The cherry trees are beginning to bloom across Japan, and it is time to prepare for hanami (cherry-blossom viewing), which has been an annual custom since the Heian Period (794-1185).

Though hanami literally means "flower-viewing" and typically refers to admiring sakura (cherry blossoms), in practice it's a season of drinking, eating and having a good time with family and friends under pink cherry flowers.

In addition to public parks and other open viewing areas, there are a number of hotels in Tokyo that boast beautiful Japanese gardens, and can be good locations for viewing sakura in Japan. Many of them will hold sakura-related events, offering cuisine made from seasonal ingredients.