Spring may still feel far away, but in Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture – just one hour from Tokyo by bullet train – it won’t be long until the region’s cherry blossoms are due to arrive. Shizuoka sees some of Japan’s earliest cherry blossoms each year, making it the perfect destination for travellers looking to get an early glimpse at the beauty of Japan’s most famous blooms, known as sakura.

Travellers from far and wide visit Japan every year to appreciate the iconic pink and white flowers, with most of Japan seeing the blossoms in March and April which usually last for approximately two weeks. However, in the Shizuoka prefecture the distinctive Kawazuzakura blossoms, with their large, deep pink petals, appear from early February and can last up to a month.

Just one hour from Tokyo by bullet train, Shizuoka prefecture is home to the iconic Mount Fuji. It boasts a spectacular natural environment of coastline, mountains and lakes including the beautiful Izu Pensinula, which has been described as “Japan’s Riviera” and was designated as a Global Geopark by UNESCO in April 2018. The region is steeped in history, has a huge choice of traditional ryokan inns and onsen hot springs, and is also a gourmet paradise. Its natural environment produces some of the country’s best food and drink, from green tea and wasabi to fresh seafood. In fact, Shizuoka is Japan’s biggest producer of both green tea and wasabi.

To help travellers plan the perfect Shizuoka sakura trip, Tourism Shizuoka Japan has rounded-up some of the best places in the prefecture to experience this natural spectacle.

Oigawa Railway spring japan

Oigawa Railway

The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival (February to March*)

From early February to early March, the banks of Shizuoka’s Kawazu River are lined with almost 8,000 striking pink sakura trees in full bloom, creating a beautiful sight to behold. To honour the trees, Kawazu holds an annual cherry blossom festival.  Stalls offer sakura crafts, local foods and even the opportunity to buy sakura seedlings and plants while in the evening, light displays illuminate the trees, adding to the magic of the occasion. Attracting over 1 million visitors each year, this festival is one not to miss!

Lake Tanuki – Sakura and Japan’s iconic mountain (Early April to Mid-April*)

Home to Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka is the perfect location to capture the glorious sight of cherry blossom against the backdrop of Japan’s most famous mountain. A visit to Lake Tanuki in Fujinomiya City offers a picture-perfect opportunity to capture the beauty of over 300 sakura trees and the majestic presence of “Fuji-san”. For another opportunity to combine a cherry blossom experience with Mount Fuji, visitors can head to Osezaki, which offers spectacular views across Suruga Bay.

Spectacular viewpoints from Atami Castle (Late March to Early April*)

Atami Castle, which sits at over 120 meters above sea level, provides spectacular views of the seaside resort of the same name, and Sagami Bay.  It offers fascinating exhibitions on Japan’s history, culture and castles, making it a popular destination for travellers all year round. In spring,

Atami comes alive with the colour of cherry blossom and Atami Castle is one of the best places to view this from above.

Hamamatsu Castle with Cherry blossoms (Hamamatsu City) Photo provided by Shizuoka Prefectural Tourist Association

Hamamatsu Castle with Cherry blossoms (Hamamatsu City)

Hamamatsu Castle (Late March to Early April*)

Situated on the renowned and historical Tokaido route, which connects Tokyo with Kyoto, Hamamatsu Castle is a must-visit at any time of year. At the end of March and beginning of April, visitors to the Hamamatsu Castle Park can picnic under the 350 fully blossomed cherry trees that surround the castle, the perfect way to combine history and natural beauty.

Ieyama Station and the tunnel of Sakura (Late March to Early April*)

Perhaps one of the most-popular photography spots in Shizuoka during spring is the one-kilometre long tunnel of pink cherry blossom close to Ieyama Train Station. Here you can take in the eye-catching pink flowers and snap a photo of a traditional steam train as it passes through.

Sakura Mt fuji Japan's Earliest Cherry Blossoms

Sakura, Mt Fuji

Longer blossom seasons in the foothills of Mt Omuro (Sept to May*)

Travellers to Sakura-no-Sato Park at the foot of Mt Omuro can enjoy the sight of cherry trees in full bloom at any time between September and May. The 40,000m² garden features 1,500 blossoms in 40 varieties, including the Jugatsu Sakura (October cherry blossom) and Sambagawa Fuyu Sakura (winter cherry blossom), making it a must-visit destination all-year-round.

With its earlier, and sometimes longer blooming periods, Shizuoka is the perfect place to discover the beauty of Japan’s renowned sakura and start spring in style!

For more information on where to see Japan’s earliest cherry blossoms, please visit: www.exploreshizuoka.com/

* The blooming period of cherry blossom each year is dependent on a number of factors and can therefore vary.