Chasing Japan Cherry Blossom Summed Up

It all started as a “Perfect” Plan

We thought we had a well thought out plan. We took into consideration last year full bloom dates and the average “ten year” full bloom dates. We planned for four days in Tokyo then moved on to Kyoto (day 5, 6,7) , Nara/Osaka (day 8,9), Yoshino (day 10), Takayama (day 11), Ina (day 12), Mt Fuji (day 13), Sakura City (day 14) then home. Everything seemed perfect when the plan was drawn up in December.

Then the news in February said Cherry Blossom would be early. Our dates still seemed okay. As April drew closer, the cherry blossom updates started to come in fortnightly then weekly then daily. Oh dear, our Tokyo dates were moving to the tail end of the “best viewing” period but still good still within the period.

The “best viewing” periods for all the other regions also shifted, Kyoto “best viewing” period which usually ended four days after Tokyo’s was now ending almost at the same time. This meant that our plan of staying 4 days in Tokyo then driving south to Kyoto on the 5th day would cause us to  arrive 4 days after the “best viewing” date for Kyoto. 

A few days before we flew into Tokyo we were making some last minute changes to our route, we cut down our four days in Tokyo to three so as to reach Kyoto earlier. We figured we would need at least three days to complete 9 cherry blossom sites in Tokyo. 

Soon our first day in Tokyo became one day off the last day of the “best viewing period” and by the time we flew into Tokyo we were off by two days. We were not too sure what was the implication of being late by 2 days. We might have to do some rerouting based on the flower situation in Tokyo.

We visited our “top” cherry blossom destination in Tokyo on day 1, Chidorigafuchi Park at Chiyoda. It was a huge disappointment there was no “pink” moat in sight, the cherry trees at Chidorigafuchi Park already turned green. Similarly, day 2 morning we made a trip to the outskirt to visit Inokashira Park, our 2nd must-see cherry blossom destination, again no cherry blossom. We gave up going to our 3rd must-see destination, river near Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, because we believed it would be another wasted visit. 

To save the situation we had to reroute our plan. We changed the route for day 3 and day 4 and there after we were frequently changing our route based on the cancellation flexibility of our hotel reservations and the places that would have “late blooming” cherry trees.

Original route vs Final route

Original route vs Final route

Flexibility versus cost

On hindsight for such a trip we should not have booked hotels that did not allow cancellation or late cancellation. The booking at Kyoto was an example. I booked our accommodation at Kyoto as it was relatively cheap, so for some saving the room were paid upon booking with no refund or change of date allowed. There were also a few other bookings that did not allowed late cancellation. Eventually we had to balance rerouting against cost to achieve some compromise.

Cherry blossom scenery and more

Though our primary aim was to visit cherry blossom destinations but our route would bring us past other beautiful destinations in Japan which were worth visiting anytime. Due to the early arrival of cherry blossom we missed some “stunning” destinations. Luckily our rerouting saved this trip as we managed to reach some “stunning destinations” earlier and added other destinations that we had not planned to visit in our original plan.  

 

Mt Kobo (Matsumoto)

Takato Castle

Kayabuki no Sato

Ashikaga Flower Park

Meguro River Cherry Blossom

Takayama Sakura Festival

Takayama Cherry Blosom

Mt Fuji Sunset

Trip costs and Breakdown

All in we spent about SGD$10,100 for the four of of us for the entire 14 day trips.  The breakdown are as below:

flight hotel food transport (train, car, toll, parking) tickets others 
23% 28.5% 13% 26.5% 2.5% 6.5%

“others” included insurance, mobile data, etc etc

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