I read somewhere once.. perhaps a lonely planet guide book, that Shinjuku gyoen's cherry trees escaped a campaign to cut down cherry trees during the struggle between the imperial forces and troops allied with the Shogun in the mid 1800s. The cherry blossoms were symbolic of the shogun (he imperial family is represented by the chrysanthemum). Whatever the reason, the trees in Shinjuku ARE older and bigger, truely magnificient. Though we arrived after 3pm, when it was cooling off and people were streaming out of the park, the inside was still busy.
I often marvel at the Japanese ability to behave well in a crowd. (with the glaring exception of WW2 which I will put to once side and perhaps come back to in the future). There must have been more than a hundred thousand people in Shinjuku gyoen yesterday - probably signifantly more, based on my Sydney festival concerts in the domain. In Tokyo it wouldn't surprise me if there had been more than a million people out and about picnicking and hanami-ing. And yet, it was all so civilised; no abuse, no fights, not even pushing and shoving.... Even though there was a copious amount of alcohol being drunk, I saw no anti social behaviour other than a man peeing behind a tree outside Shinjuku gyoen... and given the length of loos for the queue, it didn't seem like much of a transgression, even in daylight.
Well done Tokyo!
Not cherries but flowers by the moat near the Imperial Palace
Flowers outside Shinjuku gyoen
Cherry blossoms (not the regular kind)
Shinjuku gyoen, a different type of cherry tree.