Cherry blossom season in Japan begins each year in early spring, lasting until around Golden Week in May. During that time, swaths of pink and white sakura blossoms burst into full bloom starting from the Kyushu area in the southwest and moving in a northerly direction. During this season hanami, or cherry blossom viewing parties, are common in Japan. Sakura viewing first began during the Heian period, the historical peak of the Japanese nobility and a period in which culture and the arts flourished in Japan. The Heian emperor would host extravagant feasts beneath the cherry blossoms at the imperial palace in Kyoto, which set the tradition for hanami picnics. Today, hanami parties can take place either during the daytime or at night among family, friends, and coworkers.
Steeped in rich history, delicious cuisine, and incredible views of the flowering cherry blossoms, West Japan is also a region that features around two dozen historic castles, many of which are surrounded by picturesque sakura-filled gardens that are perfect for a day of leisurely relaxation. Furthermore, these famous attractions, when paired with the beautiful weather of March and April, can make for an amazing springtime sojourn from the city din of Tokyo and Osaka. If you would like to include hanami, history, and haute cuisine on your itinerary, then be sure to visit these five West Japan restaurants—each offering seating with lush views of sakura as well as nearby proximities to popular castles and sakura groves.
Japan has plenty to offer for the discerning diner. With the changing seasons comes a range of tantalizing tastes, each offering a truly elevated epicurean experience. Spring weather brings delicately flavored vegetables and edible buds and shoots; and warmer ocean currents draw fresh seafood closer to the coast. Read on to discover more about this special time of year, imbued with fleeting sensations so beloved that the Japanese people actually dub them, “the taste of spring.” Here are just a few of the essential Japanese ingredients that are at their best in springtime.
For a few weeks every spring, Tokyo becomes awash in shades of pink and white as the sakura trees come into bloom. Because Japanese cherry blossoms appear for only a short window each year, it’s easy to blink and miss them—a fleeting reminder of the beautiful but transient nature of life. What better way to enjoy hanami, or sakura viewing, and reflect upon the season than with fine food, drink, and company at one of Tokyo’s many excellent eateries? Here are four must-visit restaurants in Tokyo with an unforgettable view of the cherry blossoms.