Time for Sakura in Japan!

Mar 17 | Evan | No Comments |

 Sakura Flowering Rush about to take place in Japan 2021 March

One of the most popular times of the year for international travelers to visit Japan is spring when sakura, cherry blossoms are blooming. If you have visited Japan during this time, you know the beautiful pink sakura flowers spotted all over the country. For Japanese, sakura is extremely important and symbolic. There are many songs about sakura, and this time of the year, sakura truly holds a special place in Japanese people’s hearts. In this article, let’s dig in deeper about sakura, what it means to Japanese people, but also find out when we are expecting sakura to fully bloom in 2021. Of course, with the travel restrictions, we international travelers cannot visit Japan, but let’s learn about it so that maybe next year in 2022, we get to take a part in a photography tour of Japan to view the beautiful flowers and photograph them. 

The significance of sakura to Japanese people 

For Japanese, March is the month when you graduate or end the school/work year while April is the month of new beginning, to start a new grade, school, or work, thus sakura is extremely symbolic to Japanese to signify these special times of the year. For many Japanese, sakura is the flowers that are blooming at graduation and/or entrance ceremony so they often hold special feelings and memories to Japanese such as departure, end of school, end of relationship, as well as new beginning and new relationship. Yes, it’s a very complex feeling, thus sakura holds a special place in Japanese people’s hearts.

If you ever searched on YouTube for songs titled sakura, you find plenty (You might need to search using katakana, hiragana, and kanji to look for all!).  Let me introduce one from Naotaro Moriyama, which is a very popular graduation song with a title sakura. If you can read the comments in Japanese, take some time to read the comments. Many Japanese people are leaving comments with personal stories associated with this song. Besides from the incredibly talented singer’s voice, the lyrics really speak to Japanese people.  If you are curious about the lyrics, you can easily find the lyrics online, which can be translated instantly in Google search. 

In addition to Naotaro Moriyama’ sakura, let me introduce another sakura by Ketsumeishi. While Naotaro Moriyama’s sakura has a feeling of students graduating from schools and departing from one another, this Ketsumeishi sakura version is for more grownups who are now working and are starting a new chapter in life. 

Besides these two, there are many more songs titled sakura and songs that sing about this time of the year depicting sakura blooming and/or falling down. If you are curious, search more on your own and share with us which sakura song you like. 

Japan is expecting the Sakura Flowering Rush in the 3rd week of March in 2021! 

Ok, let’s get back to this year’s sakura forecast. According to the (use google translate) Japan Weather Association’s Ms. Yoshida, the 2nd week of March has had little ups and downs with temperature, but it has been on a high end so it is expected that sakura is going to start blooming in the 3rd week of March. 

According to Ms. Yoshida, sakura has already flowered in Hiroshima on the 11th of March 2021 and Fukuoka on the 12th of March 2021, which are both the earliest since this recording has been made. This year’s flowering is roughly 10 days earlier than usual and Kyushu Region to Kanto Region is expected to see a flowering rush in the 3rd week of March. 

As of March 13th 2021, Tokyo is expected to flower on the 16th, Nagoya on the 17th, and Osaka on the 19th. The full bloom is expected a week to 10 days since the flowering starts. Unfortunately, sakura viewing, “ohanami” to get together under a sakura tree is prohibited this year again, but Japanese people will be enjoying beautiful sakura very soon. 

Unfortunately, except for Japanese people living in Japan, we cannot enjoy sakura blooming this year in Japan, but I am pretty sure many people will post these beautiful flowers very soon on social media so let’s keep an eye out for it. Also, there are some sakura in the US too so hopefully if you live near sakura in the US, you get to enjoy the beautiful spring flowers soon. Maybe when you see them next time, you might be thinking about what it means to Japanese by remembering perhaps your new favorite sakura song, which Introduced today or you discovered by surfing YouTube.

2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour | Miyajima and Hiroshima

Jul 15 | Evan | No Comments |

After spending 2 nights in Tokyo, the 2019 cherry blossom photo tour of Japan traveled by bullet train to Miyajima. While tour was without rain so far, colder than normal temperatures had Japan feeling more like Japan in the winter rather than Japan during cherry blossom season. For the most part, the cooler temperatures during cherry blossom season in Japan helped by slowing what started as an early blooming cherry blossom season and the cherry blossoms held their pose for us just a little longer!

Miyajima Island
Miyajima Island

The two photos above are courtesy of and created by one of our group’s photographers, Daniel Leffel. Take a look at Daniel’s website for more excellent photography not only of Japan but all over the word.

Miyajima is one of my favorite places to bring photographers in Japan. Actually, even for my less or non photography oriented tours of Japan, Miyajima and Hiroshima are always a pleasure to visit.

The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour took a small group of photographers to Japan. We started in Tokyo and continued to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji Castle, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji from Shizuoka and from Fuji Five Lakes. Here is the trip report from the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan and the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan. The 2020 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live! Limited spots are available for the 2020 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!

Below is a gallery of cherry blossom photos from our days in Miyajima.

2017 Private Summer Tour of Japan | Miyajima and Hiroshima

Aug 13 | Evan | No Comments |

After a few days of exploring Tokyo it was time to move to our next destination, Miyajima and Hiroshima.  We took the bullet train from Shinagawa all the way down to Hiroshima and then a local train to Miyajimaguchi before finally taking a ferry to the island of Miyajima.  As you can see, it’s quite the transfer to get to Miyajima from Tokyo, but Miyajima, considered to be one of Japan’s three most scenic places, is worth the effort to get there during a trip to Japan!

 

Besides the scenery, Miyajima is famous for the semi wild deer that roam free on the island.  I use the word “semi” because the deer are more or less completely adjusted to seeing humans and walking next to or even begging for food.  In some cases, like in the video below, if the deer on Miyajima think you have food, they will chase you!  If you go to Miyajima, hide plastic bags, don’t eat in front of the deer and avoid the baby deer as mom’s can be overprotective!  The baby deer are super cute though!

In addition to spending time on the island of Miyajima, we explored Hiroshima a little before moving on to our next destination, Kyoto.  The morning was spent at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, obviously a very somber experience but a important to learn about the horrors of what happened.  After the museum, thanks to Gluten Free Japan Tours, we went to an okonomiyaki restaurant, Koguma, that can prepare gluten free okonomiyaki before finishing up our day at Shukkeien Garden. 

See more photos below or the full report to see more posts from the custom and private photography tour of Japan.

2017 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan | Miyajima and Hiroshima

May 19 | Evan | No Comments |

After a short stay in Tokyo, our group of photographers touring Japan headed southwest to Hiroshima and Miyajima for the 2017 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan.  Even though the cherry blossoms started to bloom earlier than normal in many places in Japan, a sudden burst of cold weather put the cherry blossoms on pause, so the sakura while approaching full bloom in Miyajima and Hiroshima, had not caught up yet with our group tour of Japan.

 

We know the average dates cherry blossoms open and bloom in Japan but these dates are just that, averages.  Every year is a little different both in the exact dates the cherry blossoms bloom and how fast they go from opening to full bloom and then from full bloom to finished.  If you look at photos from almost the exact same dates in Miyajima from the year before, you can see quite a difference in the status of cherry blossoms!

This is why when planning a cherry blossom tour of Japan for photographers, it is important to include places on the itinerary that not only have slightly different cherry blossom blooming average dates but also that locations we visit also have photographic opportunities should the cherry blossoms not cooperate with our schedule.  Of course, there are also a variety of different cherry blossoms, like these pink ones in the first photo below from Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima, some blooming earlier in Japan and some later, so this helps as well!

 

Daytime in Miyajima is quite crowded with tourists making a day trip, so if possible, I like to spend the early mornings, late afternoons and evenings in Miyajima and visit neighboring Hiroshima during the day.  Creating a photograph like Tim’s below at Itsukushima Shrine would be impossible as besides the light, there seems to be a never ending flow of tourists in Miyajima.  Besides Shukkeien Garden mentioned above, the Peace Park and Memorial Museum is nice to visit during the day and Hiroshima Castle is nice as well. 

Created by and courtesy of Tim Durham

Created by and courtesy of Tim Durham

The 2017 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan took our small group of photographers to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, Wazuka and Fuji Five Lakes.  Take a look at the 2017 Cherry Blossom Tour Trip report to see more from our tour of Japan during cherry blossom season. Want to visit Japan during cherry blossom season with Japan Photo Guide?  The 2018 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan for photographers has limited spaces available, book now!

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