The highly anticipated cherry blossom viewing season is finally upon us! In just the last week the weather has made a dramatic shift from cold and bitter winter to warm and sunny spring. Ushering in spring is my favorite part of living in Japan; cherry blossom viewing which is called ohanami in Japanese. Almost everywhere you look you can see beautiful white and pink sakura (cherry blossoms). Parks, streets, rivers, and temples are usually lined with sakura trees so for the short lived two weeks or so that they are blossoming everything looks even more gorgeous. But as much as I love the beauty of it all the real reason why I love this time of year is for the ohanami parties.
Most often held in parks, a ohanami party involves food, friends, drinks, nice weather, beautiful scenery and lots of fun. Everyone brings out a big blue tarp and lays it out on the grass underneath the cherry blossom trees with BBQ, snacks and drinks. Its totally acceptable to drink beer or anything else in the park and people often bring music and games as well. For the next couple of weeks I will be trying to enjoy the sakura and ohanami parties as much as possible and I will surely end up with hundreds of photos of the flowers and fun which I will post here for all to see!
My first opportunity came this past Saturday when I went with a friend to Maruyama Park in Kyoto City. It was a really warm day even though it was cloudy. The sakura were not in full bloom yet but there were still plenty of blossoms to see. Also just walking around Kawaramachi and Gion in Kyoto there were plenty of beautiful sites and photos to be taken everywhere you look.