The Hanami (花見) or Cherry Blossom season is upon us! This is probably everyone favorite time in Japan and specially in Kyoto.
Hanami (lit. “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. “Flower” in this case almost always means cherry blossoms (“sakura”). But actually, the blooming of flowers and therefore the “Season” starts with the Ume (梅 or plum), followed by the Momo (桃 or peach), and then come all the varieties of Sakura (桜 or cherry).
From the middle of March to early May, the sakura bloom all over Japan. This is an important national thing, with a dedicated blossom forecast (桜前線 sakura-zensen, literally “cherry blossom front”) being announced each year by the weather bureau, and watched carefully by a large part of the population for the planning of “Hanami” as the blossoms only last a week or two in any given spot.
This really is a great time to be around Kyoto as together with the sun, young girls come out everywhere dressed in kimono.
Hanami at night is called Yozakura (夜桜, literally “Night Sakura”) and in Kyoto a great spot to enjoy one is around the Maruyama Koen behind the Yasaka Shrine (at the end of Shijo street).