Sakura Season 2020

It is not the brightest and the most romantic moment right now in 2020, the corona virus is still spreading and it hasn’t been decreased. You might probably know a lot of entertainment facilities are closed and a lot of events are canceled. End of March is almost coming, which means the cherry blossoms will full bloom soon. The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike warns people, hanami (picnic under the cherry blossoms) is still a risky activity in this situation. She asks people to refrain doing picnic and having parties in parks. Although, she doesn’t want to stop people enjoying cherry blossoms, she said on March 12th: “We discussed what to do with hanami. It is open-air, therefore we still want people to admire flowers.”

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Even though, hanami is very fun and it is a tradition in Japan, it is better to listen to the governor of Japan. But how and where can we enjoy sakura (cherry blossom) this year? It is better to go to small local parks in the residential areas instead of the popular big public parks, where a lot of people (locals and tourists) come. Before going to the list of suggestions. Here is the list of sakura festivals which are canceled:

Ueno Sakura festival 2020
Chiyoda Sakura festival 2020
Nakameguro Sakura festival 2020 (along the river)
Shibuya Sakuragaoka Sakura festival 2020
Bunkyo Sakura festival 2020
Jiyugaoka Sakura festival 2020
Sa*kaso Sakura festival 2020 in Asukayama park
Koganei Sakura festival 2020
Sumida Koen Sakura festival 2020

In other small places, there are no festivals hold, but they are still nice to walk around or sit there. According to the cherry blossom forecast, the blossoms have started blooming in Tokyo on March 14th. The best moment is around March 27th. Probably in the weekend of March 28th and 29th you can enjoy the beautiful scenario.

For Happy House Mint and Witt-Style Clover
Two big parks in Nerima ward with a lot of cherry blossoms. Hikarigaoka Park and Toshimaen Park in Nerima ward.

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For Happy House Koenji and Happy House Kamikitazawa
A popular spot for locals and less for tourists, it is the Wadabori park in Suginami ward. Big cherry blossom trees along the Zenpukuji river.

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For Happy House Orange, Vitamin Color and Asian
Nakano has a lot of Cherry Blossoms and not specifically in parks. Nakano dori is full of cherry blossoms.

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For Witt-Style Nakameguro and Witt-Style Mishuku
One of the most popular spot to see sakura is in Nakameguro, along the Nakameguro river. It might be less busy compare to the previous years, but probably it is better to skip to go there for this year. In Setagaya ward, there is a park called Kinuta Park, which has about 930 cherry blossoms blooming.

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For Happy House Kagurazaka & Chilli Pepper and Cream
PersonallyI went to Iidabashi area for hanami last year, it was not super crowded along the Kanda river, so probably there won’t be many people walking this year. It is beautiful though.


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Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Livin’ in a Grandma’s Paradise – Sugamo

Our sharehouse Apricot Terrace is in Sugamo. Sugamo is a slice of pure, classic Tokyo, served up at your grandparents’ house because you told them your mum hasn’t fed you yet.

Sugamo is known locally as ‘Granny’s Harajuku’ and it’s easy to see why. Geriatrics visit Jizo Dori in their hordes to get the best picks of traditional Japanese sweets, premium matcha tea and old-timey fashions.

But this grandma’s paradise holds plenty of attractions for any ages. Especially visitors who want to see a more old fashioned side of Tokyo. These are our favourites.

(link:http://japan-local-guide.com/ja/sugamo_a_paradise_for_tourists_who_want_to_take_a_look_at_old_japan/)

Obligatory Cute Mascot Sugamon

The mascot of Sugamo is a very round, white duck called Sugamon and he is adorable. A replica of his butt is stationed at the entrance to Jizo Dori, which can be stroked for a boost of luck in love. His schedule is written only in Japanese, but you can be sure he’ll make an appearance at all Sugamo’s festivals and events. His bum also looks like the shio daifuku that Sugamo is famous for. Mochi filled with red bean paste and flavoured with salt to counteract the sweetness. http://sugamon.jp/

 

Maruji Red Pants

You may notice an abundance of bright red panties. Not so much Sugamo’s saucy underbelly, rather these underwear are believed to grant you good health if you wear them. Judging by the average age of their patrons, there may be something in it…

(link:https://matcha-jp.com/en/greatertokyo/place/ChIJSQZuOp2NGGAReuli9ZYo2Ic)

Koganji Temple (Togenuki Jizo Temple)

This temple is more commonly known by its nickname of Togenuki Jizo, meaning ‘Jizo that draws out the thorn’ in reference to a story about the Jizo deity that is enshrined there. A samurai drew 10,000 pictures of the deity in order to cure his wife’s disease and after that the pictures were also used to cure a woman who had swallowed a thorn. Even now, this temple is very popular with people who want to cure their ailments.


(link:http://japan-local-guide.com/ja/sugamo_a_paradise_for_tourists_who_want_to_take_a_look_at_old_japan/)

Ganso Sennari Monaka

Purveyors of traditional Japanese sweets, you can watch fresh dorayaki being made in front of your very eyes. They also offer cute, colourful monaka for only 100 yen each. A sweet traditionally served with tea, consisting of a jam filling (there’s a choice of flavours such as red bean paste or plum) sandwiched between crisp mochi wafers. A perfect souvenir of your time in Sugamo!

(link: https://haveagood.holiday/spots/290884)

 

Traditional Japanese Clothing

Although the vast majority of the clothes in Sugamo are geared towards a more mature market, if you want to buy some traditional Japanese wear there are bargains to be had. Old ladies know where to get value for their money. Yukata, which are light, summer kimonos can be found for unbelievably low prices.

If you want to know even more about Sugamo, read our previous blog about the market that takes place there!

(link: https://matcha-jp.com/cn/3997)

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Resident Interview: Witt Style Apricot Terrace, Sugamo with resident from Thailand

We met with Thidaphat, a resident in our Witt-Style Apricot Terrace shared house in Sugamo, Tokyo. The area is famous for having many traditional Japanese shops and a great street market scene.

Witt-Style Apricot

What interested you to live in a shared house?

Last year when I came to Japan, I lived in an apartment by myself. But when I came home, my only friends were the TV and radio and it felt lonely! I wanted people to talk and share things with. In my shared house, there are many people with different nationalities. When we all come back home, we can meet and talk.

 What is your favorite thing about living in Witt-Style Apricot?

Everybody in the house is very helpful and friendly. I try my best to practice Japanese with my housemates and even when it is broken Japanese, they patiently help correct my grammatical mistakes. Living with real Japanese people is such a cultural experience for me because I get to learn about their lifestyle. Especially the way they cook and eat- our main topics are about food! They also like Thai food, so we sometimes make plans to visit new Thai restaurants together. I also share Thai food with them when I cook. We have done “hanami” together and have takoyaki parties too. We have great friendships among international and Japanese housemates here.

Jizo Dori, the main shopping street in Sugamo

 How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?

I like everything around the house. The overall atmosphere from the station to the house is very relaxing and I really like walking in the area. There is a dorayaki (Japanese red bean pancake) shop I love and I buy one every morning for breakfast. I especially like the 4th, 14th, and 24th of every month because there is the Sugamo street flea market. You can find all kinds of things and food. This area fits my lifestyle because during the day, it’s so lively but at night, it’s very peaceful so I can study quietly.

Trying a nearby taiyaki shop for the first time

What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

 I like to take walks in the city and go shopping, especially in Harajuku.

 Has living in a shared space help or change you in any way? How so?

 I decided to live in a shared house in the first place to become more natural in using Japanese in daily life and living in this house has helped me a lot. For example, I’ve learned about the importance of greeting manners in Japan which is quite different from my home country. By sharing common facilities in the house, I’ve learned to be more considerate of others too.

Have you had any challenges in the house that you were able to overcome or resolve?

Nothing really so far but in the past, sometimes the housemates would have a little party in the dining area together at night. Some residents who were trying to rest let Tulip know about the noise and we received an e-mail reminder. If we have parties at night, we try to whisper “Kanpai!” and there haven’t been any problems since.

 Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

 I’m now a student and planning to stay here for another year. After that, if I can get a working visa and work in Japan that would be great.

Sugamon – the town mascot

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your shared house?

Shared houses are not bad at all if people might be thinking that. It’s very clean and just so much fun living with other people in this house.

 

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