During the first few weeks of April Japan is covered with cherry blossoms. It first starts in the south and gradually works its way up north based on temperature. It is a national celebration and our tour group experienced it when we were in Tokyo.
If the weather is nice (and it was this weekend) millions of people pour out of their cramped apartments and houses and make their way to the parks, shrines and temples. They bring their food and their blue plastic tarps and have picnics under the cherry trees.
You will note that they take their shoes off before they step on the plastic tarp.
There is not enough room for everyone so the posted rules state that your group has to leave after an hour.
They bring plenty of food and have a party as the breeze blows the cherry blossom petals down on them.
There are huge masses of people moving around but very orderly. You will note that some people are wearing masks and our guide says that some people have hay fever caused by the pollen of the spring. Sometimes the women just don’t want to put on their makeup.
There are 3 main destination points for the movement of the people: The Sensoji Buddhist Temple, the Imperial Palace Gardens and the Tokyo National Museum.
The Sensoji Buddhist Temple
The Sensoji Temple is the oldest Buddhist Temple in Tokyo; it was built in the 9th century and rebuilt after WWII.
An incense burner is set up at the entry so the Buddhist worshippers can cover themselves with incense before they enter the temple.
There are many food vendors set up around the temple during the time of the cherry blossom festival.
The Imperial Palace Garden
The Japanese Emperor lives at the Imperial Palace which was built over 400 years ago and the garden is open to the public on a regular basis. He also has a private garden that is seldom open. The Emperor’s name is Arehito; he is stepping down and his son, Naruhito, is taking over over on April 30 of this year. Arehito is the 125th Emperor of Japan.
The Palace and gardens are located in the center of Tokyo and are surrounded by a huge rock wall and a large moat. The garden is about 2/3 the size of Central Park in New York.
There are also many large rock walls within the garden.
The garden is just now coming out of dormancy and here are a few views:
Azalea ‘Hino Crimson’
Bamboo ground cover
Camellia sasanqua hedge
Flowering Cherries and the Iris garden
Tokyo National Museum
We spent about 2 hours here looking at the beautiful displays of Japanese art and archeology.