7 Hacks on How to Navigate Through the Sakura Season in Japan
Spring is coming! And one of the most exciting events that gets Singaporeans packing their bags and being up in the air is the beautiful blooms of Sakura Blossoms all around Japan. Be it your first or repeated visits, being well-prepared and knowing what to expect are the keys to having an enjoyable experience in this busy yet beautiful season. So here, we have 7 tips and hacks we had amassed from our experiences on how you can easily navigate the Sakura Season.
1. Always check the cherry blossoms forecast
One website which we find highly reliable is: Sakura Zensen (Cherry Blossoms Front). It is one of the most reliable sakura blossoms forecasts which shows trends of past years and the peak blooms for 2019. If you can read Japanese, then we will recommend you head to the national weather forecast website to get an accurate day by day forecast of the blooms.
2. Go as early as possible to avoid the crowds
One of the locals' favourite traditions and activities to do during the Sakura seasons is to have a picnic under the flowering trees. The locals call it Hanami (flowers sighting) picnic. It is best to go as early as 5am to ‘chope’ a space with your picnic mat. If you had overslept and decide to saunter in mid afternoon, be prepared to not find a space and postpone your plans. The good news is that the Japanese are known to be very orderly so you don’t have to worry about your space being snatched or your personal space being infringed upon when you are there bright and early!
For your information, the parks which are the most crowded during this season are Yoyogi Park / Ueno Park / Imperial Palace Park. If you are looking for somewhere quieter to enjoy the beauty without too much interruption, we read online that the Yanaka Cemetery, which is a 10 minutes walk away from Ueno Park, offers a serene beauty with the rows of Sakura trees lined up at the side. For those who are in the Kansai region, head to Mount Yoshino for a Sakura high :)
3. Be well-prepared and pack well
For first timers going for a hanami party, here’s a list of essentials that you can consider packing in your travel backpack to ensure an amazing time:
- Food. Be it onigiris, sandwiches, bentos, or even a bottle of sake from the convenience stores and supermarkets, be sure that you have enough food and drinks to last you through the time you planned to be there.
- Paper plates, disposable chopsticks, cups: only applicable if you are planning to share your food instead of having them individually.
- Picnic Sheet: This is what you use to mark your territory with, and also to have a clean surface to sit on. Remember to pack this in your suitcase too if you are not planning to purchase one in Japan.
- Wet wipes and tissue papers: in case of accident spillage.
- Garbage bags: you can either bring a real proper garbage bags or use the plastic bags that come along with the food you bought. It is a an etiquette, a responsible one, to clean up after yourself when you are done. The recycling culture in Japan is strong so remember to sort your trash into cans, bottles, burnable garbage, and non-burnable garbage, then bring it to the designated garbage areas.
- Rain Coat: in events of wet weather which might happen during Spring.
For a good backpack that packs well and can hold all your picnic stuff, we recommend that you bring along our AGVA weather resistant Traveller Daypack for your trip. It holds all your packed food and drinks well and you can access them easily during the picnic with it's clamshell opening. You can also keep your disposable cutlery and garbage bags in the outer lower zippered pocket of the backpack and wet wipes and tissues in the side elastic pockets.
4. Go to the toilet before the party or entering the garden
We know that sometimes when nature calls, you have to go. However if you could help it, we would recommend that you visit a toilet prior to stepping into the park so that you won’t have to wait to use the washrooms. Thankfully, the Japanese are clean and orderly, so the conditions of the bathrooms will be pristine. We read that someone had to wait 40 minutes to use the toilet, so this tip is seriously worth considering.
5. Be prepared for wet weather
Sakura blossoms represent renewal in the Japanese culture. They symbolise the arrival of spring, that also comes with occasional showers especially if it’s end of March. Be prepared for wet weather by having a rain coat and/ or umbrella in your travel bag at all times. Ensure that you are carrying a bag which is weather-resistant so that your items can be kept dry and clean.
You can also consider packing along your scarves, cardigans, and a lap blanket (for the hanami picnic) inside your travel bag or backpack to be well protected from the cold that comes with the rain.
6. Sakura blooms are not just on the trees
Whilst you are there, soak yourself completely in the Sakura festive and atmosphere. Go all out Sakura and don’t restrict it to just the Cherry Blossom trees. Taste the Sakura-flavoured ice cream and other desserts that are available abundantly this season. There are pop up stalls along the side of the parks selling Sakura-flavoured snacks which we highly recommend that you try! We heard there’s a Sakura Latte too which is yummy. There are also Sakura-related souvenirs, and Sakura-inspired fashion which are only available once a year during this season. So take this time to explore and discover new experiences in the Sakura season.
7. Don’t miss the special night illuminations
If you think that the beautiful pink cherry blossoms against the blue sky is already a beauty to behold, then you definitely should not miss the night illuminations that will take place at specific places across Japan. For those heading to Kyoto, head to the historical temples there around sunset. See the sky begins to turn from orange to blue and how beautiful the seas of cherry blossoms look against the magical waves of colours from dusk to night. There are also light illuminations at night along the Meguro River in Tokyo for a bedazzling visual feast.
Have an enjoyable and delightful trip to Japan during this beautiful transient season! Feel free to share with us your experiences and/ or any other tips that you feel might be useful for others reading the blog by leaving us a comment below! We would love to read all of them.