It's sakura season once again in Japan. This year in Tokyo, sakura started blooming on 27 March which just so happened to be Sakura Day. 🌸
27 March is Cherry Blossom Day
In 1992, the Japan Cherry Blossom Association established 27th of March as Sakura Day (桜の日 Sakura no Hi).
Why 27th March? Because 3 x 9 (read sakura) = 27.
Also, 27 March falls right in the middle of the "sakura starts to bloom (桜始開 sakura hajimete hiraku)" season which is 1 of Japan's 72 pentads (七十二候 shichijuniko). The 72 pentads is a traditional Japanese calendar system that divides the year into 72 microseasons.
I've always wanted to visit Rikugien for autumn foliage but my colleague who previously worked there recommended me to visit during spring to see the shidare-zakura (枝垂桜), or weeping cherry blossom.
Due to the Coronavirus situation, Rikugien was actually closed since January this year but thankfully they reopened on 22 March. I quickly bought our tickets before they sell out.
Rikugien is a hybrid between a tsukiyama (築山 hill and pond) and strolling style garden. Rikugien was established in 1702 by Daimyo Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu who was especially favoured by Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the 5th shogun. During the Edo period, stroll gardens were particular popular with Daimyos and Shoguns enjoying morning strolls.
At first, I was worried that walking around the garden would be tiring but it was not as big as I expected. The weather was also very nice. At one part of the garden, you can climb up some stairs to get a higher vantage point.
Something I looked forward to very much was having matcha at the teahouse - Fukiage Chaya. There are a lot of teahouses marked on the map but they were just pondoks 😒
Though there are a few flavours of wagashi, you don't get to pick which you want. The yellow one was Yuzu flavour and the blue one was red bean. The matcha was great! High quality (according to my friend that worked there) and super frothy!
In front of Fukiage Chaya was a beautiful sakura tree.
We had plenty of time left to spare before our dinner reservations at night (for another article). So, we decided to just explore the area near the restaurant which just happened to be Ichigaya. To my very happy surprise, the streets were lined with rows of sakura trees!
Yasukuni Shrine 靖国神社
The highly controversial Yasukuni Shrine was located in Ichigaya. I had heard about it before from an acquaintance of mine - she was upset at the irresponsibility of influencers that promoted the place as a sakura viewing spot but not mentioning about its highly controversial nature, and was curious about it.
I won't be covering what exactly is so bad about Yasukuni Shrine, just read about it on Wikipedia or something. It's too complicated for me to go into and I don't want to get details wrong.
We wanted to visit the museum but unfortunately it had already closed. Hidden in a small alley near the museum are these beauties.
We'll be going to Shinjuku Gyoen next week so look forward to our post then! 🐙