Where are the best spots?
Wherever you are in Japan during spring there will be blossom, so you won’t miss out! However, the debate about the best places in Japan to see the spectacle rages on, and an official list identifies prime spots in each prefecture. We’ve broken it down and selected a few favourites.
Early bird – The earliest flowers bloom in early February on the subtropical Okinawa archipelago, about 400 miles south of mainland Japan. Take a romantic walk through a tunnel of cherry trees at Nakijin Castle, lit-up at night by lanterns that mark out the path.
Last ‘sakura snow’ – Late spring visitors can join the celebrations on Hokkaido where the last blossom doesn’t fall, or ‘snow’, until May. Stay in Sapporo and enjoy the region’s famous seafood with a picnic in Maruyama Park under the cherry-tree avenue leading to Hokkaido Shrine.
Biggest – The famous Issingyo ‘Big Cherry’ in Kumamoto Prefecture is over 400 years old and stands an impressive 14 metres tall. This grand specimen transforms into a giant candyfloss-like cloud of pink from the end of March to mid-April, contrasting against the bright-yellow oil-seed below for stunning Instagram-worthy snaps.
Worth the hike – From Osaka or Kyoto, you can easily take a day trip to Mount Yoshino where hundreds of different cherry trees spill, waterfall-like, down the mountainside. Enjoy locally-made cherry mochi en route, and stay at the Hoshinoya, Kyoto where you can enjoy the stunning blossom displays in secluded riverside surroundings after an energetic day’s hiking.
Romantic – Treat yourself to a stay at a relaxing ryokan-style hotel in Hakone at the chic Gora Kadan or Aura Tachibana, which both have stunning views over the forested landscape. Explore the many bloom-filled parks, and get that iconic view of Mount Fuji through the blossom from the Five Lakes region.
Timewarp - See the spring countryside in old-school style at the Oigawa Railway in Shizuoka Prefecture. Take a mainline train from Tokyo, grab a seasonal bento from the local station and hop aboard to soak up the charm of seeing the cherry blossom from a steam train.
Big city – Tokyo really turns hanami up to 11! Enjoy the Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Illuminations along the riverside as the bubbles of the sakura-pink sparkling wine go to your head. If you don’t mind the crowds, head for Uena Park and soak up the festive atmosphere, or find a bit more peace and quiet at Asukayama Park which boasts a family-friendly monorail and play area among the blossom trees.
These recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are so many other beautiful places to see the blossom: Kanazawa castle, Takayama Spring Festival, Shikoku… too many to list! Ask our Destination Specialists for their personal favourites.