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Cherry blossom

Visiting Japan in Spring

Now is the perfect time to book a 2020 trip to Japan. Australia’s autumn corresponds with Japan’s spring. Spring is the most popular time of year for people to visit Japan, so be sure to book your flights and accommodation well in advance. (Golden Week is a national holiday in Japan that will run from April 29 to May 5 in 2020. This is a peak time for travel in Japan and may drive up hotel rates.)

In Japan, spring is sakura—cherry blossom—season. The blossoms start to flower in the south in Okinawa, and the blossom season travels northward. The cherry blossom season only lasts for a few weeks, but spring typically lasts from March to June.

The sakura, or cherry blossom, is revered in Japan for its beauty and transience. Hanami is the spring tradition of admiring blossoms—usually cherry, and less frequently, plum. People in Japan take blankets to the park and hold blossom viewing parties while drinking sake. You can download apps to track the elusive blossoms.

Japanese cuisine takes its cues from the seasons. Spring menus feature takenoko—bamboo shoots, sansai—mountain vegetables such as warabi—fiddlehead fern. Asparagus, spring onions, mizuna and sato-nishiki—a prized type of cherry—are available in spring.

May is the beginning of matsuri—the festival season. Temples take their kami—gods—out on mikoshi—portable shrines—in decorative parades. One of Tokyo’s three annual sumo tournaments takes place in mid-May at Ryogoku Kokugikan—the national sumo stadium.