A Guide to Sakura in Japan with Samsung Australia

 

Happiest girl in Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom at Gyoen Park. Second time in Japan for the infamous spring season. It was such a lovely time of the year to be in Tokyo and Kyoto for sakura. My husband is never really that into flowers, but, this thing with cherry blossoms had him at hello.

We travelled light this time, with one hand carry bag each and my Samsung S10+. It was funny, as we used to travel with a few gadgets including a laptop, a DSLR camera, a portable charge and a drone. Nowadays, I just feel the need to pack really light and have as few items as possible.

The S10+ got me covered with the multi lens camera. It was so good, I took over 1200 images in one trip! And then, there was the long battery life and PowerShare. It is a feature that Samsung has, to be able to charge another phone. Think of it, like a portable charge.

This time around in Japan, we took the familiar route from Tokyo to Osaka, via Kyoto. We spent about 5 days exploring Tokyo, as there are many viewing spots for cherry blossom trees. Shinjuku Gyoen itself has about 1,500 cherry trees of white and pale pink that bloom through most of the spring. If you’d like to see the place when it’s quiet, it is best to be there when it opens. The crowd just gets busier and busier towards closing time.

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan

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Meguro River is stunning. We took a short train ride to Meguro Station, which is south of the river. Follow the crowd, and you will see the infamous cherry trees lined up on Meguro River. It is voted as Japan’s number one viewing spot. And now we know why. The best way to enjoy hanami around the Meguro River is to walk along the rows of sakura. There are 800 or so somei-yoshino cherry trees. And you could easily spend hours snapping images, and having street snacks.

Address: 2-9 Shimo-meguro to 3-1 Higashiyama, Meguro Ward, Tokyo.

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You’ve never been to Japan if you haven’t had ramen or have a onigiri from the gazillion mini marts found in the city. We love a good bowl of ramen. The ramen is generally affordable, starting from $8 a bowl. Ramen is a Japanese dish with a translation of "pulled noodles", typically served in a meat or fish-based broth. There are many flavours and toppings to choose from, soy sauce or miso, sliced pork, nori, menma, to scallions.

We were spoilt with choices when it comes to snacks in mini marts. I live for it! For one, the onigiris are yum. And it is always dessert time as I love their creamy sponge cakes.

After a few days in Tokyo, we took a shinkansen to Kyoto. The trip with the bullet train took about 3 hours. It is always recommended to be at the train station a littler earlier than usual, to find your carriage. It’s just that the Japanese people are very punctual. I remembered we were one minute late, and we had to wave our bullet train goodbye.

Once on board, we had our bento boxes and snacks out, and watching videos on the S10+.

In Kyoto, the Philosopher’s Walk is famous for its cherry blossom trees. It is pedestrian path that follows a canal in Kyoto, between Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji. The route is named after a 20th-century Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who is thought to have used it for daily meditation.

Address: Shishigatani Honenin Nishimachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8427, Japan

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Now, if you’re a book lover, and you happened to be in Kyoto heading to Osaka, or vice versa, this bookstore is the place to visit. Hirakata T-site is not to be missed. It is a 5-storey store with a homewares department (which I’m obsessed with their beautiful ceramic ware). There is also a coffee shop down below the store. The bookstore stocks about 150,000 books and magazines, which is believable, if you explore it. The downside is, that most of the books are in Japanese. The best thing about Hirakata is that, they have many kawaii book on cats, which needs no translation.

Address: 12-2 Okahigashicho, Hirakata, Osaka 573-0032, Japan

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TravelMay Leong