When it comes to taking a vacation during Spring, what do you look for in a destination? Do you consider the country’s climate, traditions, family-friendly facilities and activities, or the cuisine your top priority? For me, I would like to experience colours that mother nature has to offer – crystal clear blue sky, warmer climate, trees in bloom – bidding lifeless winter goodbye. The top destination on my mind is none other than Japan, which basically has it all.
Every Spring, the land of the rising sun put on a flower show, its visually arresting sea of pink and white has captivated hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to experience the fleeting beauty, also known as Hanami Festival (Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival). After all, cherry blossom is Japan’s national symbol and there is even a national association for it.
February is Japan’s coldest month. To experience the beauty of Spring in Japan, the best time to visit is between mid-March and early May.
Here’s a roundup of where to enjoy a sea of brilliant blossoms in Japan.
When and Where to see Cherry Blossom in Japan
1. Kumamoto (21 Mar – 31 Mar)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Kumamoto Castle, Suizenji Koen
Kumamoto Castle is situated on a hilltop and one of the best cherry blossoms viewing spots ranked by the Japan Cherry Blossoms Association. The Kumamoto Castle is possibly the largest and tallest castle in Japan. There are close to 800 cherry blossom trees within the castle grounds. The soft pink blooms contrast against the distinctively striking black facade of the castle is definitely an insta-worthy sight.
2. Fukuoka (21 Mar – 31 Mar)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Fukuoka’s Atago Shrine, Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot among families with children. There is an amusement park with rides and games within the same vicinity. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a charming and peaceful location to enjoy Hanami, try Fukuoka’s Atago Shrine which offers panoramic vistas of Fukuoka city from the top of the hill.
3. Hiroshima (22 Mar – 1 Apr)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Hijiyama Park, Miyajima Island
Besides the ever-popular Five-Storied Pagoda on Mijiyama Island, Hiroshima, try Hijiyama Park which offers a panoramic view of the city. For the culture buff and art lovers, there is a library and Japan’s first public modern art museum within the park.
4. Osaka (25 Mar – 2 Apr)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Osaka Castle, Kema Sakuranomiya Park
Like many others, you’ll probably be at Osaka Castle grounds. We recommend making your way down to Kema Sakuranomiya Park, which is approximately a 30-minute ride from Morinomiya Station (nearest station to Osaka Castle) on JR Osaka line. Located on the river terrace between Kema Araizeki and Temmabashi Bridge, Kema Sakuranomiya Park has close to 5,000 cherry blossom trees. You can also choose to go on a mini cruise along the river to take in the sights of endless blooming trees.
5. Kyoto (23 Mar – 1 Apr)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Heian Shrine, Maruyama Park
Heian Shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the founding of Kyoto, formerly known as Heian. The premise was inspired by the Imperial Palace.
6. Nagoya (20 Mar – 30 Mar)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Yamazakigawa Riverside, Inuyama Castle
If you’re in Nagoya, don’t miss Yamazakigawa Riverside, one of the top 100 cherry blossom viewing locations ranked by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association. Hundreds of cherry blossom trees in bloom like pink fluffy clouds massing over the Yamazakigawa river banks, it is definitely an insta-worthy sight!
7. Kanazawa (31 Mar – 6 Apr)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen Garden
A famous landmark in Kanazawa, the castle is also home to 400 cherry blossom trees. Apart from the sweeping views of cherry blossom trees, explore the rich heritage of Kanazawa and feel as if you have travelled back to the days of the Samurai.
8. Tokyo (18 Mar – 26 Mar)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Shinjuku Gyoen, Cherry Trees Alley at Yanaka Cemetery
For a serene and peaceful cherry blossom viewing experience, we recommend a trip to main Sakura-dori (Cherry Blossom Street) at Yanaka Cemetery.
9. Sendai (5 Apr – 11 Apr)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Mikamine Park, Tsutsujigaoka Park
Located in central Sendai, Tsutsujigaoka Park is one of the most popular nature parks in Sendai boasting a variety of cherry blossoms, which creates a multi-coloured canopy at full bloom.
10. Hokkaido (1 May – 5 May)
Best Cherry Blossom Spots: Matsumae Park, Goryokaku (Hakodate)
Possibly one of the best cherry blossom spots in Hokkaido, the Goryokaku in Hakodate city. The star-shaped citadel is decorated with hundreds of cherry trees which is a spectacular sight to behold when seen from the top of Goryokaku Tower.