COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns have people down. Restaurants and bars are empty as nightlife has mostly ground to a halt. Residents have few options available to relieve cabin fever and pent-up boredom. Making matters worse, as springtime comes and cherry blossoms bloom, Japan is beginning to see a resurgence in the infectious respiratory disease.

Indeed, this is particularly bad timing. Hanami parties, cherry blossom viewing parties, are an essential part of Japanese culture. The festivities mark the beginning of spring and are a celebration akin to the Fourth of July in America. Party-goers typically arrive early at their favorite park or castle garden to stake out a spot. Friends and family come later in the day, bringing snacks, bento boxes, frisbees, footballs, and of course, some alcohol.

As the afternoon turns into evening, picnickers enjoy an exuberant atmosphere of springtime jubilee. As a foreigner, this is one of the few times I notice most Japanese people breaking out of their typically reserved facade. Strangers freely approach you, offering drinks while practicing their English. In short, it's a fun time every year.

Nevertheless, social distancing has effectively crashed the party. Government officials are warning against the traditional party. Even those defying the suggestion do so cautiously adorning medical masks while respecting personal space. Ominous loudspeakers disparaging parties and prolific warning signs are also dampening spirits.

Cherry Blossom Parties From the Convenience of Home

Anyone with an internet connection can experience a high-tech hanami this year. There are several live cameras broadcasting videos around the clock from famous cherry blossom parks and destinations.

(Editor's Note: Some of the live cameras have been disabled since the article was written.)

At Miharu Takizakura Park, several cherry blossom trees are over 1000 years old. These ancient sakura trees are of the Shidarezakura kind, a weeping-willow type of cherry blossom. They get their name from their bent-over, "mournful" stature.

Takada Jyoushi Park, formerly Takada Park, is another famous spot. The park is home to about 4000 sakura trees of the Somei Yoshino type. It is one of the three most renowned cherry blossom viewing spots in the country.

In the middle of the area is Takada castle, the famous stronghold of Tokugawa Ieyasu's son, Matsudaira Tadateru. Although built in only four months, the structure is quite magnificent and connected by the Gokuraku, paradise, bridge. The Takada Jyoushi Park live stream incorporates several vantage points. As such, the camera angle changes every 10 seconds. On clear days, the live stream offers an excellent view.

This last live feed streams from in front of the Higashi Honganji temple. While the feed overlooks a street, it also centers on several sakura trees as well as the historic Kyoto temple. The temple is said to aid worshippers in finding the meaning of their lives. During these uncertain times, perhaps everyone could use this type of guidance.

Cherry Blossoms Delivered to Your Home

Residents are also taking advantage of the hanami lockdown to spruce-up their homes with cherry blossoms. Website is offering sakura blossom bouquets available for home delivery. While only available during the cherry blossom season, the service offers premium cuts of sakura. Among the most popular are the Somei Yoshino and Yokozakura type.

To make sure the blossoms last throughout the lockdown, several kinds are available. offers buds and other blooming conditions, available upon request, to ensure that customers can enjoy the flowers to their fullest extent.

The bouquets come complete with a vase and a life-extending agent as well. As such, they are ready to be displayed upon delivery. There are several sets on offer:

  • Sakura S set, height 60 cm, 16,500 JPY ($153)
  • Sakura M set, height 80 cm, 22,00 JPY ($204)
  • Sakura L set, height 100 cm, 38,500 JPY ($357)

The website also offers an in-house visit by a professional florist. Available only in the Tokyo area, the consultation runs 88,000 JPY ($815). While it's not cheap, the much-needed springtime cheer will undoubtedly be worth it.

Sakura Snacks and Sake

If you're anything like me, a cherry blossom picnic—or any picnic for that matter—isn't complete without a little bit of liquor. It's a party, after all.

In Japan, several liquors and sake are available that incorporate the blossom into the brew.

You can also make it home:

Kit Kat is famous in Japan for its eclectic mix of flavors. Only available here, there are green tea, soy sauce, edamame, and many other unusual kinds. This time of year, the sakura sake flavor is a must-try.

And if you're still not satisfied, TabiEats covers almost the entire gauntlet of sakura treats in their YouTube video. They review a sakura jello-type snack, pancake sandwiches, chocolate cake, and much more.

By - Luke Mahoney.