Monday, April 4, 2016

The sakura tourists of Tokyo

It's sakura season, the time of year when the (frankly ugly duckling) cheery trees come out in bloom. Over the previous few weeks in the spring time of Japan, the colour of the the flora of Japan has been tuning from brown to white in a pedestrian stroll from south to north. And then the hotels became full. For the first time, hanami parties are bringing in the tourists and Tokyo is looking for a little extra space. Japan's 2020 vision of twenty million tourists has already happened. And largely in the last week of March / first week of April.

At first this was a little surprising. Why would tourists want to arrive in droves and see the cherry blossom? Stay at home and a wave of colour and scent will slowly cross your own township. And then talking to the hotels in and around Tokyo, it became clear, the tourists aren't from Japan, they're from overseas. And this is one of the most incredible times of year to see the sights. So forget about temples, Fuji and sushi, come see Japan when every village is something special.

Of course that means there wasn't a hotel room to be had for love nor money this last weekend. Cheep and cheerful, business and luxury alike, they've all been maxed out to capacity. Which makes you wonder, Japan as a country is at capacity with twenty million visitors. Paris alone manages more than that on an annual basis. The world will applaud Japan focussing on increasing global communication and cultural integration. But where exactly are they all going to sleep?

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