Sakura, or cherry blossom, has passed into the universal language. It is now a world symbol of spring. Nearly every country has cherry trees blossoming à la Japonaise each spring, but Japan is the home of sakura; it is her national legacy and pride. In spring all Japan blossoms out into one colossal garden. Hanami--flower-viewing-invariably means the viewing of the cherry in spring. Visitors arriving in the southern parts of Japan towards the end of March, and then traveling northwards by slow stages, will have the sakura in front and behind them all the time well into the middle of May. In the central districts of Tokyo or Kyoto the best time for hanami is in the first ten days of April. But the visitor should come a little earlier and wait for the buds to burst rather than just in time for the full bloom. The moment the sakura is in full blossom it will begin to scatter as in a snow-storm. Then it is too late to lament:
"Ah, the sakura that I missed seeing for one night!
Tokyo is often called by the romantic name of "Hana-no-miyako" (the capital of flowers), and it is no fancy term. Viewed from a height in mid-spring, it looks like a city set in a sea of blossoms. So does almost every other city worthy of the name. Japan's idea of a city is something more than a symmetrical cobweb of large houses and wide roads; it must be a city of blossom as well.
In rural parts, the pink and white of sakura are set off in a still more exquisite coloring by the soft verdure of the newly sprouting grass. Thus, alike in city and in country, the sakura reigns the unrivaled queen of spring. Happy then are they that come to Japan in time for the sakura, for once seen, it will leave a memory of beauty which can never be effaced.
Though the sakura is an omnipresent joy in springtime, there are places specially famed for flower-viewing by reason of their added charm of scenery or festive entertainments, or the lure of distance affording an opportunity of change from the familiar scenes of daily life. Among these -- too many to mention -- in and near Tokyo, are Ueno, Arakawa, Koganei, etc., while the environs of Kyoto boast of such classic names as Arashiyama, Yoshino, etc. No details are needed here, however, for in the sakura season the radio and newspapers will announce the "flower news" every day for weeks to tell us where to go and how to get there.