Cherry blossoms are beautiful and ephemeral flowers; the blooms don't last more than two weeks; they have become the symbol of the impermanence of beauty in Japan. Cherry blossoms are featured in artwork that depict the Japanese concept of "mono no aware", or the realization that "nothing lasts forever" in this world. It sounds very Buddhist where they believe that life always changes, nothing remains the same, so don't be attached to people or things. Below is the 2019 cherry blossom forecast in Japan. The cherry blossom will start to bloom from the south, at the end of March, in Kyushu and will bloom northward until early May in Hokkaido. We were a week early for the cherry blossom peak bloom in Tokyo but we still saw a few trees bloom early.
In Tokyo, we saw cherry blossoms in Ueno Park, Chidorigafuchi lake boating, Yoyogi Park, and the Meguro River at night. We also did a day trip to see the snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs at Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano. It took about 30 minutes hiking in mud surrounded by tall trees or 1 mile to get to the snow monkey hot springs, it's well worth the hike as you will be fascinated watching these snow monkeys play in the wild. My favorite part was watching the baby monkeys frolic and play and seeing the strong bond between the mother and their babies. We also visited the Zenkogi temple in Nagano where it is lit up magestically at night. We then headed to the Fuji 5 Lakes area to see the Chureito Pagoda overlooking Mt. Fuji. However it was snowing and cloudy that day so we didn't see Mt Fuji and we saw only one cherry blossom tree that has bloomed there as it was still to early for peak bloom. The next day was clear luckily so we got great views of Mt. Fuji. We enjoyed a relaxing onsen at our hotel Fuji Tatsugaoka near Mt. Fuji, in this area you can find many hotels with private outdoor onsens overlooking Mt. Fuji. Onsens are super relaxing for your body and sore feet after a long day of walking and hiking. In Japan you have to go into onsens naked and can't have any tattoos, men and women are separated. We beared the crowds at the Kinkakuji temple golden pavilion in Kyoto, which was so beautiful and the gold leaf literally glows when the sun hits it. The Hirano shrine in Kyoto had beautiful cherry blossom trees that we photographed at dusk. We walked around the magestic Arashiyama bamboo forest, they had the largest and tallest bamboos I've ever seen. On the same day, we hiked up the 3.1 mile Fushimi Inari path to the very top of the mountain and passed 10,000 orange tori gates. There were drink vending machines, restrooms, gift shops and icecream along the way up so you can stop and rest enjoying views of Kyoto. Along the path you will pass many fox shrines and tombstones. At night we visited the Gion District which was full of restaurants and it is also a red light district. It is the ancient city where the geishas performed but today you see tons of tourists dressed up in kimonos walking all over Kyoto posing for pictures. I enjoyed talking a stroll by the Gion Shirakawa river as you can see many cherry blossoms illumimated at night there. The next day we visited the Osaka castle, and saw a few cherry blossom trees in bloom, they usually reach peak bloom in the first week of April. I recommend visiting the Expo Commemorative Park in Osaka as they have many paths with cherry blossom trees. At night, we grabbed takoyaki and dumplings street food at Osaka Dotonbori street that is like a nightmarket with lots of stores and people. It's cool to see all the bright lights lit up at night and the running man sign.
Below are pictures of all my cherry blossom watercolor and acrylic paintings that I have created that were inspired by the Japanese cherry blossom trees! You can now buy the originals or poster prints in my Kblossoms store here: www.kblossoms.etsy.com! I created some sterling silver cherry blossom necklaces with Swarovski crystals that were inspired by my Japan trip. The gold cherry blossom stud earrings are made by MXMJewelry in Berkeley!
The best way to travel around Japan is to get the Japan Rail pass in your home country before arriving and exchanging your voucher at one of the main JR stations. The Japan Rail saved us money for long trips outside of Tokyo. Within Tokyo we took various Tokyo metro trains and paid for them as we went. Use Google maps as it will guide you which trains and times to get around Tokyo. We ended up walking about 5 miles a day all around Japan which was great exercise and allowed us to eat all the good Japanese food and snacks we liked. We loved eating the yakitori, sushi and ramen as they tasted so delicious and home made. I also loved eating the freshest juiciest huge strawberries, grapes, and melons as they are organic and grown with the best quality soil and techniques. My favorite fruit in Japan are their huge juicy sweet strawberries; we ate them everyday as a snack to load up on Vitamin C, folic acid, and antioxidants. They are better than candy and way more nutritious. I love the natural beauty of Japan that I want to come back for fall foliage one day. Thanks for reading!