Cherry Blossoms And A Japanese-Inspired Toronto Experience

on April 24, 2013
Photo provided by David Allen (highparkphotos.ca)

Photo provided by David Allen (highparkphotos.ca)

What better way to welcome spring than with freshly-bloomed flowers?

The Sakura (Cherry Blossom) trees in Toronto’s High Park attract thousands of visitors each year – and the delicate blossoms only last about a week to ten days. This year, they are estimated to bloom around the first week of May (photo below taken April 22, the buds just starting to turn green).

Green buds (April 22, 2013)

Best of all – it’s free! But you’ll want to get there early to beat the crowd. And the best way is to take public transit: The TTC subway to High Park station – or if you prefer a more scenic route, the 506 Carlton streetcar.

First planted in 1959, the cherry blossoms were a gift to Toronto from Japan. Japanese hanami or “flower viewing” parties date back hundreds of years.

But why stop there? There are many great ways to extend your Japanese-inspired experience:

Food:

  • Sushi 930: take-out only, but one of the best!
  • Guu: must-try (at least for the atmosphere)
  • Okonomi House Restaurant: Japanese pancakes
  • Kinton, Stantouka, Sansotei, and Raijin: ramen noodle soup, try it with a side order of karaage (fried chicken)
  • Manpuku: serves takoyaki (octopus balls)
  • Tokyo Kitchen: good variety with a home-cooked feel

Pick up a souvenir:

  • The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s “Annual Bazaar” takes place May 4, 12:30-4pm
  • Sanko: Japanese groceries and gifts. Make sure to try the onigiri (riceballs wrapped in seaweed)

More to see & do:

  • The Japan Foundation’s Nihongo Art Contest 2013 Exhibit (April 26 – May 8)
  • The CanAsian Dance Festival (April 28 – May 12)

Don’t forget to check out our feature on Washington’s National Cherry Blossom Festival.