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Springtime in Japan sees the country covered in cherry blossoms, as the sight of these pale pink petals is considered an emblem of the country. The much-loved sakura (cherry blossom) season offers a dazzling display of natural beauty that surrounds the city streets, parks, temples, and rivers. Whether you prefer to see these pink-hued beauties on a scenic walk or on a picnic beside a castle, read on to discover the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan.
Tokyo offers an array of sites to see the famed cherry blossoms. While the country’s massive capital may not seem like the most likely place to see these beauties, you’ll find them in green pockets around the city. Head to the Chidorigafuchi Moat to see hundreds of cherry blossoms lining the way to the Imperial Palace. If you’re looking for a quiet place to reflect, head to Shinjuku Gyoen to explore its 144-acre expanse with over 1,500 trees and a dozen varieties of Sakura, while Ueno Park is the most popular area to take a stroll underneath a canopy of cherry blossoms.
A city filled with beautiful temples, gardens and imperial palaces, the cherry blossoms in Kyoto tend to bloom from the last week of March until the middle of April. You’ll find a huge 70-year-old sakura tree in Maruyama-koen Park, while The Philosopher’s Walk is a great place to take an afternoon stroll along its canal lined with cherry blossoms. You can also visit the historic Ninnaji Temple, as this UNESCO-listed site is dotted with blooming cherry trees and is a great place to take a break from the bustle of the city.
You’ll find thousands of cherry blossom trees planted along the picturesque Okawa River, where riverside promenades and gardens offer delightful places to stop for a break. The city boasts over 5,000 sakura trees planted all over the city, but none are as famous as the ones at the Osaka Castle. Its wide lawns are ideal for an afternoon picnic, while Kema Sakuranomiya Park is another place to pack an outdoor lunch. In the evening you can visit Expo 70 Commemorative Park to see a unique view of the cherry trees surrounded by a beautiful light display.
Early April sees Nara blooming in cherry blossom season, as the city’s expansive parks, palaces, shrines and castle ruins are a great place to explore in spring. Visit Nara Park to see cherry blossoms and bowing deer, while Heijo Palace makes a great place for a picnic. Koriyama Castle offers a backdrop of castle ruins, while Wakakusayama offers a hiking trail along the slope fo a grass-covered hill. For the most beautiful cherry blossom sighting, visit Mt. Yoshino just south of the city to see around 30,000 cherry blossom trees completely covering its hills.
A picturesque city lined with beautiful parks, Aomori is home to the world’s longest cherry tree-lined road. Lined with 6,500 cherry trees, it offers stunning views of Mt. Iwaki in the background as you take a scenic drive. You’ll also want to make sure you visit Hirosaki Castle, as this is one of the best places for Sakura in all of Japan. It features over 50 varieties planted around its castle grounds, while the beautiful lake in front makes for a beautiful sight as you row your own boat amongst the falling flowers.
You’ll find the very rare Gyoiko tree found around Nagoya Castle, while Okazaki Park features over 300 years of history alongside cherry blossoms and Japanese wisteria. Head to Mizuho Park for a scenic walk along Four Seasons Road at Yamazaki River or admire the fountain and gazebo at the lively Tsuruma Park that is known to be a happening spot with the party people of Nagoya. Early April is the best time to visit Nagoya Peace Park, where a small forest of cherry trees are nestled next to two ponds.
Visit Fukuoka in late March to early April to see thousands of sakura trees sitting next to majestic temples and leafy parks. Every spring, Maizuru Park hosts a popular cherry blossom festival called Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival, where you’ll find the trees illuminated at night in addition to a variety of food stalls and events. This spacious park offers lots of space to stretch your legs and enjoy the view, particularly from the observation platform in the former citadel. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is another hotspot, where 2,000 cherry trees can be admired from a rental bike as you cruise through the spacious grounds.
Boasting an amusement park and a small zoo, those traveling with kids can combine a day of family-friendly fun with cherry blossom viewing in Hakodate. Blooming late in the early days of May, head to the star-shaped Fort Goryokaku to see an Edo Period citadel that was turned into a public park, where the pink-hued beauties can be found dotting its historic moats. Hakodate Park is another great place to see cherry blossoms, where you can also visit the Hakodate City Museum, mini zoo and children’s playground in one of Japan’s first ever Western-style parks.
Kanazawa is a castle town that is known for its geisha districts and Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens. Head here to see the 400 cherry blossoms in more than 40 varieties, then visit Kanazawa Castle Park to see its collection of unique stone walls. It’s walls and white watchtower make a unique backdrop for the cherry blossom trees, which are lit up at night to create a glowing scene in the dark. After a day of adventure, take a stroll along the Asano Riverbed to see rows of trees or admire a view of the entire city at Utatsuyama Park.
A city with historic sites and beautiful shrines, Hiroshima is home to the Hiroshima Peace Park that was built as a testament towards world peace. Wander the grounds of Hiroshima Castle to see some of the best cherry blossom viewing in the city, while Shukkeien Garden offers a quiet escape from the city bustle. A 45-minute trip to Miyajima is a must, as the small island outside of Hiroshima offers views of the “floating” torii gate and 1,300 cherry trees that surround the shrine.
Himeji Castle, Kansai Region
Himeji Castle is one of Japan’s 12 original castles and considered a must-visit any time of the year, but sakura season takes its striking presence up a notch, with the grounds filled with cherry trees that create a dazzling spectacle when in full bloom. Coupled with the meandering pathways, the gardens, the towers, the wooden bridge, and the gates, it’s like entering a fantasy land.
The former castle town and well-known historic site in the Akita Prefecture known as the Kakunodate samurai district offer the chance to visit spectacular cherry blooms and samurai architecture at the same time. The well-preserved village is home to especially lovely streets lined with countless cherry trees that frame centuries-old samurai homes. You can also enjoy a picnic under the trees that lie on the banks of the Hinokinai River.