Cherry blossoms, also known as Sakura, bloom simultaneously in the spring for one week. Recognized as Japan’s unofficial national flower, Sakura have frequently been used to establish diplomatic ties between Japan and other countries. The flowers reach full bloom and flutter to the ground gracefully during their final stage. The Japanese believe that these blossoms symbolize human life, transience and nobility. The blossoms begin in the southernmost island of Japan, Okinawa, in January and reach Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in late March with Peak Bloom Period is predicted for April 3 - April 9, 2009.
Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka are the most popular cities to witness this spectacular natural event and to ensure everyone gets a chance to view the delicate pink and white blossoms. Tokyo’s busy Ueno Park, with 1,500 cherry trees, can be one of the best places to view Sakura. Cherry blossoms in Kyoto and Osaka tend to bloom several days later. The Arashiyama Mountain, with the Togetsukyo Wood Bridge, and Kyoto’s Imperial Palace provide beautifully picturesque scenes. Four thousand Sakura trees around Osaka Castle are illuminated at night for one week at the end of March and beginning of April, while Osaka Expo Park with over 5,500 cherry trees is a great place to have a picnic while viewing the cherry blossoms.
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