The start of spring is always an exciting time, but it is especially important in Japan where the season brings the world-famous cherry blossoms.
Cherry (or, sakura) trees are grown throughout Japan. They start to blossom in the warm, southern islands of the country, and as the season moves north, they peak in late March and early April. Because these scenic vistas and the associated celebration draws thousands of tourists each year, the Japanese National Tourism Agency maintains a map of the cherry blossom forecast to help you plan your trip.
We arrived in Japan the last week of February, so I thought we would miss this experience. But as it turned out, we were able to catch the beginning of the season!
Spring Colors in Japan
The first cherry blossoms that we spotted were in Atami, on the east coast of Japan’s main island about two hours by train from Tokyo. The seaside resort town is famous for its beaches and hot spring spas, though when we were there we got to experience it under a misty fog of early spring rain. There were a few varieties of cherry blossoms, including this peach-hued tree across from our hotel…
… and a few other shades in a nearby park. The pink bell-shaped variety shown here was my favorite!
Further south, the weather was nicer, but there still weren’t many trees in bloom. One exception was at Kitano-Tenman-gu, a large Shinto shrine on the outskirts of Kyoto. This shrine is lucky for education, so it is filled with students throughout the year wishing for good luck on their exams. But we visited the shrine for the flowers.
The founder of the shrine loved the bright pink blossoms of the flying plum tree, so he planted more than a hundred plum trees in various shades of pink and white.
The Japanese plum is one of the earliest trees to bloom in Japan so we caught them right at their peak.
I was glad to learn that even though we hadn’t planned our trip to Japan during “cherry blossom season,” we were able to witness some of this beauty for ourselves (and bonus — without the crowds!)
Spring Colors Around the World
Over the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed watching my friends online post images of spring that they’ve seen at home and on their travels. Here are some photos that I really loved:
Shinjuku National Garden, Tokyo – Karen Warren, Worldwide Writer. She shared this and other photos in the post: Springtime in Tokyo’s Shinjuku National Garden
Vancouver, British Colombia – Henry Lee, FotoEins Fotopress. He shares this photo in the post: The First Day of Spring in Vancouver
Nectarine blossoms in Sacramento, California – Jenna Francisco, This is My Happiness
Blossoms at sunset in the Dordogne region of France – Laurence Norah, Finding the Universe. “This shot was taken the other evening… as the sun was setting and the feel of spring was very much in the air.”
Springtime in London, England – Talon Windwalker, 1 Dad 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure
Klis, Croatia – Tricia A. Mitchell, Travels with Tricia “In the past weeks we’ve been in Croatia and Italy where spring has come early this year. The attached image was taken from the Klis Fortress above the village of Klis, Croatia. Blooming almond trees and olive groves are visible among the lush green fields.”
Munich, Germany – Eva Gold, Passports & Pamplemousse
Parque Quinta de los Molinos, Madrid, Spain – Kate, Viajamos Juntos
In New York City, a very urban take on spring colors! Blake Mandelberg, Style Island. She shares this photo and others in her post: Spring Fling, 5 Things to Summon in the Season
Our trip to Kyoto and Atami was supported by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Opinions and photos are my own.