Today I overheard some tourists on the subway talking about returning to Japan later in the year to see the cherry blossoms, and it got me thinking... what am I going to do this year for cherry blossom season...?
We're still in the middle of winter here in Kyoto, but it's never too early to start thinking about sakura - the famous cherry blossom trees that cover Japan in early spring. Many visitors plan an entire vacation around these little pink flowers, and it's easy to understand why once you finally experience them first hand.
(That's not my video, but I think it does a great job capturing the beauty of the cherry blossoms and the sakura season.)
These delicate flowers start opening in late March, and come to full bloom around the end of the first week of April. Plotting the spread of the flowers as they bloom throughout the country is a nation event, with nightly updates on the evening news and intricately detailed reports of city by city estimates for the peak of the season.
Here's last year's map that showed the dates for the start of the season by region:
So how can KyoTours Japan make your Kyoto sakura experience a special one? Here are some ways we'll be getting into the cherry blossom spirit in late March and Early April...
- Experience the full impact of cherry blossom season with KyoTours as we take you to some of Kyoto's best sakura spots. Visit a thick grove of cherry blossom trees in a small shrine famous among locals as the best spot in town to see the pink flowers. Stroll along a peaceful canal lined with willows and sakura. Contemplate a zen rock garden with a solitary bright pink sakura tree that reminds us to appreciate the simple beauty in nature, even if it comes in small doses.
- Sample some treats made especially for spring season. Various sweets, cakes, and teas featuring pink colors and sakura flavor are popular at this time of year, and we can take you to shops that specialize in these seasonal delights. Try them for yourself, and then take some back home as souvenirs! Yes... even Starbucks gets in on the sakura action!
- Just as the seasons change in Kyoto, so does the merchandise in the shops. Many visitors say spring is the best time to find interesting and unique objects for sale. From kimonos and bags to everyday household items, shops are bursting with sakura-themed products at this time of year. My personal favorite are tenegui, long strips of cloth hand printed with various designs from landscapes to traditional art. Tenegui can be used as scarves, bandanas, wrapping cloth, or simply as framed decorations. Kyoto's designer Tenegui have experienced a boom in popularity in the past few years and make a perfect spring souvenir!
During the sakura season, KyoTours will be working some great sakura spots into all of our tour itineraries whenever possible. There are still tour openings in the schedule for the season, so check out our tours and find one that you think would work well with some cherry blossoms!
A few more things to remember for sakura season: Don't assume that it will be warm just because spring has sprung. Days are still chilly when the flowers are blooming, and nights are often cold. A light jacket is suggested when going out to see the sakura. And with all the flowers blooming comes allergies from other weeds, grasses, and trees that are starting to enjoy the spring sun. If you suffer from seasonal allergies in your home country, you should assume that you'll be suffering just as bad - if not worse - in Japan. Be very careful about what medications you bring with you, as medicine containing pseudoephedrine is illegal here, whichmeans many foreign allergy and cold medicines are not allowed. But don't worry, over the counter forms of Allegra and Claritin can be purchased easily in Japan. We're happy to help you find some allergy medicine while on your tour (in fact, we'll probably be buying some as well).
See you in Kyoto this spring!