We are literally at the doorstep to Spring (which I’m extremely eager to welcome!) therefore this week’s Friday Five will be covering 5 things to do in Spring in Japan!
Unlike in Singapore, where words like “Spring” and “Fall” are just meaningless phrases we see on advertisement billboards. For example, “2015 Fall Collection”! Fall what fall?!! The weather this month is the same as the previous month, which is the same as the month before… i.e. BLOODY FRIGGIN’ HOT AND HUMID.
However, they actually mean something in Japan (and everywhere else in the world where four seasons actually exist, I suppose). It’s when, well, things literally springing to life after the long, cold winter. (surprise, surprise.)
Japanese really love nature, and they take it very seriously. No matter which new nature spot we go to, there will be lots of people milling about, taking photos, enjoying a picnic, or simply basking in the beauty of nature.
There are (obviously) many things to do during spring but I could only select a few so I picked my favorites!
1. Sakura (Cherry blossoms)
I decided to get the obvious out of the way first :D
I don’t think these enchanting flowers that bewitches anyone that lays eyes on them needs any introduction.
So if you fell under a very strong bewitchment spell, don’t despair. They can be viewed all through spring, from March to May. You just need to chase them from Okinawa (south) to Hokkaido (north).
Hanami (lit. flower viewing) parties are also very popular. So grab a bento (boxed meal), a drink and dine enveloped in sakura bliss!
If you would like to go on a tour that brings you to sakura spots all around Japan, you might find this site helpful.
2. Ume (Plum) blossoms
Frequently overshadowed by the sakura is the ume blossoms (even in this blog post, I’m so sorry, ume!)
They bloom a couple of weeks earlier than sakura, and come in many varieties. From white to soft pink to passionate pink like the above! (haha, passionate pink sounds awesome right? Trying to give them a bit of attitude in the hopes people might give them an extra look lol)
To make up for placing ume blossoms after sakura, here’s one more photo!
They can be found in many places all around Japan, and this page lists some places in Japan where you can see them.
The first time I saw tulips still in the soil was in Japan haha. It wasn’t at any fancy place; just an old street walk near my place which is in a small neighbourhood outside of town.
But it was so… magical.
A flower that I previously thought to be so delicate, now thriving… outdoors? With the strong sun and wind and all the other elements? I mean, try leaving a tulip at room temperature in Singapore. Indoors. One hour and the flower would have regurgitated its insides o_O
But here! Fields of tulips are a reality!
Hitachi Seaside Park looks like a beautiful park with lots of tulips! (photo above taken from their website too) This park is on my to-visit list this year!
For those in Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association recommends these spots:
4. Shibazakura (Moss phlox)
An endless bed of pink flowers, with Mount Fuji as the backdrop. Tell me you don’t want to see this?!
There are many gardens all around Japan with this flowering species, but the important thing is to catch the right timing. For other flowers, plus minus a bit you won’t be able to tell the difference. But not with this.
We traveled 2 hours (one way!) to a park last year, only to find that we were past the prime and there were many empty spots in the ground, like it was balding. It was a truly sad sight.
This is the official website for the gorgeous Fuji Shibazakura Festival above.
For the clueless/lazy, here is a tour that goes to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival.
5. Ichigo-gari (Strawberry picking)
STRAWBERRIES!!! A staple fruit of spring and my favorite!
The strawberry season lasts from December till May, and during this time, many farms open up for visitors to pick strawberries on their farm. (I previously wrote about a strawberry picking experience here)
It’s usually 30 minutes of eat-all-you-can, and costs vary according to period but typically cost between 1,500 and 2,000 yen.
I can easily hold my weight in strawberry-eating but it’s not worth it at all for Fu haha. That said, there’s a good chance we will go strawberry picking this season (tomorrow, in fact!)
For a list other spring flowers (and parks that have them!) in Tokyo, visit this site!
What are your favorite things to do in Spring? (doesn’t have to be in Japan!)