12 Mar 2020 in Discover Japan
Treat yourself to a memorable sakura stay, far from the seasonal crowds.
Every year, the arrival of Japan’s celebrated cherry blossom attracts visitors from all over the world. Top sakura spots, such as Ueno Park in Tokyo or the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, can get extremely busy – although it’s well worth joining the masses for the mesmeric views.
But what if you could also appreciate the quintessential experience of hanami (flower-viewing) far from the crowds?
A private sakura session with seasonal food and drink. A moment of calm to truly contemplate the transient beauty of Japanese cherry blossom.
What about dining and breakfasting on your own cherry-blossom terrace in a riverside ryokan in Kyoto? Getting a unique perspective on Tokyo’s blooms from a private boat? Or celebrating in the birthplace of the iconic Somei-Yoshino cherry trees?
There’s more than one way to experience sakura season.
Private viewing and dining in Kyoto
If you’re in Kyoto at peak cherry blossom time, there are few better places to escape the crowds than HOSHINOYA Kyoto. After a day admiring the city’s top sights, you’ll be immersed in a world of calm thanks to the ryokan’s riverside setting in the rolling hills of Arashiyama.
What’s more, you can have your meals served on an exclusive outdoor terrace among pink-flowering cherry trees.
At the end of March and beginning of April, the ryokan erects a special cherry blossom terrace – which you can reserve exclusively for your use. With 29m² of wooden decking and 77m² of tatami mat, the terrace has plenty of space – and it’s built around two striking sakura trees, which are in full blossom at this period.
For dinner, you’ll be served a shokado-bento box under illuminated cherry trees. Expect seasonal treats such as Spanish mackerel, and scrambled eggs and dried mullet roe sprinkled over rapeseeds. To round off the evening, how about a cherry-coloured cocktail made from strawberries and sparkling sake?
The next day, you’ll participate in a private open-air tea ceremony on the tatami mats of your terrace. Whisk your own matcha tea and sip it on the generous sofa, as the sun lights up the pink flowers on the terrace.
Then lie down on the tatami mats under the trees to make the most of this exclusive sakura moment.
Trace the origins of cherry trees in Tokyo
If you prefer your hanami urban-style, head to Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka for the OMO Everything Sakura Festival. This northern area of the country’s capital is the birthplace of the Somei-Yoshino cherry trees – the most iconic type of sakura in Japan – and the hotel’s festival celebrates this historic link in style!
As a guest, you’ll be able to take an exclusive cherry tree tram tour, taste sakura-themed treats in the OMO Cafe, and get expert insights into the country’s cherry tree traditions. To add to the atmosphere, the hotel’s lobby lounge is bedecked with cherry blossom decorations during the festival.
The concept of OMO hotels is to give guests an insider experience thanks to OMO Rangers, the hotel’s neighbourhood experts who guide you to the most authentic places to eat, drink – and, during sakura season, to view cherry blossoms.
Follow the Ranger onto the local tram, one of only two lines remaining in Tokyo, to discover Otsuka’s finest blossoms.
Around 200 years ago, it was here in the ward of Toshima that the horticulturists of Edo Castle are said to have created the Somei-Yoshino tree through selective breeding. Today, the area is filled with the five-petaled flowers of this most revered of cherry trees – and you’ll be shown the best viewing spots by your guide, including Asukayama park.
After the tour, why not head back to the hotel for a Hanami Sweets Set, composed of cherry blossom mille-feuille and cherry blossom monaka?
Flower viewing from Tokyo’s waterways
Another unique sakura experience is provided by HOSHINOYA Tokyo, a luxury ryokan in the heart of Japan’s capital. From the hotel, you’ll be taken by rickshaw, via prime cherry blossom spots, to Nihonbashi Pier.
Here, you’ll board a small private boat, helmed by a guide who will steer you to the best waterside sakura spots of the moment.
From the coast of Tsukudajima to the banks of the Oyokogawa river, the trip offers a unique perspective on the city’s cherry blossom. As a bonus, you’ll be served sparkling sake and a sakura-inspired bento box onboard.
The ultimate way to appreciate cherry blossom in style.