Welcome, Spring . . . and Sakura-Flavored Everything

Springtime in Japan means the return of the beloved sakura (cherry blossoms) — on the trees and on the plate.

The blossoms are arriving about two weeks early this year. The trees in my Meguro neighborhood are already setting buds, and on my walk yesterday afternoon I spotted the first blossom of the year:

The first sakura blossom of 2021 (for me, at least)

When I stopped to take a picture, a woman walking next to me also stopped, looked up (to see what I was looking at) and startled.

“Sakura!” she exclaimed. “Honto desu ne? Hayai desu ne.” (“Is it really true? They’re early, aren’t they?”)

I agreed with her in Japanese: the blossoms are, in fact, early–but no less beloved. In fact, I’m looking forward to hiking this spring (especially after the near-total loss of the 2020 hiking season), and I’m happy to see the sakura return.

Sakura-flavored foods and beverages are all the rage in Tokyo (and across Japan) right now as well, and I have a roundup of the ones I’ve tried this year (with photos and reviews) up at MURDER IS EVERYWHERE today.

Sakura Okoshi – a traditional Edo (Tokyo) treat made with crispy puffed rice and peanuts

Click through to see more of these cherry blossom treats!