Before Cherry Blossom

In the weeks leading to sakura week, the plum trees start blooming, the weather changes, it is still chilly but the light is brighter and the sky blue, it is a wonderful and exciting couple of weeks and everyone is waiting for cherry blossom

 

 

This year, during that period, we also had the Tokyo Marathon, so well organised, spotless, lines of water bottles waiting, volunteers along the 43km, really impressive and a nice and friendly atmosphere. If you are in Tokyo at that time, have a look, it is very peaceful and friendly, I recommend it

Kobe delights

Kobe is known internationally for the beef but actually in Japan, people say that Kobe Beef is the 3rd best after Matsuzaka and Ohmi Beef, I tend to agree

Did you know that this industry is in danger. with the ageing population, less and less people want to take over the business and the average farmers’age is currently 66.

Kobe is also known to be the bread and cakes city as it is among the ports that first opened to foreigners (Dutch and Portuguese) together with Nagasaki and you find there delicious cakes

 

Nara – more tips

Like Kyoto, Nara is known for the Tsukemono, pickled vegetables, they have wonderful traditional shops in the main street for this with all sorts of pickles and employees preparing them in the back of the shop, enjoy, there are worth the taste

 

Japan also produces Manju – biscuit filled with An, a red bean (asuki) paste, the shape varies with the season, it is always a delicious break

 

Kobe

Kobe is a nice city, with a mix of port, student life and hills. I like the Kitano area with European style villas, the hills and the garden at the top, but also the restaurants in town and the cakes and bakers everywhere. It is more peaceful than Osaka and people are nice

Cherry Blossom

in 2018, Cherry blossom came to Tokyo one week ahead of normal. it all started on March 25th, the week end was a peak in visitors to parks

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People deploy blankets and drink sake, picnic under the trees to enjoy the moment. it is a celebration of spring, the nice weather back

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We were very lucky as it did not rain since the blossom came out, so Tokyo people enjoyed 2 full week ends of joy.

Everywhere, you can see cherry trees of all sorts and I wandered in Shiba park, Imperial park where a specific section opens to public from 10h00 to 15h30 only during this period. Everywhere was absolutely packed. I gave up the idea of going to Ueno as the perspective of the crowd put me off. I also went to Hanzomon to enjoy the trees at the back of the imperial park.

I accidentally found a great place in Midtown Roppongi where the night lights were just beautiful.

Midweek, I dared going to Nakameguro and watch the riverside, this is a chore, totally overwhelmed by people, a lot of “chiringuitos” selling sparkling wine with strawberry or cherry sake all along, it is very beautiful but you need to be patient, and walk at (slow) pace with the crowd

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Tips for Osaka

Thank you Zeynep for sharing and detailing your experience. very useful!

HOTELS

  • Hotel Mielparque: very nice and cool hotel, comfortable, 3mn walk from Shin-Osaka station (shinkansen)
  • FP Hotel: also very good hotel, with large rooms, the area is not the nicest but has excellent connections (1mn walk from JR Shin-Imamiya and 3 min from metro Doobutsuenmae)
  • Via Inn Hotel Umeda: this hotel only opened in Late July 2017, breakfast included in the rate, very good location at the end of the 1st shopping arcade within the Osaka Station, Umeda station (exit on the side of Hankyu building)
  • Holiday Inn Namba to be in the heart of the Namba area
  • I really enjoy staying at ANA Crowne Plaza in the heart of the Dojima area, plenty of restaurants, izakaya, sushi bars

 

  • for the unique luxury experience, no doubt I would go to InterContinental, the rooms are amazing, vast, bright, beautiful bathroom, but also they have a Japanese bath area and a real gym