By far one of the best decisions we made during our 6 month backpacking trip was to visit Japan during cherry blossom season. During the few weeks in which 'sakura' paint Japan in colors of pink and white, the Japanese practice that art of 'hanami' which basically means enjoying the cherry blossoms. The Japanese get some food, some sake and find a nice spot under the many cherry blossom trees. There are tons of places around Japan with cherry blossoms--even from the train the countryside is covered in cherry blossom beautifulness.
We got our 'hanami' on in Kyoto...twice! And both times were more than a success. The first one we found by mistake (and was our favorite). Down the street from the Golden Pavilion, we found ourselves walking through a park completely covered with cherry blossom trees. There was sake, there was sushi, there was gyoza and potato salad, and there were lots and lots of laughs. The fact that our friends Ross and Cheryl flew from California to meet us in Japan for 2 weeks made the experience even better.
The hanami parties were some of our favorite memories in all of Asia. And then we ordered more sake ;).
*Head to the nearest grocery store and BYO food and wine
*It seems that the city sets out mats on the grass for anyone to use freely, find a spot and mingle ;)
*We arrived late in the afternoon and didn't leave until after dark. The cherry blossoms are beautiful during the day, at sunset and at night when the lanterns are lit up at night