|Photo by Freeimages.com/Lars Jensen|
by The Daily Telegraph, March 17, 2016
Where to see cherry blossoms around the world.
Japan's cherry blossom season is almost upon us. While the first pink blooms arrived in the southern islands of Okinawa in late January, next week should see them come to Tokyo, and other major cities, according to tourism authorities .
Here we explain where best to view cherry blossom in Japan - for full advice on witnessing the spectacle there, see Danielle Demetriou's expert guide - and in locations closer to home...
"The capital is a good starting point," says Danielle Demetriou. "It may be famed for its concrete and skyscrapers but also excels at maximising its hanami nature spots. There are numerous picnic-friendly locations – in parks and alongside rivers – that have been planted with carefully choreographed clusters of cherry trees in recent centuries, to dramatic effect."
The practice of picnicking under a blossom tree is known as "hanami" and is thought to have started in the 8th century.
The cloud-like nature of the blossoms is thought to remind the Japanese of the ephemeral nature of life.
"Highlights include Ueno Park, one of Japan’s oldest and most famous public spaces (also home to a string of top museums, shrines and ponds), which attracts epic-sized crowds to admire its 1,000-plus blooming cherry blossoms," says Danielle Demetriou. "A more sedate alternative is Shinjuku Gyoen, a surprisingly serene and beautifully maintained park a short walk from the neon blare of Shinjuku, with 1,500 cherry trees and expanses of lawn."
The southern city of Osaka, Japan's third largest, is another good place to view the trees. Sakuranomiya is a riverside park with walking trails through the blossom.
"The famed ancient capital of Japan provides a perfectly dreamy backdrop for cherry blossom appreciation – albeit alongside the biggest crowds of the year. The best flower spots include Maruyama Park, packed with hanami picnickers from day to night; the Kamo River, lined with large cherry trees; and the bloom-filled Imperial Palace Park."
"A more peaceful option is perhaps a late-night stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, which runs prettily alongside a cherry tree-lined canal, leading to a string of hidden temples and shrines. For a more luxurious – and more secluded – taste of Kyoto’s cherry blossoms, consider checking into Hoshinoya Kyoto ( hoshinoyakyoto.jp/en ), an exclusive riverside retreat which effortlessly fuses traditional aesthetics with contemporary Japanese design, complete with cherry trees in its grounds."
Himeji Castle, Japan
Sat on a hilltop above Himeji, this castle dates back to 1333 and is the largest and most visited in Japan. It is especially popular during the cherry blossom season.
For more places tips on where to watch the spectacle in Japan, see our full guide.
Washington DC, USA
Washington DC has been celebrating the cherry blossom since the trees were given as a gift to the city in 1912 from Tokyo's Mayor Ozaki.
This year the blooms are expected to peak from March 23. The 2016 National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 20 - April 17.
The trees surround the Jefferson Memorial and line the Tidal Basin, which makes a pretty spot for a stroll. The cherry blossom festival was suspended during the Second World War, during which the trees in Washington were referred to as "Oriental" flowering trees.
Elsewhere in North America, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York and Vancouver, home to more than 37,000 cherry trees, are other good bets.
The colours of the cherry blossom are also enjoyed in Stockholm, where one of the city's most central parks, the Kungsträdgården, has its own festival.
The name of the park means King's Garden and the trees herald the arrival of spring in Sweden.
In China, the blossoms can be viewed at Gucun Park, where there are hundreds of trees covering more than 13 hectares.
Seoul, South Korea
In Seoul, the Youido blossom festival brings walkers and their cameras to parkland near the city's national assembly building.
The trees were planted in Bonn in the 1980s and can be enjoyed by visitors to the city today.
Hamburg's Alster Lake is another great spot for viewings.
The French capital is dotted with the blossoming trees too. For more on visiting the city, see our expert guide .
Kew Gardens, London
And the budget option? Anyone wanting to see cherry blossom in the UK should head to Kew Gardens in Surrey . A collection of Japanese cherries was initially planted between the Palm House and King William’s Temple in 1909. The walk was then extended to the Temperate House in 1935.
This article was from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.