Cherry madness starts early in Shinjuku Gyoen

Today was a gloriously sunny day with a warm breeze, and I found myself in Shinjuku Gyoen. Plenty of young families sprawled out on the lawn, with small kids playing ball. There’s a glorious magnolia pair near the entrance, but already the senior citizen, photo hobbyists brought out the big equipment to take photos of the early cherry trees.

Did you know that Shinjuku Gyoen has twelve species of cherry? And that they bloom from late February into mid April? There’s a very educational chart. I believe the one above is Prunus x kanzakura (カンザクラ、寒桜). If so, it’s about one to two weeks behind the schedule.

Not sure if I will be brave enough to return to Shinjuku Gyoen during peak cherry season when literally millions of people fill the park. Here’s my favorite photo from last year’s cherry season: a salaryman perched precariously on the Imperial Palace moat’s rail to snap a photo with his cellphone.

What’s your favorite place for cherry blossom viewing? Famous spots or neighborhood spots? What’s the most unlikely place you’ve seen cherry madness?

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