When I learned we had to go to Tokyo for my husband's work, I was especially excited because it happened to be during the cherry blossom season, or sakura, as the Japanese call it. The flowers are only in full bloom for two weeks and every year the dates are a little different.
We were lucky enough to be there during the height of the season, and I must admit, it was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen.
Finding a hotel this time of year can be a nightmare. They are often sold out months in advance, especially on the weekends. We were able to get a cancelation at the Shangri-La Tokyo and revisited the hotel we were at just a few months ago.
With Sakura comes a certain excitement in the air, even for locals. They are all so excited and proud of these gorgeous flowers and many a business honors the season with specialty products in the sakura flavor or color. Even Starbucks came out with a sakura frappacino, and sakura decorated tumblers and tea cups.
On our second day in Tokyo, we visited one of the many sites for sakura, near our hotel in Chiyoda. The 700-meter-long Chidorigafuchi-ryokudo sidewalk was like walking in a dream. Located west of the Imperial Palace there are around 260 trees of the Somei Yoshino and Oshima Cherry varieties. Little pedal boats float along the water and you cannot help but gaze at the flower filled scenery.
The stroll only took us about an hour, but I know it is a moment I will never forget. It was the perfect spring day with my husband in Tokyo under a blanket of blossoms. Along the way we came across the most unique Japanese matcha soft-serve and of course had to sample it. I assure you it was every bit as tasty as it looks.
You cannot help but to take photo after photo, as at each new turn of the path, is a different vantage point for appreciating the beauty of the flowers.
The best sakura specials we enjoyed were desserts. Our favorite tempura restaurant is called Ippoh. It's located in Ginza in the shopping plaza above Barney's New York. Their tempura is nothing short of phenomenal, but what was unique about this visit was the sakura ice cream that came out as the last course. It's a little bit salty and sweet and a beautiful pale pink. It was simply divine.
Another treat was the Nenrinya Baumkuchen. A friend mentioned to me that I must find this famous cake while in Tokyo. It's made from a special oven and people line up for it. It typically comes in vanilla, green tea and chocolate. But I was lucky enough to try the sakura flavor. This alluring cake has thin layers and is coated with large sugar crystals. It's very delicate and not too sweet or dense. The cakes are sold in the most delightful boxes and make the perfect gifts for friends and family at home.
Experiencing sakura was so very special. Despite the crowds, the crazy hotel rates, and the hype, it really was spectacular. I hope we get to enjoy this magical season in Tokyo again some day.