Sakura matsuri, or cherry blossom festival, is recognized all over Japan in April — but with such a short bloom period (just a few weeks), locals and visitors are forced make the most of the splendid show for as long as possible. Not only is sakura the national flower of Japan, the cherry blossoms also take on added spiritual meaning in the context of Buddhist themes of mortality, mindfulness, and living in the present moment. “Japanese cherry blossoms are a timeless metaphor for human existence,” said Hayashi. “Blooming season is powerful, glorious and intoxicating, but tragically short-lived — a visual reminder that our lives, too, are fleeting.”
When my husband and I planned our first adventure to Japan, we knew that we wanted to visit during the most festive time of the year – sakura season! Although everything from flights to hotels are a bit more pricey during this popular time of year, we both agreed that it was worth every penny to spot the blossoms in full bloom for just a moment in time, a moment we will never forget. To formally celebrate sakura festival, we planned a fun and active day of cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo’s most famed park – Ueno Park. We strolled along paths lined by trees lit up with the pink blooms exploding into the sky, air and starting to scatter to the ground like party confetti. I’m telling you ladies, these flowers do not last long. From there we even enjoyed a brief swan boat ride, an activity the park is popular for.
And for the ultimate sakura experience, we joined our friends at the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills and made our way to the 52F Rooftop Bar for their annual Sakura Dinner. Overlooking Tokyo Bay and the city lights, Andaz’s 52F Rooftop Bar is one of the most popular spots for a special spring getaway and the best views of the city. Featuring everything from a sakura tree-filled terrace to flower-inspired selection of foods, desserts and drinks, this event was the perfect way to embrace the spirit of sakura in a luxurious setting. The special hanami course included sushi, Japanese beef sirloin, lobster bisque, caviar and a sakura-inspired dessert buffet. Sipping on the lobster bisque and tasting savory caviar was such a rich dining experience for the taste buds.
Starting with the park and ending at the best rooftop in town, all human senses were stimulated in the celebration of sakura festival. From the mesmerizing visual beauty of the blooms to the sugary tastes of pink champagne and cherry filled sweets. And to experience this celebration all to the backdrop of bustling city sounds that make Tokyo so vibrant, can you think of a better way to celebrate the premiere season in Japan?
Thanks to my friends at the Andaz Tokyo for inviting us to this memorable sakura celebration! For more on this amazing travel experience and the rooftop at the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills Hotel, scroll on down below for insider photographs capturing our sakura celebration in the park to the premiere rooftop in Tokyo.
Rooftop Bar at Andaz Tokyo
Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills is located between Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace, offering easy access to key locations, including the Ginza shopping district, Tokyo Station and various cultural attractions. Crowning the hotel on the 52nd floor, the Rooftop Bar at Andaz Tokyo creates a great mood and vibe for cocktails with the semi open-air terrace overlooking the spectacular view of the Tokyo skyline.
Fruits are used at the peak of the season and teas are sourced with the upmost respect to premium Japanese tea culture. The menu reflects strong seasonal and indigenous influences, with creative and passionate mixologists developing a limited selection of signature cocktails. While the bar doesn’t focus on a big menu, they put all efforts into showcasing and enhancing the delicious fruits, teas and ingredients used with appreciation for each season.
The design of the bar reflects the essence of Japanese life philosophy. The main area of the bar is separated into different spaces with variation of ceiling heights, providing the right ambient for each guest’s personal choice. It ranges from an intimate tea lounge area, to the dramatic setting of the high ceiling bar and terrace, with a more cosmopolitan vibe. For the ultimate rooftop in Tokyo, I highly recommend checking out the Rooftop Bar at Andaz Tokyo! And if you happen to be in town or plan a trip around the cherry blossom season, you should make a reservation for the annual sakura dinner hosted here at the Rooftop Bar.