Springtime means cherry blossoms. You don't have to fly to Japan or go to the Festival in Washington, D.C. to see them in all their glory. We discovered these beauties in our own backyard at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, PA. Even a 17th century-style Japanese Samurai house sits placidly among the sakura. We avoided the big festival crowd and visited the day before, having all the color, splendor, and peace to ourselves. Having visited Japan many times, this felt just like being there. The local Japanese thought so too.
We toured the house, where I explained things like why we take our shoes off before going inside, how a Japanese squat toilet works, and how sleeping on a tatami mat can actually be comfortable. Tea ceremonies are offered there throughout the year for an extra charge.
The cherries, magnolias, and daffodils were all in full, perfect bloom. Soon the azaleas will be out. The rest of Fairmount Park offers nearly 10,000 acres of open space for the family to enjoy. It is very popular with runners and cyclists. The Philadelphia Zoo is nearby. Also, the city is just minutes away, where you can feast on a very un-Japanese but totally Philadelphian cheesesteak.