When I lived in Mie prefecture (by Hokkaido standards, located roughly near the southern the tip of Japan), the annual cherry blossom season came and went in a flash toward the end of March and the beginning of April. As March dawned each year and we began to recover from the four month spell of dry, windy, and downright chilly weather, we looked forward to the slightly warmer season of sakura.
This year, now relocated to Hokkaido, thinking about cherry blossoms already is somewhat laughable as a late-winter blizzard roars just outside my double-pane window (note to Mie people: we have double-pane windows!).
Indeed, while the season is set to begin in my former home of Ise City by March 31st, Sapporo’s predicted kickoff date is May 1st. In Ise, I often got together with friends on the banks of the Miya River, where a “sakura tunnel” makes for great photos and inebriated crowds make for a lively atmosphere. In the riverside park, where barbecuing is technically prohibited, officials let things grill so long as the trees are still colorful.
Here in Hokkaido, I’ve yet to discover the best spots, the secret spots, or the no-barbecue spots. Surely some locals with more experience can help me figure this out, and when they do, we’ll post our own guide on Hokkaido Explorer. Meanwhile, share your thoughts in the comments.
And to my old friends in Mie, if you don’t get enough hanami in March/April, come pay us a visit at the beginning of May. We’ll have the barbecued lamb ready to eat, and the snow will (probably) be melted away.