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The cherry blossoms bloom once in a year and they last only for a period of two weeks. The typical bloom cycle is usually between March and April.
The best two places to witness the cherry blossoms are in Tokyo and Kyoto. And they should be the mid-late March and early April. In case you do have the time, it’s best if you stay for around 10-14 days to be sure of catching these in their full bloom at their best. We’ve given a more in depth breakdown of the predicted forecasts for various regions further below.
A world of pink which only lasts for 2 weeks. To make sure you know everything about the Cherry Blossom season, we’ve come up with a 6000+ words monster guide that enlists the best times to visit Japan for Cherry Blossom viewing, best spots, cherry blossom forecast & everything that you need to make the Cherry Blossom viewing a memorable experience. Lets jump right in!
As mentioned above, the average peaks blossoms bloom for around 14 days. This usually starts in the beginning of April around 4th, but in the past cherry blossom occurrences have been witnessed as early as March 15th and even as late as April 18th.
a) Ueno Park : This park is famous for its cherry blossom blooms in Tokyo. The trees are even said to bloom a little earlier than most of the other places in Japan. It has been a popular cherry blossom destination since the 16th century. This park is usually always crowded, so if possible, get there early to beat the rush.
b) Shinjuku Gyoen National Park : This garden with an area of over 58 hectares is considered as one of Tokyo’s best cherry blossom viewing spots. Over 1,100 Japanese cherry trees bloom here. The entry fee is 200 yen.
c) Chidorigafuchi : This is one of the most scenic spots for Cherry Blossoms (sakura) . You could rent a boat and snap pictures up close of the blossoms. Or you could walk through the sakura tunnel in the evening where the trees are illuminated below the tinted lights. And the entry is free.
A few other touristic spots to view the Cherry blossoms in Tokyo are: Sumida Park, Yoyogi Park, Meguro River,Koishikawa Botanical Garden, Inokashira Park.
a) Sankeien Garden: This garden covers over 175,000 square meters which is well known for it’s seasonal beauty and historic houses that date back to the 1400s. You’ll find a lot of bridges, streams, bamboo groves and ponds in this region.
b) Mitsuike Park: This is a special Korean garden in the middle of Japan. It contains two walking trains, tree ponds and has over 1500 cherry trees. The reflection from the ponds makes for spectacular photos. The place is also child friendly with slides and various obstacle courses.
c) Negishi Forest Park: This little known park in Yokohama is also one of the largest with a surface area covering around 1800 square meters. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji. If you want to spend a few hours in this place, you should bring your own food, as there aren’t a lot of food stalls.
a) Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine: This is an important shrine in the geographical center of the city of Kamakura, Japan and also a lot of trail gates along the way. Flanking the main approach to the shire are two ponds, both representing two different clans. The pedestrian path in the center of Wakamiya Oji street is lined with several hundred cherry trees. Enry is free but a museum visit costs around 200 yen.
b) Genjiyama Park: This park was built to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Kamakura era. It’s quite well known for its hydrangeas, autumn leaves and of course, the cherry blossoms. The shrine is also a popular location for prayers for luck, academic success and marriages.
c) Kamakura Daibutsu: Also known as Kōtoku-in, this is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kamakura. It is well known for its great Buddha statue which is around 11.4 meters tall and dates all the way back to 1252. Imagine getting to watch the cherry blossoms with the great Buddha.
a) Kawazu: This cherry blossom festival is held yearly from early February to March. It attracts around two million visitors annually as it is one of the earliest opportunities to witness the cherry blossoms in its full bloom.
Night time illuminations are held as a part of this festival. There are over 8000 trees in this region. The location is only 2 and a half hours drive from Tokyo.
a) Chureito Pagoda: This is a five storied pagoda on the mountainside. It overlooks Mount Fuji in the distance and was built as a peace memorial in 1963. Hundreds of cherry trees bloom here during the cherry blossom season. Apart from being picturesque, photos clicked here tend to showcase the spiritual side of Japan.
b) Northern Shores of Kawaguchiko: The Lake Kawaguchiko is the most easily accessible of the Fuji five lakes with train or bus directly from Tokyo.
Mount Fuji is located in the western end and the best view of this majestic mountain can be viewed from the northern end. This area is also a great base to start your climb to Mount Fuji. There are also hot spring baths, various museums and amusement parks.
c) Ubuyagasaki Peninsula: A small group of cherry trees on the Ubuyagasaki Peninsula next to the Kawaguchiko Ohashi Bridge are particularly well placed for nice views of Mount Fuji in combination with Lake Kawaguchiko and cherry blossoms. Most of the images you find of Mt. Fuji in brochures and guidebooks are usually taken from this location.
The other options available are Iyashi no Sato and Oshino Hakkai.
a) Takasaki Castle Ruins and Takasaki Park: The Takasaki castle ruins and the park have collectively over 400 cherry trees. The area also has ample space making it a hotspot for picnics & cherry blossom viewing parties. During the Cherry Blossom season, festival food stalls are set up around the park and the trees are lit up in the evenings for a colorful viewing experience.
b) Takasaki Kannonyama Park: Takasaki Kannonyama Park is a large, forested park in the mountains to the west of Takasaki’s city center. The park is home to a 42 meter high statue of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, as well as a few hundred cherry trees. During the cherry blossom season, the park holds illuminations in the evenings.
c) Akagi Senbonzakura: Akagi Senbonzakura is located about halfway up Mount Akagi to the north of central Maebashi. It features a 2km long road lined with over 1000 cherry trees that form a beautiful cherry blossom tunnel when it blooms. Pink moss in the open fields beside the cherry trees also bloom at around the same time, combining with the cherry blossoms to provide breathtaking views of various hues of pink.
A few other notable parks for Cherry Blossom viewing are the Shikishima Park and Maebashi Park.
a) Matsumoto Castle: Matsumoto Castle is one of the most beautiful of Japan’s original castles. There are about 300 cherry trees planted around the castle moats and inside the paid inner grounds of the castle. The parks and the grounds are spacious and perfect for a stroll. It is only a 5 minute bus ride from the JR Matsumoto Station.
b) Koboyama Park: Koboyama Park is a unique hill (actually an ancient kofun tomb) in southern Matsumoto City that is almost entirely covered by nearly 2000 cherry trees. The top of the park has views of the Japan Alps across the valley and there many nice spots for hanami picnics. Various flowers such as hydrangeas and lilies also bloom here. This makes it popular all throughout the year.
c) Joyama Park: Joyama Park is a park on the hills north of Matsumoto’s city center with some impressive rows of cherry trees and a lawn area. They also have built a platform which offers a panoramic view of Matsumoto.
Another location you could definitely check out in Nagano Prefacture is the Alps Park.
Takada Castle: This beautiful spot has over 4000 cherry blossoms and it is illuminated at night with lanterns. The Sakura Road is a path lined with cherry blossoms and during the Cherry Blossom season, the entire road is lit up with a variety of events being held.
Kenrokuen: The season officially begins around the first week of April when the first cherry blossoms appear. The kenrokuen garden is amongst the top three garden landscapes in Japan and it offers visitors an amazing view throughout the year, which only gets better during the cherry blossom season. The admission into the garden is usually free and the park hours are usually from 7am-9pm.
a) Yamazakigawa Riverside: This comes up amongst few of the top 100 best cherry blossom viewing spots world wide. It has a 2.5 kilometer stretch of cherry blossoms along the river with their branches dipping towards the river surface below. Even though it’s popular at anytime of the year, the hanami season is one of a kind. The easiest way to get here is via the Mizuho Undojo Nishi Station.
b) Nagoya Castle: This is a must visit sightseeing and popular cherry blossom spot with over a thousand cherry blossoms. It’s beautiful in the day time and at night the streets are covered with light. The traditional Japanese music, the sound of birds and scenic beauty make this place something you cannot miss.
c) Tsuruma Park: This park with over 750 cherry blossoms is a popular viewing spots among couples and families.
This public park offers many food stands and a ton of space for cherry blossom viewing using these beautiful trees.
Another place worth checking out in Nagoya is the Nagoya Peace Park.
Hikone Castle: Over 1,100 cherry blossoms light up this area making this castle absolutely beautiful at this time of the year. One can either take a pleasure boat ride or travel around the castle moat for another view. And as always the nighttime light-up of these cherry blossoms during full bloom is another experience as compared to the one you had in the morning.
a) Philosopher’s Path: This is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. When these cherry trees explode during the cherry blossom festival, it makes this one of the most romantic cherry blossom spots in the city. This path is around 2 kilometers long. Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, was said to practice meditation while walking this route everyday.
b) Maruyama Park: This is a public park in the Higashiyama District. When the cherry blossoms bloom, the park becomes one of the most popular destinations in Kyoto. The main attraction is the weeping cherry tree, shidarezakura, in the middle of the park which gets lit up at night.
c) Arashiyama peak: A large number of temples and shrines are scattered widely across this area. You can deeply appreciate the scenic beauty of this region. Over 1,500 cherry blossom trees are planted along Katsuragawa River and it is illuminated at night. This place is just a 13 minute walk from the Saga-Arashiyama Station.
A few of the other well known Cherry Blossom spots in this region are Heian Shrine, Haradani-en Garden and Okazaki Canal.
a) Kema Sakuranomiya Park: In case you do decide to visit Osaka during the cherry blossom season, this park along the river banks should be amongst your first destinations. The nearest stop for getting here is the Osaka station.
The walk in the direction of the Osaka castle is ideal and the entire journey takes around 40 minutes.
b) Osaka Mint Bureau: Line with 300+ trees, the bloom here occurs a bit later compared to most of the other places in Japan. The gates of the garden are opened to the general public for one week in mid April when the cherry trees are in full bloom. It’s a 10-minute walk from the Temmabashi station.
c) Osaka Castle: With over 4000 cherry trees in and around the castle, this is a popular picnic spot. One can check out the castle’s western citadel with wide lawns and the views of the castle tower in the evenings are really pretty when lit. The entry fee is free except in the evenings when it lights up, it’s 350 yen.
You could also check out the Expo 70 commemorative park, which was the former site of the 1970 world exhibition.
a) Nara Park: With over 1700 cherry trees across the park and over a thousand deer in the region, the Nara park is stunning and peaceful. It’s close to the Kintetsu Nara Station and the admission is free.
b) Heijo Palace: This 8th century UNESCO World heritage draws in large crowds during cherry blossoms that typically bloom in early April.
c) Wakakusayama: This majestic mountain rises at 342 meters. But unfortunately, access to it is available only during spring and fall to protect its herbs which are then burnt every year in January. It is around 45 minutes drive from JR Nara Station.
Mount Yoshinoyama: This area has been Japan’s most popular viewing spot for many centuries. Many of the trees planted here along the slopes are over 1300 years old and the area is home to over 30,000 cherry trees of many different varieties. This place is divided into four different areas based on the position on the mountain range.
Himeji Castle: In late March to mid-April the cherry blossoms that surround this area bloom spectacularly and transform the famous castle into one of Japan’s most cherished cherry blossom viewing spots. This place is a 5 minute bus ride from the Himeji Station. The only downside being that this season is when the castle is also the most crowded. To avoid the crowd, you should try arriving before the lunchtime rush.
a) Handayama Botanical Garden: This botanical Garden located in a hilly area near downtown Okayama city houses has over a thousand cherry trees that covers the entire mountain. The 110,000m^2 garden is also a place where you can witness over 3,000 varieties of 150,000 plants throughout the year. So in case you don’t make it in the peak bloom season, you can still find a wide variety of plants here.
b) Korakuen Garden and Okayama Castle: Both these locations are beside each other, so in case you do check out one, you should check out the other. This garden is one of the most well known and celebrated gardens in Japan and was created as a symbol of samurai power. The garden has many tea plantations, flowering plants and about 300 cherry trees. The Okayama castle has around 200 more cherry trees.
c) Takebenomori Park: This is an open, spacious park in the hills north of Okayama, around 30 minutes drive from Okayama station and a perfect spot for hanami activities. You’ll find a lot of walking paths lined by weeping cherry trees. A few of the other trees that bloom later on provides the park visitors with hanami opportunities throughout the rest of the month.
a) Tottori Castle Ruins: This beautiful park is one spot you cannot miss for cherry blossom viewing in Tottori. Over a hundred cherry trees of various varieties bloom here, including both of the famous Yoshino and Sato varieties. On foot, this is a 30-minute walk from Tottori station.
b) Fukurogawa River: Even though there are a lot of cherry blossoms along the riverbanks in Japan, canoeing through the river while watching the blooms can be a surreal experience. One can also opt to walk along the trail which follows the river. This place is a ten minute walk from the Tottori railway station in the direction of the Tottori castle.
c) Inaba Senbonzakura: Senbonzakura translates to “a thousand cherry trees” and Inaba is the old name of the region. This park is perfect for hanami picnics. Even though there aren’t a thousand trees in this region, there are hundreds which can be admired.
a) Hiroshima Peace Park: Located in the central Hiroshima city, this was built to commemorate all those who died in the atomic bombing as a testament towards world peace and harmony. Around 300 cherry trees are planted around the park and along the river. This is right beside Genbaku Domu Mae tram stop and entry is free.
b) Hiroshima Castle: With around 450 trees planted around this reconstructed castle, which was destroyed during the atomic bombing on August 6 1945, these grounds are magical in their own way. The best cherry blossom viewing party spots can be found around the castle keep. There is no entry fee in case you want to walk around the grounds, but entry to the castle is paid.
c) Shukkeien Garden: This 16th century Japanese garden in the city of Hiroshima was designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty in 1940. Oh and yes, it’s also famous for its cherry blossoms and plum blossoms. It costs around 260 yen for adults to enter. The garden is a unique circular tour style that emerged in the Muromachi period.
d) Hijiyama Park: This is a huge city park, perched on top of a hill which overlooks the entire city. Around 1300 cherry trees are planted all around the park in small packs. It is an ideal spot in case you want to have a small cherry blossom party with your loved ones.
a) Ritsurin Koen: This garden is one of the most well known historical gardens in Japan and is considered one of its main attractions. A lot more trees and lawned areas for picnics are found in the western end of the park. It’s a 3 minute walk on foot from JR Ritsurinkoen-Kitaguchi station. It has around 350 cherry trees in this garden. The admission charges are 410 yen for adults, and 170 yen for students.
b) Takamatsu Castle: The Tamamo Park was made in the ruins of the Takamatsu castle. This castle faces the seto inland sea and is also one of the three major water castles in Japan. During the cherry blossom season, the park is open to the public for 10 days. Around 350 cherry trees are found in this area. And if you want to avoid the crowds, it is recommended that you visit in the morning.
c) Megijima Island: This is an island 4km off the coast of Takamatsu city. If you catch a ferry it’ll take you around 20 mins to get here. Hundreds of cherry trees are planted around the mountaintop park of Meijma’s tallest peak, which is a 10 minute walk from the cavern and it’s well known for the 500 cherry blossoms planted around it. There’s a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view on the top.
You can also check out Konpira Shrine in Takamatsu.
a) Matsuyama Castle: This is a famous tourist destination throughout the year, and yet during the cherry blossom peak it transforms into a site that is packed with tourists who genuinely appreciate the flowers. This castle is perched on top of a small hill and the scenery over here is a feast for your eyes. The best way to go to the castle would be by the cable car that runs all the way to the top.
b) Dogo Park: A park over which you could either walk around or over in close to 15 minutes. It is the site of the long vanished Yuzuki castle. Part of the castle includes bullfrogs, lilies, turtles and kingfishers to name a few. The observation platform at the top offers a magnificent panoramic view of Matsuyama, the castle and the Seto Inland sea.
c) Matsuyama Sogo Park: If you’re late to see the cherry blossoms in Matsuyama castle, head out to this park as the cherry trees are known to bloom a bit later. This is located around a kilometer west of the Matsuyama station. On the top of the hill, you’ll find a multi-storied observation deck in the shape of a western fortress with a great view over the city.
a) Fukuoka Castle: The ruins of this castle is in the grounds of Maizuru Park, among a thousand cherry trees which are planted here. This area provides a lot of space for hanami parties and spectacular views from the platform on the main citadel from which you can observe the entire area.
b) Uminonakamichi Seaside Park: Around 2000 cherry trees are planted around this spacious ground which lies along a long, narrow peninsula which is in the north of the city. Because of the size of the park, it would be easier to rent a bicycle which is around 400 yen for three hours, which is more than enough to get around the entire park.
c) Nishi Park: Amongst the top 100 best cherry blossom spots in Japan, with over a thousand cherry trees on the hillside park, this place is well known for the Terumo Shrine. The park provides a lush green space for picnics. The few plum trees interspersed between the cherry trees bloom slightly earlier but no less spectacularly.
a) Suizenji Koen: This beautiful landscape has around 150 cherry trees along with a central pond and a grass covered replica of Mount Fuji. You’re allowed to picnic only in specific areas of the park. But as the cherry blossoms bloom early, they have their seasons cut short.
b) Kumamoto Castle: This castle is widely regarded as among the most impressive castles in Japan, even after being damaged significantly during the earthquakes in April 2016. With around a thousand cherry trees planted across the castle grounds and it’s adjacent public parks it draws massive crowds of people throughout the year and especially during the cherry blossom season.
a) Mikamine Park: This park is a huge, open green lawn surrounded by hundreds of pink cherry trees which start blooming from the mid to late-April each year. Take the Nanboku subway line to Minami Nagamachi Station from Sendai Station. From here, it’s a 23 minute walk, or a cab would take you 8 minutes. Getting in is free of charge and the park is perfect for a lazy evening stroll.
b) Tsutsujigaoka Park: This is a public park in central Sendai and very close to the east of Sendai Station. The park has a lot of space for cherry blossom viewing parties which can be found all along the walkways and underneath the trees. It has over 1000 sakura trees, and the best time to be here is from the mid february to late April.
c) Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park: This is a mountain side park in Matsushima and the 260 cherry trees planted on the hillside here usually bloom several days later than those around Sendai. The panoramic overlook of the Bay makes this one of the best places to see cherry blossoms. This park also has a cafe with beautiful views.
a) Hanamiyama Park: This is a beautiful flower filled park perched on top of a hill in Fukushima City. This park has humble beginnings, from growing flowers in the 1920s as a means of making a living but now has become one of Fukushima’s most celebrated cherry blossom viewing spots. There are over ten different types of flowers in this region.
b) Shinobuyama Park: This is a spacious public park on a forested hill north of central Fukushima city. There are a lot of trees on top of the hill and observation decks with views over the city. The park covers the entirety of Mount Shinobu and also has several small parks. And it has around 300 cherry trees scattered around the roads and trails through the park.
a) Kitakami: This place has one of the largest number of cherry blossoms planted alongside the Kitakami River, around 10,000 cherry trees. It blooms usually in late April, and the beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms. You could also catch one of those sightseeing boats that depart from the resthouse at the south end of the park. Its a 20 minute ride and costs around 1300 yen per person. Worth it.
b) Kakunodate: This is one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in Tohoku region. Over a million people visit Kakunodate every year. The Hinokinai riverbank is a great location for hanami picnics under the blossoms. The history of the park dates from the 1600s when it was built by local samurai families.
a) Fort Goryokaku: A star shaped citadel, this which was built in the final years of the Edo Period with over 1,600 cherry blossom trees. The best place to experience and observe the fort is from atop the observation tower called Goryokaku Tower. You can visit the tower from anytime between 8am to 9pm and the entrance fee is 840 yen. You can get to this park either by bus, tram or on foot.
b) Hakodate Park: Hakodate is one of the first ever western style parks found at the foot of Mount Hakodate. With several hundred cherry trees around it’s path, fountain, mini zoo and a children’s playground. The city museum is present here on the park’s grounds. The number of food stalls in the region along with the cherry trees is a view you won’t forget anytime soon.
c) Odori Park: A 45 minute train ride into the city can get you to Odori Park, and you’ll get to see the park’s pretty spring flowers and the cherry blossoms. You could also visit Sapporo TV tower which is at the end of the park. This park is also well known for the annual snow festival. Other parks in the area specifically for cherry blossoms include Moerenuma Park, Kawashimo Park, Maruyama Park, Hokkaido Shrine and Shimokawa Park. While you’re in this city, you could check out Sapporo Beer Museum, Hokkaido Shrine and the historical village of hokkaido.
Cherry Blossoms are the symbol of the arrival of spring, a time of renewal and the fleeting nature of life. This is an event which brings people joy and to make them understand the importance of time as these blossoms only last for 2 weeks. The samurai of feudal Japan took these blossoms to simultaneously realise the inevitably of death and to release any fear of it. It also acts as a cultural symbol of hope and renewal.
It is also symbolizes good fortune, love, affection and an enduring metaphor for the fleeting nature of mortality. Even the samurai held great admiration for the flowers, since the samurais were considered to have relatively short lifespans and also as the flowers represented drops of blood.
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