Sakura – what does it mean?
We’ve considered visiting Japan, for a while. We knew that we want to go in the spring time when all the flowers are blooming. After all, Japan is known in Poland as the “Country of the Blooming Cherry”. We had to find out if that nickname matches the reality.
Sakura is a japanesse term for cherry flowers. Time of the year when cherry trees are covered in countless, white or pink flowers has cultural significance.
When to go to Japan?
In the warmer, southern regions of Japan, spring starts earlier. Even in the first half of March, you can find first flowers, while in the far north Hokkaido, sakura comes in the beginning of May. Thanks to that, we do have some flexibility. You can visit Japan any time from March to May and with a little bit of effort, you will find blooming cherries. In the news and on the websites, you can check out when currently the Sakura is at its best. We used japan-guide.com to make the most out of our time. The other very popular time of the year is the autumn/fall – a popular “Red Leaf season”.
Once, on a hot afternoon on our station in the heart of Australian outback we were checking the current air tickets sales and there it was: Japan in early April – perfect. We immiediately booked our flights from Cairns to Tokyo.
Trains in Japan
14 days in this magical country is not much. We wanted to see and explore as much as possible, so we planned a very intensive sightseeing. We bought JR-Pass. It is a periodic train ticket that you can use to travel all around Japan. What is important, it is only available for foreigners and you need to have one before you get on the plane. Therefore, better to plan ahead. With this pass, you can use most of the trains, some buses and ferries and the bullettrains – shinkansen. This is the fastest way to travel around.
Transportation in Japan is in general very expensive, but if you are planning to visit at least 2 other cities than the one you arrived to, it is worth it. We used it every day of our 2-week trip. We visited Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagano, Miyajima Island, castles of Himeji and Matsumoto and Faw Lakes District on the foothills of Mt Fuji. In Hiroshima the blossom was almost over but in Nagano it bearly started. You can plan you trip to witness spring in its prime, everywhere you go to.
Hanami is an old tradition of greeting the spring, also known as the festival of cherry bloosom. It is meant as a time to appreciate the temporal beauty of the nature. People gather under the cherry trees and enjoy food, music, karaoke and each others comapny. In big cities, the best spots in the parks are reserved early in the morning. Often people, especially in Kyoto, wear traditional clothing – kimono. Will you join the celebration?