by Mike Oakland
Spring is upon us, which means we can all enjoy more excuses to get stone cold drunk during the day. Warm weather? Get drunk. Sunny day? Get drunk. Allergies not so bad today? That’s worth cracking a beer. Hey, look at all this girlie pink shit growing on these trees! Time to celebrate!
We’re pretty sure that’s how the first ever hanami party got started – a bunch of Japanese folks getting together under the Sakura tree, known for its attractive pink flowers that bloom for only a scant two weeks of the year, and deciding the pretty colors were as good a reason as any to drink during the day in the Spring.
All that stuff about viewing the blossoms and contemplating the fleetingness of life probably came after, like, 10 or 15 cold ones.
Still, hanami or “cherry blossom viewing” in our crude, clunky caveman language, is a deeply cherished Japanese tradition that is usually accompanied by good friends, good drinks and good food and since it’s completely free to plop down under one of the Sakura trees with some buddies, it’s probably one of your best options for this weekend.
Here are our picks for the three best places to do hanami this year.
Ueno Park is extremely central, so it’s a great place for tourists who are crashing somewhere downtown. It’s packed every year, so your chances of meeting some cool people are pretty high, and there’s a long central corridor of Sakura trees, so if you can’t find any seating space, you can enjoy hanami at a leisurely walk.
This hard to pronounce location is one of the best in Tokyo in terms of sheer beauty. The lake adjacent to the walking paths causes some of the Sakura trees to lean out, creating a dramatic scene so romantic not even a loud, unintended fart could ruin your date. It is also very close to the Imperial Palace, where more cherry blossoms can be viewed.
Yoyogi Park is by far the most spacious on this list, and with over 600 Sakura trees, you’re almost certain to be able to stake out some prime real estate. It’s a great place for singles, as the crowd tends to be young and pretty drunk. This is definitely the best pick if you prefer your hanami experience to be more stationary and booze-soaked.