IF you like Japan's cherry blossom season but hate waiting for your turn at the best selfie spots, or losing a good viewing spot to other sakura chasers, the answer lies in Osaka. Imagine just checking into your own hotel room and looking out the window to enjoy lush views of flora that will satisfy you till next spring.
The Imperial Hotel Osaka isn't just a place for you to experience omotenashi or genuine Japanese hospitality - it's also one of the top cherry blossom viewing spots in the country. It sits right on the banks of the Okawa River, which runs for several kilometres, with 4,000 to 5,000 cherry trees bursting with colour for your viewing pleasure. If you must join the crowds and get up close and personal with the flowers, Kema Sakuranomiya Park is within walking distance of the hotel. Osaka Castle is also nearby, with its own collection of trees. Otherwise, just gawk from the comfort of your classically furnished room with all the trappings of genteel Japan.
The hotel isn't the most convenient if you want shopping centres at your doorstep. But you barely notice that because a shuttle bus takes you right to Osaka station every 15 minutes on the dot - so efficient that you can time your shopping sprees right to the last minute. The station is the epicentre of the city so just about any department store is within a short walk.
Like its sister hotel in Tokyo, the Imperial has that old world feel, retro but elegant. You can get crisp sophistication from an international chain hotel, but the Imperial's charm lies in the way it is firmly entrenched in Japanese culture while maintaining a global outlook.
Imperial Hotel Osaka
8-50, Temmabashi 1-Chome, Kita-ku,
Osaka 530-0042. Tel: 81-6-6881-1111