Sakura – What and Where?

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As the second week of March start, there is no doubt that everyone is secretly, but surely getting excited for the short lived beauty that Japan will become for a period of seven days. This beauty can be found in other parts of the world such as India, China, Korea, and even the United States. However, the week that I am talking about is unique only to Japan in the sense that no other country celebrates this phenomenon the extravagant way Japan does. In no other country, people of all corners of life go out with their families specifically to celebrate this 7 days period. I am, of course, talking about the cherry blossom week in Japan.The symbolism behind sakura (name of the cherry blossom in Japan) is portrayed extensively in all types of 3Japanese arts. There are an abundance of poems, dramas, movies, anime, paintings and music that associate with sakura. Why wouldn’t it? After all, sakura embodies the concept of 1how short life is, the mortality of every living being on Earth, and accepting one’s fate. In fact, you can find differing types of wrapping papers, gift cards, kimonos, dresses, food, beverages, deserts, and even weddings based on the sakura theme. Sakura is so important to the Japanese society that during World War II, it was used to promote nationalism among soldiers and today; it is the national flower of Japan.Hanami is the special word used to describe the centuries old tradition of just enjoying the sakura. Thus, we cannot talk about sakura without talking about the ideal locations to enjoy the hanami in Japan. Of course, it is possible to watch the sakura while driving, walking, or even riding the train. However, there are distinctive places where it has a more festive feeling. In Tokyo specifically, the 2Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Chidorigafuchi, Sumida Park, and Ueno Park are among the most popular destinations. If you are aiming to watch many varieties of sakura, then Shinjuku Gyoen is the place to go. On the other hand, if you want to have a picnic, then Sumida and Ueno parks always attract thousands of people every day and are usually crowded during the season. A popular destination among the couples is the Chidorigafuchi-ryokudo Walkway. There are boat rides available to everyone and you can slowly paddle your way around the Ed-era moat and enjoy some 250 sakura sakura trees. If the line becomes too long for 5you, there is always the 700m long walk along the moat. In order to make this season more festive, traditional festivals are set up for everyone to dive into the Japanese traditional food. At night this whole atmosphere becomes even more beautiful as all the sakura trees are lit up. Lastly and my personal favorite, is the Meguro River. It is less crowded than any of the locations mentioned so far, yet it captures the essentials of the cherry blossom season on a pathway along the Meguro River.Although the usual first and peak bloom of the season is late 4March to the first week of Japan, there are exceptions in Sapporo, Aomori, and Sendai prefectures. Nevertheless, sakura is one of the most elegant traditions of Japan and should not be missed by anyone.

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