewing location and hold it for you (for a large fee). We had a very relaxing afternoon catching up with friends, meeting new people, and drinking beer from sakura-themed cans.
Yesterday, Clem and I had another go at hanami, this time along the canals running through our neighbourhood. The sakura trees drape over the water from a narrow path along the banks, so there is no room for people to lay out on tarps. Instead, the area was pretty quiet - only a few small groups of people were walking along the paths, occasionally stopping to take some photos. I was one of those people, and Clem kept exclaiming, "they all look the same!" but I paid him no mind and kept snapping away.
Some other popular places for hanami in Tokyo are Ueno Park and in Nakameguro, but since sakura trees are planted all over the city there is no shortage of blossoms available for Instagrams.