Free Sakura app means cherry blossoms could be blooming on your monitor right now

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As of yesterday, it’s officially cherry blossom season in Tokyo, with media outlets reporting the first flowers of the year spotted inside the capital. While we’re still a week or two away from the sakura being in full bloom, their incredibly short life span means they’ll be gone before you know it, so most people are looking to spend as much time watching the delicate pink flowers as they can in the coming days.

Much as we’d like to, though, most of us can’t spend all of the next few weeks stretched out on the grass under a cherry tree. But should you find yourself stuck in front of a computer monitor with work or social responsibilities to take care of, you can still soak up a bit of the cherry blossom atmosphere with this app that produces a cloud of sakura petals on your desktop.

Developer Studio-Kura doesn’t throw any curveballs in the naming of its newest Mac app. The program is called Sakura, and that’s exactly what it gives you.

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Given the short window in which cherry blossoms bloom, it’s always a roll of the dice what sort of conditions you’ll be able to see them in. The Sakura app gives you a bit more control, though. By adjusting a series of sliders, you can increase or decrease the volume of petals flittering down from the top of your monitor, adjust the force of the wind blowing them about, and even make the pink flowers more opaque or translucent, depending on your preferences. There’s also a toggle that allows you to choose whether the sakura appear in front of or behind inactive windows.

Previously, Studio-Kura had been distributing the program directly, but Sakura is now available here on the Mac App Store, free of charge. Just be careful not to spend so long staring transfixed at the beautiful virtual cherry blossoms that you miss your chance to see the real ones.

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Photo Essay: 21 of the most beautiful Japanese cherry blossom photos of 2014

 

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Image credits: 紅襪熊

The delicate pink sakura, or cherry blossom, is associated primarily with the culture of its native Japan. These trees blossom throughout Japan every spring, but their beauty never gets old, so we’ve collected some of our favorite photos of this year’s cherry blossoms in Japan.

In Japan, the blossoming of the sakura begins in April, when students go back to school or people go back to work after the holidays. Japan’s national weather service even tracks the movement of the “sakura front,” which is an imaginary line that travels south-to-north every season and heralds the blooming of the sakura. This line’s progression in Japan is marked on this convenient sakura calendar.

The cherry blossom is tied to the ancient Japanese tradition of hanami, or picnicking under a sakura tree. The fact that the cherry blossom has heavily featured in ancient Japanese art has made it a staple of both historical and modern Japanese aesthetic. Although it is also native to China and Korea, it is generally associated primarily with Japanese culture, which is why it often accompanies the Japanese diaspora into cities around the world.

While sakuras are probably best viewed with a Japanese castle, mountain or garden in the backdrop, they might also be planted somewhere in your city as well. They provide a great opportunity to go have a beautiful springtime picnic!

 

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Photo Essay: 21 of the most beautiful Japanese cherry blossom photos of 2014

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Image credits: Masato Mukoyama

 

 

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Six sensational Starbucks in Japan for sakura spectators

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With the earliest varieties of cherry blossoms already starting to bloom around Tokyo, it’s almost time for sakura season to get into full swing! It’s Japan’s most enticing time to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of nature! There’s just one little problem, though.

So if you’re torn between feeling immersed in Japanese culture and feeling anything in your toes, here are six Starbucks locations where you can relax with a warm cup of coffee while gazing at the cherry blossoms just outside the windows.

 

1. Ueno Onishi Koen / 上野恩賜公園店

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Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Ueno Koen 8-22
東京都 台東区 上野公園8-22
Open 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Website

Starting off with one of Tokyo’s most popular spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties), Starbuck’s has a location inside Ueno Park. While tables indoors will give you a view of the blossoms, there’s also ample seating outside, and on afternoons from March 29 to April 6, employees will even be working coffee carts in front of the building to help process to-go orders as quickly as possible.

2. Kagurazakashita / 神楽坂下店

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Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 1-9-2, Hedenaga Building
東京都 新宿区 神楽坂1-9-2 秀永ビル
Open 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Website

Long a center for intellectuals and expats, Starbuck’s Kagurazaka branch is located close to the major rail hub of Iidabashi Station. Grab a seat, enjoy the view of the cherry tree-lined Kandagawa River, and relax with the knowledge that this branch stays open extra late.

3. Kamakura Onaricho /鎌倉御成町店

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Kanagawa-ken, Kamakura-shi, Onaricho 15-11
神奈川県鎌倉市御成町15-11
Open 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Website

Heading south from Tokyo into Kanagawa Prefecture, you’ll come to the city of Kamakura, which served as the capital of Japan from 1192 to 1333. While the Onaricho branch of Starbucks hasn’t been around nearly that long, it does have a more recent historical connection, as the coffee house stands on the site of the former home of comic artist Ryuichi Yokoyama, best known for his title Fuku-chan which saw an animated adaptation in the early 1980s.

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Aside from displaying Yokoyama’s artwork in the shop’s interior, the late artist’s garden’s pool, wisteria, and cherry tree have been left as they were when his house still occupied the lot. The sakura here bloom from mid-April to early May, and are especially beautiful when their falling petals create a carpet on the surface of the pool’s water.

4. Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku / 京都烏丸六角店

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Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Rokkaku-dori, Higashitoin Nishiiri Donomaecho 254
京都府京都市中京区六角通東洞院西入堂之前町254
Open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends and holidays
Website

Going from one former capital of Japan to another, this branch in Kyoto offers a fantastic view of Rokkakudo Temple, said to have been founded in the ninth century. Not only can visitors appreciate the structure’s unique architecture while sipping their lattes, from next week, they’ll also have a chance to see the temple’s expansive sakura tree.

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5. Toyama Kansui Koen / 富山環水公園店

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Toyama-ken, Toyama-shi, Minatoirefunecho 5
富山県富山市湊入船町5
Open 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Website

Toyama City, on the coast of the Sea of Japan, is a bit off the beaten path for most travelers. Should you find yourself there in sakura season, however, it’d be worth your time to head over to Kansui Park, where the local Starbucks’ floor-to-ceiling windows also provide a view of the adjacent canal and Tenmonbashi Bridge.

6. Miyajima Service Area (Southbound) / 宮島サービスエリア(下り線)店

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Hiroshima-ken, Hatsukaichi-shi, Kamitaira 293 Miyajima Service Area Kudarisen
広島県廿日市市上平良293宮島サービスエリア(下り線)
Open 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Website

Finally, motorists passing through Hiroshima Prefecture may want to pull off,  stretch their legs, and grab a drink at the highway rest stop (or “service area,” as they’re called in Japan) just north of Miyajima, the island is considered one of the three most beautiful places in Japan. Not only are there cherry blossoms right outside the Starbucks, there’s also a dog run, so you can enjoy a cup of java, some quality time with man’s best friend, and one of the most breathtaking views in the country all in one fell swoop.

Source: Starbucks Japan Official Blog

 

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Six sensational Starbucks in Japan for sakura spectators