While spring is usually a time for outdoor parties at which people can be seen mingling under the branches of sakura (cherry blossom) trees, this year is sadly different due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Precautions, such as social distancing, are necessary to help curb an increase in cases of the virus, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up on your chance to see Japan’s favorite blossoms.
The peak of cherry blossom season is just around the corner in many parts of the Japanese archipelago or has nearly passed in others, but there are still many virtual opportunities that encourage everyone to stay safe and indoors.
The cherry trees lining the banks of the Meguro River, which passes through Tokyo’s Meguro Ward are a popular site for blossom fans, and the locale is being livestreamed (https://bit.ly/2xFGzHq), which you can enjoy at home while sipping a refreshing cup of sake and indulging in sakura mochi (pink-colored rice cakes with bean paste filling).
Meanwhile, the Kansai region currently has cameras set up for live viewings at renowned places of worship. Among them is Abe Monjuin temple (https://bit.ly/2UB2qIY) in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, which has cherry trees that surround a hexagonal hall called the Kinkaku Ukimido. Another Kansai site that will have online access available is Higashi Honganji temple in Kyoto.
The livestreams of both Meguro River and Abe Monjuin temple will be accessible until early April. However, if you wait until mid-April, the city of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, will show a weeping cherry tree covered with deep-pink petals (https://bit.ly/3aCv2XU).
So, organize a virtual hanami (flower viewing) party and keep your spirits up. No matter how you decide to enjoy the spring, please be mindful of your proximity to others and stay indoors as much as possible.