Spring has officially sprung in the Northern Hemisphere and the cherry blossoms, also known as Sakura, in Japan are putting on their yearly show. So, if experiencing them has been on your bucket list for a while, now is your time to make haste. That is of course if you are not one of the people that can feel their eyes getting puffy from the photo above. We get it - stay home, allergies are the worst. How can something so pretty make you despise a season so much?? … Anyway, we digress. The delicate pink flowers only bloom for a short period of time, making it a truly special experience for those who are lucky enough to witness them.
We have put together a list of cities where you can view the blossoms as well as a few activities to enjoy while there.
One of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms in Japan is Tokyo. There are several parks and gardens throughout the city that are perfect for cherry blossom viewing. Some of the most popular parks include Shinjuku Gyoen, Yoyogi Park, and Ueno Park. In addition to cherry blossom viewing there are also several events and activities that take place during the season, including traditional tea ceremonies and hanami parties. Hanami means “flower viewing”, and it's a Japanese tradition of gathering with friends and family under cherry blossom trees, and enjoying a picnic or drinks while admiring the flowers.
Kyoto is another popular destination for cherry blossom viewing. The city is known for its many temples and shrines, many of which are surrounded by cherry blossom trees. One of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto is the Philosopher's Path, a scenic walking trail. In addition to cherry blossom viewing, there are also several traditional Japanese events and activities you can join such as traditional tea ceremonies or experiencing a geisha performance. Other places to see in and around Kyoto during your stay include the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Fushimi Inari Shrine (The 10,000 gates), and the Samurai & Ninja Museum to name a few.
Osaka is home to approximately 5,500 cherry blossom trees of 9 different species. Head to Osaka Castle Park where you can stroll through the groves of trees and take in the stunning views of the castle against a backdrop of pink flowers. The castle itself is a historic landmark and makes for a great photo opportunity alongside the blooms. Alternatively, head to Kema Sakuranomiya Park, a long, narrow park along the Ogawa River that is lined with cherry blossom trees and is particularly stunning during sunset.
If you are a foodie, you will love exploring Osaka's culinary scene, which is renowned for its street food with many street food markets to roam. In the spirit of the cherry blossom season enjoy Sakura-flavoured sweets and drinks, including sakura mochi (sweet rice cake wrapped in cherry blossom leaves) and sakura cake (cherry blossom flavoured cake). Osaka is also home to a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. The city has multiple party districts, each with its own unique vibe! There are also numerous museums and historical sites to explore, such as the Shitennoji Temple and the Osaka Museum of History.
In Hiroshima, Miyajima Island is a popular destination for cherry blossom viewing. The island is home to the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its floating torii gate, which makes for a stunning backdrop to the cherry blossoms. You can also take a stroll through Momijidani Park, which is home to many cherry blossom trees as well as numerous maple trees that turn fiery red in the fall. (Something to keep in mind if you missed the cherry blossoms or steer clear of spring blooms in general.
If you're looking for a more off-the-beaten-path destination, head to the Hirosaki Castle Park in Aomori Prefecture. The park is home to over 2,500 cherry blossom trees, including some of the oldest and largest in Japan. The park is also home to over 50 varieties of cherry trees! The castle itself is a stunning example of traditional Japanese architecture, and during the cherry blossom season, the moat surrounding the castle is filled with pink petals. Truly a picture-perfect park!
Maizuru Park in Fukuoka is home to over 1,000 cherry blossom trees and is known for its night-time illuminations as pictured above. You can also take a stroll through the historic streets of the nearby Daimyo district, which is lined with trendy boutiques and cafes.
No matter what you choose to do or where you choose to go, the cherry blossom season is a special time in Japan that is not to be missed. From the stunning beauty of the blooms to the delicious seasonal treats and cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So book your trip, grab your camera, and get ready to experience the magic of Japan's cherry blossom season.