MACHIDA City is located in the western part of Tokyo, which is about 30 minutes of train ride from Shinjuku, is said to be the “new power center of Tokyo,” via the Odakyu Rapid Express, or close to an hour by the slower Semi-Express train.

It’s just a one bus ride from Narita or Haneda airports to this young city founded in February 1, 1958.

Machida, my host’s city of residence, was the base for my Japan visit for the cherry blossom season.

I liked how small the city's (about 72 square kilometers in area with the economy geared towards the college crowd.) busiest area is concentrated around the train station, like a smaller version of the metropolitan Tokyo wards.

All preferred tourist destinations are within walking distance.

It made shopping in the upscale department stores (there’s a 109), traditional Japanese shops or discount boutiques, enjoying the local cuisine in charming restaurants, or having a sip of tea or coffee in the specialty shops more convenient.

Some of the city’s popular attractions are the Museum of Graphic Arts, Furusato Museum of Agricultural Tools, Machida Chuo Library, the Squirrel Park, Yakushi-ike Park, and the September-celebrated Machida Eisa Festival which is regarded as a big event.

But my host, Henry, knew what I was my purpose in my visit and just like he promised, he took me to a couple of spots in his city to view the sakura.

One Street is one of Machida’s historic walking areas. It’s a long walk under the cherry blossom trees, I was told.

Unfortunately, the sakura bloomed early in this part of the city. There were only a few left on the branches lining the street. Judging by the number of mature trees

lining the very long walking path, One Street is indeed a beautiful place to be at this season’s peak.

The second place I was taken to was breathtaking, and heavenly, It was the Ondagawa River.

The Ondagawa flows through Machida City. For most of the year, it’s a nice place for a scenic stroll under the shady banks of the river.

The place transformed into a heavenly clouds of pink petals during spring.

I caught Ondagawa River at its season’s best. The flowers of the 400 cherry trees flanking the riverbanks, stretching into two kilometers, were in full bloom.

The trees’ branches were reaching out to the river as if wanting to touch the waterway with its cotton-soft fingers. To say it was enchanting would be an understatement.

This was my first encounter with sakura at the peak of its bloom.

And yes, this one removed one of my entries in my bucket list as I took my walk under the clouds of blushing petals.

Seeing the volume of the crowd, Ondagawa River is a popular destination among the tourists during the sakura season.

It's the perfect place for a hanami, but the area has a limited space where tourists can spread picnic mats. However, we had to call ours a “strolling hanami”, and this was already enough for me.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com.

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