The best places to view sakura as they open across the country
Japan’s cherry blossoms are it’s most iconic symbol of spring, and if you’re planning a trip to the country, plenty of people will tell you that the most beautiful time to come is during sakura season. But while we get three months of spring, the sakura themselves are only in full bloom for about a week or two. The blooming of the blossoms is such a huge event that the Japanese weather bureau release a cherry blossom forecast each year.
Sakura themselves are only in full bloom for about a week or two, beginning 25 March 2020
This year, the season is a few days earlier than usual. Whilst the season is very short, you can follow the blossoms from south to north as the country gradually warms up. The Japanese people celebrate this time of renewal by having hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties with friends, under the trees.
On the islands of Okinawa, at Nakijin Castle you can enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms at night with fantastic illumination on the castle. Further north, Kumamoto Castle has Kumamoto city’s most popular cherry blossom spot. Nearly a thousand cherry trees are planted across the castle grounds and in the adjacent public parks. Korakuen Garden in Okayama is ranked as one of the top three gardens in Japan – absolutely gorgeous in spring. Miyajima Island is one of Japan’s three most famous scenic spots. After a walk to the top of the hill, you can see the big red pagoda poking through a sea of pink trees. Just near Todaiji Temple at Nara Park the wide lawn is covered in cherry blossoms and plenty of deer roaming freely. Koyasan in Wakayama prefecture is stunning in cherry blossom season – one of the many good reasons we run our fully escorted World Heritage and Kumano Kodo Cherry Blossom Tour there each year! Continuing north, the world heritage listed village of Shirakawago is bathed in gorgeous colours as the cherry trees flower from mid April to early May. In Ishikawa prefecture, Kenrokuen Garden, also one of the top three gardens of Japan, is popular for a different sort of cherry blossom called kikusakura – full looking white petals, brushed with a soft pink blossom, resembling a chrysanthemum.
There are many parks in Tokyo to experience hanami. A rental boat is available at Inokashira Park in Tokyo and visitors enjoy paddling on the large pond surrounded by pink sakura. Kamakura‘s temples such as Kenchoji have magnificent views of cherry blossoms, an ideal day trip from Tokyo. Another great day trip from Tokyo is to Hakone, where you can ride the “pirate ship”on Lake Ashi or take a cable car over the mountains and have an amazing view of Mt Fuji whilst surrounded by sakura.
Further north in Akita, Kakunodate Samurai District is a very interesting place. It’s wide streets and large courtyards are shaded by dozens of weeping cherry blossoms which bloom in early May. Goryokaku Park in Hokkaido offers great views from Goryokaku Tower and a night illumination. Three hours from Sapporo, Takinoue Park has a beautiful Shibasakura Festival where the entire hillside in coloured pink.
As you can see, no matter where you wish to travel in Japan, there are no shortages of hanami spots! Spring is a wonderful time of year to travel to Japan. The weather is cool, flowers blooming and there is a wonderful sense of new beginnings.
We currently have availability on our fully escorted Cherry Blossom Trail and Last Samurai Tour and World Heritage and Kumano Kodo Cherry Blossom Tour departing in March. These are wonderful small group tours that travel a little off the beaten tourist track and visit many hanami viewing locations.
Our Japan Holidays consultants have spent a lot of time in Japan and can advise you of many other interesting places to see the cherry blossoms, just ask us – we’d love to create an itinerary to suit you and your family’s requirements.