Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan 2018

Spring heralds one of the most anticipated events of the year popular with millions of Japanese as well as tourists from all over the world. Due to the limited blooming period, cherry blossoms are often thought of as a metaphor for the preciousness and ephemeral beauty of life. The art of flower viewing or “hanami” in Japanese is a cultural tradition that goes back centuries and during the season when cherry blossoms are in bloom, you will see parties of people sitting on picnic blankets underneath cherry blossom trees in parks, eating obento (Japanese style lunchbox) and drinking Japanese osake (wine). To get the most out of this spectacular event, knowing where to go for the best viewing experiences is a must. Below you can find a selection of the best cherry blossom locations across the country, sure to make for the perfect “hanami” experience.

Tokyo | Mt. Fuji Area | Kansai | Chubu | Hokkaido & Tohoku

 

Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen

Best time to visit: Mid March to mid April
Closest station: Shinjuku-gyoen-mae

One of the largest and most popular parks in the Tokyo area. It boasts over 1,000 cherry blossom trees which at the height of the cherry blossom season adorn the park in an exquisite light pink. Shinjuku Gyoen originated during the Edo period when it was first used as a feudal lord’s Tokyo residence. Due to its popularity, the park can become rather crowded so we recommend arriving early to grab a spot.

Ueno Park

Best time to visit: Mid March to mid April
Closest station: Ueno

Ueno Park is located close to Ueno Station and is home to over 1,000 cherry blossom trees in a spacious 133-acre park. Every year it draws in crowds of approximately 2 million people looking to enjoy the cherry blossom spectacle. As with Shinjuku Gyoen, it is recommended to arrive early if you’re thinking about having a picnic. In the evening visitors can look forward to lanterns that transform the surroundings into a cherry-blossom illumination paradise.

Sumida Park

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Asakusa

Sumida Park runs along both sides of the Sumida River and has more than 1,000 cherry trees. The area stretches from Azumabashi Bridge to Sakurabashi Bridge and has been a famous cherry blossom viewing spot for centuries. When in full bloom, the trees that line the river make for spectacular photo opportunities and are great locations for a spot of lunch or dinner while immersing yourself in the beauty of your surroundings.

Meguro River

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Naka-meguro

Meguro River is only a short walk away from Naka Meguro Station and is lined with over 830 sakura trees as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes. Taking a stroll under the many trees that line the river provides breathtaking views and in the evening, these same trees transform into a magical spectacle that lights up the night sky. As you walk further down from Naka Meguro to Ikejiri Ohashi, the river gets narrower and the cherry blossoms on both sides of the bridge form a beautiful arch ridge.

 

Mt. Fuji Area

Kawaguchiko (Fuji Five Lakes)

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Kawaguchiko (+ bus)

Kawaguchiko is arguably one of the finest locations for enjoying views of Mt. Fuji and the beautiful cherry blossoms at the same time. The main cherry blossom festival is held in the northern part of the lake where some of the most scenic views can be found. The cherry blossom illumination event takes place from sunset until 9pm. For the best photos, head out early when visibility levels of Mt. Fuji are at their highest.

 

Kansai Region

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Arashiyama

Arashiyama is located in the far west of Kyoto and has been famous as a cherry blossom viewing area for centuries, attracting many local and foreign tourists each year. The river banks near Togetsukyo Bridge and Nakanoshima Park also form ideal places for picnics. If you’re looking for something a little historical, Daikakuji Temple makes a great “hanami” spot with its large pond that is surrounded by cherry blossom trees. Other recommended spots: Tenryuji Temple, Hozu-gawa, Sewari-tei River Bank and Katsuragawa Ryokuchi Park.

Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Keage Station (for Nanzenji)

Philosopher’s Path ranks as the most popular place for cherry blossom viewing in the Kyoto area. In early April the place looks amazing as hundreds of cherry blossom trees line the approximately 2 km long pedestrian path which spreads from Ginkakuji to Nanzenji. As you walk along the path, it is possible to admire the variety of temples and shrines such as Honen-in, Otokyo Shrine and Eikan-do Zenrin-ji along the way.

Himeji Castle, Hyogo

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Himeji

Himeji Castle is considered Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle and is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site. The castle complex is over 400 years old and consists of over eighty buildings which are connected via gates and winding paths. In the spring, the castle grounds come alive with hundreds of cherry blossom trees that contrast beautifully against the backdrop of the castle.

Osaka Castle, Osaka

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Osakajokoen

One of the icons of the famous Kansai city, the grounds of Osaka Castle also comes alive in spring with thousands of blossoming trees. Other popular cherry blossom spots in Osaka include the Osaka Mint and Kema Sakuranomiya Park.

Mt. Yoshino, Nara

Best time to visit: Late March to early April
Closest station: Yoshino

One of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom viewing spots, the mountain is covered with around 30,000 different cherry blossom trees. Because there are so many different kinds of cherry trees here, the blooming season varies, which means even if you are a little late for the peak hanami season, you can still catch some late bloomers further up the mountain front.

 

Chubu

East Izu, Shizuoka

Best time to visit: Late February to early March
Closest station: Kawazu

If you’re an early bird, come and check out Kawazu’s famous cherry blossoms! These 8,000 cherry trees are found only in this area and bloom earlier than most other areas throughout Japan. The outstanding characteristics of Kawazu-zakura are its large petals and the bright pink colors. The annual Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossom Festival is visited by around a million Japanese and foreign visitors.

 

Hokkaido & Tohoku

Fort Goryakuku Park, Hokkaido

Best time to visit: Late April to Early May
Closest station (tram): Goryokaku Koen Mae

Fort Goryakuku Park is a large star shaped western-style fort which was originally constructed to protect Hakodate against the imperialist threat of the West. Fast forward to present day and it is used as a public park (founded in 1910) with over 1,000 cherry blossom trees running along the moats. Visitors can admire the light pink scenery on a walk or have a picnic here.

Hirosaki Castle Park, Aomori

Best time to visit: Mid to Late April
Closest station: Hirosaki (+ 15-minute bus ride)

Hirosaki Castle Park hosts one of the largest and most popular cherry blossom events in Japan, with 2 million visitors every year. The park is home to around 2,600 trees and has a variety of cherry blossoms such as weeping cherry and Yoshino cherry which come April time can be seem vibrantly blooming around the castle. With cherry blossom tunnels, “yozakura” (lit up cherry blossom at night) and boat paddling, the event ranks as one of Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites.

Kakunodate, Akita

Best time to visit: Mid to Late April
Closest station: Kakunodate

The quiet town of Kakunodate in Akita forms one of the most famous annual cherry blossom festivals in the region. There are two areas to view cherry blossom with both locations within close walking distance from the station. The first area is Hinokinai river where visitors can look forward to a beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms that span over 2km along the river bank. The second area is a street that is home to samurai houses. Here you can enjoy beautiful views of weeping willow-style sakura.

 

Don’t forget to also check out the diverse range of

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