Monique Engler says from the end of March to early May, sakura bloom all over Japan. The cherry blossoms come and go, but not without being noticed.
Everyone stops. The whole country drinks sake until they can’t walk, and stare at the blossoms until the last pale petal floats to the ground. Wandering into Yoyogi Koen, or in fact any park in Japan, you can’t help but be swept away with the merriment as thousands of people celebrate this annual occurrence.
People juggle and dance, throw frisbees and kick hacky sacks from foot to foot. The sound of drumming echoes amongst the leathery limbs of the cherry trees, willing the petals to farewell the branches. The ground is a patchwork of blankets and blue tarps, upon them sit tiny barbecues or picnic spreads. Little pairs of shoes sit neatly side by side.
Under a cherry tree people spin, twirl and stomp their feet as music dances about their limbs. The spectacular fairyland that twinkles at you between snow-like petals. A group of dancing rockabillies, greasy haired and leather clad, dance so hard they wear their shoes out; they mend them with gaffer tape and continue on.
The air is sweet with incense and aromas of the food stalls. Sizzling away are festival favourites; yakitori (chicken skewers), takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomoyaki (savoury pancakes). Always offered with a friendly smile. A river of sake flows, intoxicating the mass of cheerful revellers. One can’t help but smile at the new found understanding of why Japanese serve sake in such tiny little cups!
In most major cities including Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the cherry blossom season typically takes place between late March and to early April and later in cooler prefectures.
About the author: Monique Engler has visited 17 countries, 111 cities and counting. She has lived in Tokyo and been based in Mallorca in the last few years and is now living in Phnom Penh. Her insatiable travel bug ensures she continues to travel and she shares her experiences through words and photos in her blog.
If you want to experience this amazing country for yourself, why not take a look at our trips to Japan.