Arm Chair O-hanami

Arm Chair O-hanamiPink is the only color you’re going to see for the next few weeks while it is cherry blossom season in Japan. The good news is that even if you’re not in Japan, you can still do quite a bit of arm-chair cherry blossom viewing. So put your rose-colored glasses on and let’s start some virtual cherry blossom hunting!

To start with, you’ll want to join the crowds of Japanese internet surfers following the blossoms as they first open up in Okinawa in March and travel north where they will finally bloom in Hokkaido in May. You can get the cherry blossom report for over 50 locations in Japan, so you can know exactly where the trees are blooming. Once you know that the cherry blossoms are blooming in a certain area, you can do your O-hanami (cherry blossom viewing) online.

The following dates were predicted for various cities around Japan: Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya: March 26; Hiroshima and Takamatsu: March 29; Osaka: March 30; Fukuoka: March 27; Kagoshima: April 1; Niigata: April 11th.

The cherry blossom forecasts are available on the net at:

Japan’s Meteorological Agency site tracks the blossoms and has weekly updates athttp://www.jma.go.jp/jma/en/News/sakura.html

Weathernews Web site (The Sakura Project).

This is the best prediction and most user-friendly but there is no English page. Just roll your cursor over the part of Japan you want to see and click. Look for the pink leaves!http://weathernews.jp/sakura/

For scenic spots in Kyoto accompanied by photos, see Kyoto Tourism’s page athttp://www.kyoto.travel/events/hanami_seeing_cherry_blossom.html

Learn how to distinguish cherry blossom varieties according to their color and petal characteristics with photos at http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_species.html

Happy Armchair Cherry Blossom Viewing!

Amy Chavez is a columnist for The Japan Times. Visit her website at http://www.moooobar.com