Springtime means cherry blossoms and pleasant weather. What better place to experience this than spending spring in Japan!
Japan is known for a lot of things: cutting-edge tech, the Shibuya crossing, Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and more. Traveling to Japan is definitely an experience of a lifetime, but when you go during spring, it will change your life. If you do plan on going to Japan during the cherry blossom season, here are ten things you can do during that time, (besides seeing the cherry blossoms). Here are magical things to do during spring in Japan:
Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Also known as “the roof of Japan,” is a route that passes through Mount Tateyama in the Japanese Alps. The full route extends from Dentetsu Toyama to Shinano Omachi. This route is only open during springtime and here’s why: during the winter there is an immense amount of snow that falls onto the mountains. Once spring has arrived, the route opens to the public and people are able to travel through the beautiful mountain range. Opens April 15, 2019.
It also aims to be the world’s foremost ecological tourism site with the use of electrical ‘green’ vehicles to keep emissions as low as possible. Visit Shomyo Falls, the tallest waterfall in Japan. During spring, the 500 m Hannoki Falls appear along with the snowmelt.
There is also a road that is open mid-April until May in the Alpine route that is right in between a wall of snow. “Yuki-no-otani” snow wall attracts awe-struck travel lovers as the snow piles up high. This route is approximately 90 km long, or 55.9 miles long. You are able to climb the mountains but be sure to be well prepared before the climb. Don’t forget to visit Mikurigaike (pond), one of the most picturesque spots for a stroll at Murodo. This is a crater lake of Tateyama Volcano.
Miyako Odori Festival, Kyoto
During spring, the cherry blossoms bloom. It’s one of the biggest events in Japanese culture, so big that there are festivals that welcome the newly bloomed flowers. One of the festivals is the Miyako Odori, which is one of the four great spring shows in the five Geisha districts within Kyoto, Japan.
During the Miyako Odori Festival, the geishas of Kyoto, apprentices or more experienced, perform their cherry blossom dances. The dance is well known throughout Japan for their elegance and grace in their movements. It’s like telling a story with their body. The Geisha traditionally perform at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo theater but it has been closed for refurbishment since 2016, so for the 2019 festival it will take place in the Kyoto’s Minamiza Theater. The performances will take place from April 1-27, three times a day at these times: 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
Hanging Wisteria of Ashikaga Flower Park
While cherry blossoms are the most popular flowers to see in the springtime, it doesn’t mean it’s the only type of flower that appeals. In Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture, there is Ashikaga Flower Park, which features different colored Wisterias. Wisteria is called Fuji in Japanese.
At this park, you will find a large fuji tree that is 100 years old that contains large amounts of blue fuji flowers. The branches on the tree are supported to create a huge umbrella to make the fuji flowers hang. There are also white fuji flowers, which can be seen in a long tunnel. There are other flowers that are blooming within this park, but the fuji flowers are what create this park.
This festival dates back to 1635. It is an annual festival of the Hartisuna Shrine and to this day is held every year on the first weekend of April in the greater Nagoya area. There are many highlights within this festival, one of them being the 13 three-layered floats. That’s right, there are 13 floats. Each float is three layers and is 25 feet in height. Japanese flutes and drums play in these floats and are paraded around the area. What makes this festival even more enchanting is when you see all 13 floats at night. Each float is lit by 365 lanterns and its light, along with the cherry blossoms, make unforgettable scenery.
Climb Mount Yoshino
In Japanese, this mountain is known as Yoshinoyama. This area is perfect for seeing the trees change color during the autumn and spring season. Cherry blossoms are a big event in Japan and here at Mount Yoshino, it is considered the mountain of cherry blossoms. Home to 30,000 trees, they are considered sacred and closely associated with Shugendo, a form of Buddhism.
Because you’re able to climb the mountain of cherry blossoms, you will get to hike with a view every step of the way. The hike is entirely on a paved road and it takes about 2.5-3 hours to reach the top of Mount Yoshino, Aonegamine and is 400 meters in elevation. Or simply relax in one of the several onsen baths with a view in the area. Where: About 90 minutes south of Nara Park by rail.
Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park, Hokkaido
Japan in spring sees many types of flowers blooming. Tulips are one of the many beautiful flowers that bloom in spring and there is a park dedicated to it: The Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park. Apart from the different kinds of tulips, you can also visit the Kamiyubetsu tulip fair which takes place every year from May 1 to early June.
There are about 1,200,000 tulips of 120 different kinds. Together all these tulips create a colorful, rainbow field. If you find that you want to take some tulips of your own, you can! For 100 yen per tulip, you can dig up a tulip, or tulips, and take them home. The park resembles that of the fields in the Netherlands, so it almost feels like you’re in Europe! This area is perfect for taking photos and making wonderful memories.
Fuji Motosuko Resort, Yamanashi
The Fuji Motosuko Resort offers many beautiful sights, one of them being the Yamanashi area. Within the Yamanashi area are six other different areas: Isawa Onsen Koshu and Winery area, Kofu and Shosenkyo Gorge area, Yatsugatake area, Minami Alps and Kunoji Temple area, Fujisan and Fujigoko area, and Otsuki and Linear Chuo Shinkansen area.
At the Isawa Onsen Koshu and Winery area, you can enjoy delicious wine from their local wineries. This area has the highest peach and grape production in Japan. At both the Kofu and Shosenkyo Gorge and Yatsugatake area, you can experience the wonders of nature. Kofu and Shosenkyo Gorge are more of a sightseeing experience and at the famous Shosen Gorge is where you’ll really be one with the surrounding beauty of mother nature. The Shosen Gorge is a nationally designated special place of scenic beauty. The Yatsugatake area is for Mount. Yatsugatake with its main peak Mount. Akadake at 2,899 meters. This mountain has a very powerful view, it will surely take your breath away. At night, you can gaze at the stars and admire the gorgeous view. This is not something you can experience in urban areas.
Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo
At the Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo, you can walk into different types of gardens: English Landscape, French Formal, Japanese Traditional (with teahouse), and Mother and Child Forest. When the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the central lawn areas are surrounded by beauty. It almost feels like you’re in a wonderland!
You can take a stroll, have a picnic, or even hop into one of the many stores located here! There is a massive complex that sells Japanese tea sets and stationery and next door is a Kinokuniya bookstore. You can find all sorts of books here, including Manga. If you are into more traditional activities, head on over to the Japanese Traditional garden. Here you will find an old-style teahouse on a pond. This is definitely a calming experience!
Hirosaki Castle Park, Tohoku
Hirosaki Castle used to be a five-story tower but was unfortunately burnt down when it was hit by lightning. It was rebuilt as the three-story tower that is seen today. Despite its rebuild, it is the only remaining castle tower build from the Edo period. Not only is the castle famous for this, but it is also famous for its cherry blossoms with over 2,600 trees which is the largest scale in Japan. This area is a perfect place to go on a romantic stroll, for picnics, and stunning photos.
Daigo-Ji Temple, Kyoto
Known as the Temple of Flowers, the Daigo-Ji Temple is a World Heritage Site that spreads across Daigo-san Mountain. Upon entering you will find many important architectures. One of them is the Sanboin which was the former residence of the head priest that was originally constructed in 1115. The current building that stands today dates back to 1698 when it was reconstructed and expanded for Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s cherry blossom viewing party.
You’ll then find yourself at the Shimo Daigo which is where most of the other buildings stand. At 38 meters tall, the oldest verified building is the five-storied pagoda which was built in 951. Located here is also the Reihokan Museum. It is an elegant treasure house which preserves and displays the temple’s collection of historic documents and art. Last but not least is the Kami Daigo which a trail that is around the summit of the mountain. It takes about an hour to climb the steep trail through the forest. Worth it – for spring in Japan is that pretty!
Be sure to check out these destinations next time you plan your spring in Japan trip!