Sakura season is upon us! While the somei yoshino are still just budding, the internet has been full of other cherry blossom flowers the past few weeks.
So how does one tell just what kind of cherry tree they’re enjoying? Use the handy guide below to help identify the various blossoms.
One of the earliest species of sakura to bloom, the Kawazuzakura boast fluffy petals that are undeniably pink. While the town of Kawazu in Shizuoka is best known for its namesake blooms, in Tokyo they can be found at Sakura Jingu in Setagaya or Ebara Shrine in Shinagawa.
Estimated bloom: February to early March
The tiny, somewhat spiky petals of the okamezakura are what set this tree apart from other cherry blossoms. The petals are darkish pink in color. In Tokyo, the Nihombashi district is lined with okamezakura, particularly the street behind the Coredo Muromachi complex.
Estimated bloom: early to mid March
The dark pink kahnizakura are native to Okinawa and most often seen in the subtropical south. The dark pink, bell-shaped petals are striking against a blue spring sky. While not on display in many locations, you can catch a few trees in the rear section of Kiyosumi Garden.
Estimated bloom: mid-March
4. Somei Yoshino
The somei yoshino are the darlings of the country, and the species around which the entire sakura season revolves. With mostly white petals, these trees rely more on numbers than bold colors to make an impression. They can be seen everywhere in Tokyo, but in large displays along the Chidorigafuchi moat, Meguro River, and around the Akasaka Ark Hills complex.
Estimated bloom: late March-early April
Ichiyo are a bushy-blossomed cherry, with up to 20 individual petals on one flower. This is one of the most common types of yaezakura – or multipetaled cherries – and is enjoyed towards the end of the main sakura season. You can catch a number of ichiyo at Asukayama Park, in Oji.
Estimated bloom: mid-April
A shidarezakura, or weeping cherry, in full bloom is an impressive sight. Shidarezakura are often found planted alone, as a centerpiece of a particular temple or shrine. In Tokyo, I love the weeping cherry on the grounds of Tennoji temple, on the edge of Yanaka Cemetery.
Estimated bloom: early-mid April
Jugatsuzakura (or juugatsuzakura) are known literally as “October cherry blossoms”, so named for the fact that they bloom twice a year – in spring and in autumn. While they make a muted splash on the scene in spring (as they bloom at the same time as the showier somei yoshino), it’s a special sight to see them in mid-autumn, brightening up the October scene. A famous jugatsuzakura stands on the grounds of Ikegami Honmonji temple in Tokyo’s Ota Ward.
Estimated bloom: March/April and October/November