Springtime in Japan means that the cherry blossoms (locally called ‘sakura’), come into full bloom. These stunning pink flowers are only in full bloom for a short period each year, so it’s no surprise that tourists and locals alike flock to cities across Japan to see them. The Japanese even have a name for the act of cherry blossom viewing- hanami.
But where are the best places to see cherry blossoms? And when’s the best time to see cherry blossoms?
According to the Japan Meteorological Corporation, cherry blossom season is at its peak from late March to early April, blooming first in southern Japan. Narrow down your travel plans with this list of the top places and times to see cherry blossoms in Japan this spring 2018:
Two of the best locations for sakura viewing in Kyoto are Philosopher’s Walk and Maruyama Park. Check these spots in style with a rickshaw tour along the charming streets. Or, hop on the Sagano Romantic Train in Kyoto and take in the views of Arashiyama cherry blossoms from a traditional train.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: April 5 – 11
Blooming starts: March 31
Stop for a picnic at Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo and gaze at the cherry blossoms overhead. Make your way to Ueno Park to walk the tree-lined pathways or head to Chidorigafushi, a lush park where you can paddle boat underneath cherry blossoms. Conveniently make your way to Ueno Park and other top Tokyo attractions with a hop on, hop off bus tour.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: March 29 – April 4
Blooming starts: March 21
Osaka might be the best place for sakura viewing in all of Japan! It’s home to Kema Sakuranomiya Park where you can marvel at the 5,000 cherry blossom trees. Behold the abundance of pink flowers before you journey over to Osaka Castle where you can catch sight of sakura in a striking, historic setting.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: April 5 – April 11
Blooming starts: April 1
Nara Park is known for its adorable deer (they even bow to you- how polite!), but the park is also bountiful in sakura. Wander through the park and check out the cherry blossoms surrounding the shrines and temples that boast intricate architecture. If you’re staying Osaka, head out on this day tour to see some of Nara’s most popular attractions.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: April 6 – April 12
Blooming starts: April 3
If you’re heading to Hokkaido now, you can enjoy scenic ski hills and picturesque views of snow-capped mountains but come spring, you can roam around parks boasting cherry blossom trees throughout. Head to Maruyama Park and pay a visit to Hokkaido Shrine while you’re at it or admire flowers from Moerenuma Park.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: April 29 – May 4
Blooming starts: April 27
Make the most of the cherry blossom season by skipping the large cities, and spend a day of ‘hanami’ in Fukuoka. Enjoy a romantic walk around the ruins of Fukuoka Castle and see thousands of cherry blossoms surrounding the area. Witness fields of flowers and about 2000 sakura trees planted at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. Climb up to Atago Shrine, which sits on a hill that overlooks Hakata Bay. Take in the views of blue waters below and of course, gorgeous cherry blossoms.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: April 1 – April 7
Blooming starts: March 25
Fuji Five Lakes (Mt. Fuji)
See the iconic Mt. Fuji enveloped by vibrant cherry blossoms when you visit the scenic Hakone area.Visit Oshino Hakkai, a scenic small village with charming ponds with views of cherry blossoms and Mt. Fuji. If you’re hoping to get in some ‘hanami’ time earlier into the season, head out on a day tour of Mount Matsuda.
Best time to see cherry blossoms: March 31 – April 6
Blooming starts: March 25
Cherry blossoms are a stunning sight to behold. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to catch sight of Japan’s sakura this spring 2018.
(feature image via Yoshikazu TAKADA, flickr)