From the airport, we took the bus to the Shinjuku Washington Hotel. We arrived at the hotel pretty early, just before 10:00 a.m., and hence we were not able to check in just yet. Coincidentally, one of Zaki's old friend invited him over to a hanami at Shinjuku Gyoen that afternoon. We left our luggage at the hotel and walked from the hotel to the park. There were literally thousands of people there enjoying the picturesque view of sakura in full bloom. It was quite an experience really to be able to view the blooming sakura in the park.
After the hanami, we returned to the hotel by taxi, as we were already too exhausted from the flight, lack of sleep and the walking (from the hotel to the park). After checking in at the hotel, I had a short rest before going out again for dinner with Zaki.
To sum up, the experience of being able to view the sakura on the first day was a rather befitting welcome for a first-timer like me. Hopefully, this memory will remain as something special and unique in the years to come.