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The Beautiful Sakura Trees of Shinjuku Gyoen
Visiting the Gardens during Sakura Season
Shinjuku Gyoen is a massive garden in the heart of Tokyo located in the Shinjuku area. If you've seen the movie Lost in Translation, you'll know what Shinjuku looks like. Shinjuku is that part of Tokyo you see with endless neon signs, thousands of bars and restaurants that compete for your business, as well as the busiest train station in the world. It's probably the busiest city within the Tokyo metropolitan area and has everything you could wish for.
And even in this most chaotic part of the city, peace, serenity and natural beauty can be found if only you know where to look. Shinjuku Gyoen, which used to be the residence of a feudal lord during the Edo Period, has been open to the public since 1949 for everyone to enjoy.
As with every year, my friend and I decided to have an impromptu picnic at my favorite park and although it was slightly overcast, at least it wasn't raining. The park is massive and it's easy to spend an entire day here on a nice day. This is exactly what many people do and it's especially true during the cherry blossom season. Shinjuku Gyoen is home to more than a dozen varieties of cherry trees, with more than 400 Somei Yoshino trees that blossom between late March to early April. And if you arrive a week too late, don't worry as you can still enjoy some of the late blooming variety of the sakura trees that last until late April.
*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
A Touch of Elegance to Your Home
A truly beautiful specimen symbolizing the beauty of Japan. Perfect for those seeking elegance and tranquility, the pastel colored petals bring a sense of peace to any household.
An Oasis in the Urban Jungle
Although there are numerous parks around the city, Shinjuku Gyoen is probably the one I visit the most. Not only is it convenient for me to get to, the park has an atmosphere of calm and peace with lots of space to yourself, which is a rarity in Tokyo.
In preparation for our impromptu picnic, my friend and I dropped by the expansive Food Hall of the Isetan Department Store to pick up lunch. After browsing the mind-boggling selections on display, we opted for simple sandwiches from one of the Indian-food vendors.
Once we got into the park, it was more crowded than usual but that was to be expected. Cherry blossom season is the most crowded the park ever gets but even then, the park is big enough to accommodate everyone, including the large number of tourists that visit during this time of the year.
Shinjuku Gyoen Visit
Have you ever visited the Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens in Tokyo?
Stroll Through the Sakura Fields
Cherry Blossoms Dinnerware Set
Square design with slight coupe shaping and artistically placed cherry blossom motif. Beautiful, durable and elegant dinnerware set that brings a touch of elegance and serenity to your home.
Flower Viewing or Hanami
Hanami or "flower viewing" is the Japanese tradition of enjoying the transient beauty of the flowers. Almost always, the "flowers" mean cherry blossoms and hanami is a major event that the majority of Japanese look forward to every year.
As the blossoms last only a week or two at most, careful planning is crucial, starting with knowing exactly when the blossoms would be in full bloom. This is easily done by tuning into the local weather forecast on TV as well as the internet. In modern times, hanami is more like an outdoor party than an actual flower viewing where people bring various food and snacks, pot-luck style. Finally, for most people, hanami is never complete without free-flowing beer, wine and other alcoholic concoctions.
This year, instead of the large inebriating parties that last the entire day, where no one actually views the cherry blossoms ( or any blossoms for that matter ), I decided to stay sober, low-key and zen.
Picnicking Under the Sakura TreesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Enjoy the Essence of Sakura at Home
Sakura tea is not only soothing, the subtle aromas of cherry and earthy green tea makes this perfect for a relaxing afternoon drink. This tea is basically green tea with cherry blossoms and its leaves but it's one of become of my favorite teas to drink.
With Spring Comes Beauty
In Japan, the cherry blossom signifies new beginnings and although most would say that Hanami is all about eating, drinking and getting drunk ( i.e. my friends ), for me it means something else. The sakura blossoms tell me that my favorite season has finally arrived and it's a friendly reminder to leave the past behind ( along with my heavy winter jackets ) and embrace the present, as well as the future.
I am happiest in spring as there is so much beauty that can be seen all around. The beautiful and near-perfect days combined with the vivid colors of nature, trees and flowers that have woken up from their long winter slumber, makes me want to stay outdoors forever.
Other Articles You Might Enjoy
I love exploring my city so I've written about quite a few of the places I found particularly interesting. Here are just a few.
- A trip to Ome-a great side trip from Tokyo
- Nogata-The place where I call home
- Three Days in Hiroshima
You might also enjoy my food and travel blog TabiEats. If you do visit, don't forget to say hi!