PHOTO: A stroll through Japan's cherry blossoms is more complicated than you think. (Photo via Flickr/Yiannis Theologos Michellis)
While the cherry blossom season is an extremely popular time to visit Japan, there are some things to be aware of when it comes to all of the hype, notes Tim Pile in an article for South China Morning Post.
On the good side, this is truly a wondrous celebration that continues for months as the anticipation builds over forecasts and “fronts” sure to bring weather for the bloom.
“The centuries-old tradition of hanami is almost upon us although, to be strictly accurate, the cherry-blossom-viewing season began a couple of months ago. Ueno Park, in Tokyo, might be the epicenter for media interest and petal-based parties, but trees in the southern prefecture of Okinawa flowered and fell back in mid-January,” says Pile.
The season is punctuated by excitement at both the beginning and the end of the bloom.
“Nothing lasts forever and for the Japanese, the only thing more enchanting than wandering among trees in full bloom is hanafubuki, or “flower snow storm”, when falling petals become a blizzard of pink snowflakes. Catch one and good fortune is assured, so the saying goes,” writes Pile.
However, with all the hype comes inevitable criticism and planning to arrive on a cherry blossom trip is no easy task.
“It’s tricky enough predicting when the blossoms will peak, let alone working out when they’ll fall,” says Pile.
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Other concerns are allergies and the breaching of etiquette rules.
“Despite the presence of multilingual signs, acts of vandalism included climbing, shaking and kicking fragile and elderly trees, as well as breaking off flowers for hair decorations,” Pile says.
Is it still worth it? Yes. The trees are gorgeous but read on here for more advice and details on planning.