It’s spring time in Japan which means one thing, the first sakura (cherry) trees are blooming throughout the country. Starting in the month of March, the bursting cherry blossoms in Japan begin to bloom in Kyushu in the south and then the bloom gradually advances north to the main cities of Honshu in early April.
The cherry flower season usually begins in late March to early April. During this time, the country celebrates their bloom and soak in their annual beauty.
Here are the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan:
Mt Yoshino, Nara
In mid-April, thousands of cherry trees form a fluorescent drape that slowly ascends into the mountainsides of Mt Yoshino in Kansai. Mt Yoshino is regarded as one of top destinations for cherry blossoms in Japan.
The mountain got its beauty from when the Japanese had a custom of planting cherry trees at the Zao-do Hall of Kinpusen-ji Temple and their seeds were replanted in Mt Yoshino. When April comes an estimate 30,000 cherry trees start blooming from the foot of the mountains displaying a majestic landscape of flowers for a month until it reaches the peak. Flowering season is from early to late April.
Getting there: Hop on to the Yoshino Ropeway from Yoshino Station (Kintetsu Yoshino Line) to Yoshino-yama Station. Mt Yoshino is in Nara. From Tokyo: To Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Nozomi), and 35 min from Kintetsu Kyoto to Kintetsu Nara by Kintetsu Kyoto Line.
From Osaka: 35 min from Kintetsu Namba to Kintetsu Nara Station by Kintetsu Nara Line (rapid express).
Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the city’s largest parks in all of Tokyo. The Shinjuku Gyoen Garden is the home to the samurai Naito family and was later given the status of an Imperial garden, and finally a national garden in 1949. The national garden has been an ideal site to view the cherry tree blossom since the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Flowering season is from late March to late April.
Getting there: 10-min walk from JR Shinjuku Station (Yamanote Line), or exit at Shinjuku-gyoen-mae Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line).
Uen-koen is famous for being one of Tokyo’s ideal sites for hanami (blossom-viewing). During the evening more than 1,000 cherry trees are lit up along the street towards the National Museum – magical! The cherry trees make the park very popular with guests for parties and picnics. Flowering season is from late March to late April.
Getting there: 5-min walk from JR Ueno Station (Yamanote Line).
Imperial Palace Park, Kyoto
The Imperial Palace Park of Kyoto is the perfect site for picnics, exercising, and any nature enthusiast. During the spring, the inner sanctum of the Palace is opened to the public as the grounds is rich with a huge variety of flowering trees and open fields.
Also, the oldest park in Kyoto, Maruyama Park is renowned for its massive lament of cherry trees blooming in early April. The cherry trees are better viewed at night and attract beauty enthusiast as the trees continue to bloom to the end of April before the trees diminish to green.
Philosophers’ Path, Kyoto
The Philosophers’ Path is a trail from the Ginkaku-ji Temple to the Wakaoji-jinja Shrine where the trail is engulfed in a vista of cherry blossoms. The fallen cherry blossoms petal floating on the lake water add to the beautiful ambiance as trekkers soak in the history at the temple and shrine.
Daigo-ji Temple, Kyoto
The Daigo-ji Temple is located in the southeast of Kyoto and is located on top of Mt. Daigo. In 1598, the great daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered 700 cherry blossoms to be planted for a spring, majestic party for him and 1,300 guests. Since then, the cherry blossoms attract scores of people. Hideyoshi designed the Sanpo-in-teinen Garden with a waterfall and an island so he could fully enjoy the blossom in late March.
Built in the 17th century, Kumamoto Castle is regarded as one of the most famous castles of all Japan. The unparalleled elegance of the cherry trees beautifully contrasts the castle’s black and white tower. The different types of cherry trees such as the yama-zakura and Higo-zakura make the square garden in front of the castle an ideal spot for cherry blossom viewing.
Also, the castle is an iconic popular site in Japan as it is the home of the Kumamoto City Museum, the Kenmotsudair Botanical Garden and the Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Centre.
Peace Park, Nagasaki
Peace Park is located in Nagasaki, an area dedicated to the memorial of Nagasaki’s atomic bombing disaster. Peace Park’s 500 cherry blossom trees lighten up the somber ambience creating a perfect congruous experience for late March to early April visitors.
After the Nagasaki disaster, scientist predicted the area would be sterile for 70 years however a month later sakura trees began to spring which makes the visit even more special. Flowering season is from late March to early April.
Getting there: Matsuyamamachi tram stop for Nagasaki Peace Park.