Japan has got to be the only country in the world with forecast systems in place for both some of the worst natural disasters imaginable, and flowers.
Meteorological agencies across the country rush to predict just when and where the great pink blob will descend, so millions can plan on which days to pull sickies in order to recover from hanami.
Anywhere else in the world, a ‘flower viewing’ party would sound a bit of a bore-fest, but not in Japan. Travel itineraries on the internet spout endless superlatives about the transient beauty of the blossoms, how important they are in the Japanese psyche, and how you absolutely MUST visit in April so as not to miss the ‘big pink’ (it’s not actually called that, I just made that up).
But us kids know that hanami isn’t about appreciating cherry blossoms. It’s the time of year when hospital admittances for alcohol poisoning are at their highest and sales of blue plastic sheets skyrocket. A million salarymen can’t be wrong, and if you wish to join them in their merriment and madness, here are some of Nagoya’s prime spots.
The sakura Mecca of Nagoya, but I may be over-exaggerating. Over 2000 trees, with plenty of space to enjoy them and lots of hiding places to disappear when it all gets too much. Access: Motoyama Station (Meijo / Higashiyama subway lines), Exit 1, head up Nekogahora-dori past CoCoichi or go to Jiyugaoka Subway Station (Meijo Line)
One of the less subdued places to do hanami – lamppost climbing has been known to occur (followed by karaoke renditions from on high). Not for the faint-hearted. 1200 trees. Access: Tsurumai Station, main exit (JR Chuo/Tsurumai subway lines).
Nagoya Castle (Meijo Park)
The 1600 or so blossom trees here really bring out the ferrite concrete of the castle quite nicely. Watch out for the annual castle festival – it’s on during most of the cherry blossom season. The trees are lit-up until late evening. Access: Shiyakusho Station (Meijo subway line), Exit 7.
There are actually different varieties of cherry blossom trees here, so they bloom over a longer period of time. More hanami, anyone? The Spring Festival will run until early May. Access: Higashiyama Koen Station (Higashiyama subway line), Exit 3.
Around 500 trees stretch along a couple of kilometers of river. Illuminated. Yay! Access: Mizuho Undojo-Nishi Station (Sakura-dori subway line), Exit 2.