I was fortunate to be in Tokyo for my first “Hanami” and the widespread festivities welcoming the spring season. The city was literally ablaze in a blizzard of pale pink petals with celebrations escalating as the blossoms peaked. I was told that the short-lived, delicate “sakura” (cherry blossoms) would be gone by the first rain. Although we were experiencing chilly, cloudy weather, I ran with camera in hand to prime spots that were suggested to me. I too got caught up in the festivities and the excitement visiting the Meguro River in Nakemeguro; Shinjuku Gyoen and Inokoshira Park–each site offering a unique Hanami experience.
Since the Meguro River offered the most fantastic blooms of these excursions, I thought it would be interesting to visit at night which I would find out later is referred to as “Yozakura,” night Hanami. I was right, the sakura were just as spectacular with the heightened drama of the glowing lanterns strung along the river reflecting onto the branches and on the water below. The walkways along the canal were teeming with an almost ritualistic procession of people. They spent continuous days and nights, strolling, taking pictures and enjoying treats from vendors who were selling food, drinks and glasses of rose champagne.
I took so many pictures that I decided to present my Hanami experience in three parts to retain the mood of each setting.