The Cherry blossom (桜 Sakura) viewing season (花見 Hanami) has started here in Japan will all that it entails. First of all, you can be sure that the popular viewing spots are completely crowded for a week or so, so don’t even bother going there if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your viewing experience with tens of thousands of other people… No but seriously, this must be the most beautiful time of the year here in Japan, with the peak of Fall (with its multicolored leaves) being a close second. Temperatures are slowly but steadily rising in Tokyo (we have around 15-17 degrees daytime now) and it’s pretty darn nice to be outside. Personally I took a little stroll below the cherry blossoms at our local spot, a small street lined with Sakura trees. The usual stands selling everything from noodle to banana crepes were of course set up in a timely fashion, to make sure the local business gets the most out of this year’s Sakura season.
Speaking of big business. The business of predicting when the Sakura season starts is very serious. Last year, the Japan Meteorological Agency predicted that the cherry blossom viewing season would start four (4!) days earlier than it actually did. The outcry from the Japanese population equalled that of the criticism of the American government after last year’s tsunami Katrina. The Japanese take their cherry blossom viewing seriously!
Here is an article about a cherry blossom forecaster working for JMA. It’s an interesting read, and you will get an idea of just how important the timing of the blooming trees are here in Japan. In the article there is a reference to a site with real time cherry blossom information, and that you can find here: Weathernews Sakura 2006