I can’t believe it’s already that time again for cherry blossoms! It was right around this time last year that I started thinking about when I should go to Japan. As most of you know by now, cherry blossom trees come out in full bloom during springtime in Japan – and the pink and white sakura petals provide some of the most dreamy and romantic backdrops ever! I wanted to revisit this topic since it’s been one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. Scroll on for my travel guide to cherry blossom in Japan.
When to Visit
It’s impossible to estimate exact dates for when cherry blossoms will be at their peak in Japan. So, you’ll often hear people recommend that you stay at least a week to see how the blooms play out. This worked out to my advantage when I traveled towards the end of March last year.
Be mindful that cherry blossom season itself starts from late March and runs through early May with the beginning of April being peak time for many of the country’s top hanami spots. This can also vary depending on which part of the country you’re visiting (I’ll do my best to cover those timeframes below). That being said, the blossoms only last for a few weeks.
– Cherry blossoms are extremely delicate and fragile, so you’re not supposed to touch them (which includes shaking the branches, picking, or plucking).
– It’s considered rude to stand, sit on, or ride bikes over the roots of the cherry blossom tress.
– Do practice common courtesy, such as being quiet, cleaning up after yourself, and minimizing trash (this applies not only to cherry blossoms but wherever you go!)
– Make time to see the blossoms at night because they can be even more beautiful with the lanterns.
Best Spots for Hanami
Chureito Pagoda – This may not be the most historical hanami spot in Japan but it was one of the most memorable for me. In one shot, you can get a view of a classic Japanese pagoda, sea of cherry blossom trees, and a snow-capped Mt. Fuji on the horizon. Cherry blossoms here are known to bloom at the start of April which is considered slightly later than Kyoto and Tokyo.
The best time for cherry blossoms in Kyoto and Tokyo are late March to early April. When I went last year, those were the first two cities I hit up first. Here are my favorite spots:
Path to Yasaka-No-To Pagoda – What makes this pagoda unique is that unlike most of them, it stands alone without any accompanying temple. It over looks Gion (Japan’s most famous geisha district), so that combined with the surrounding area and architecture looks super historical and with the cherry blossoms in sight. Walking through it takes me back in time and feel completely magical as the day gets darker.
Philosopher Path – For a beautiful stroll with cherry blossoms in sight, you cannot go wrong with the Philosopher Path. It’s one of the city’s most popular areas during hanami season – and stretches out a little over 1 mile. You may even catch a few people dressed in traditional kimono or even geisha.
Shirakawa River – I also highly recommend you stroll along the Shirakawa River, one of Kyoto’s main rivers. The stone bridges and wooden homes are all so cute when you catch them in one view. Also, alongside the river is Shinbashi, one of the loveliest streets in Gion, which is illuminated after dark and look so surreal with the cherry blossoms in sight. It gets busy but you won’t regret it.
Meguro River – This area is located near Shibuya and is lined with more than 800 cherry trees. During the cherry blossom festival, you’ll find lots of stalls selling food, snacks, and drinks. It gets even more beautiful at night when paper lanterns light up.
Yoyogi Park – This is another park located near Shibuya and Harajuku areas. It boasts round 700 cherry trees – and is one of Tokyo’s biggest national parks. It’s a great place to enjoy a picnic in the morning.
Generally, cherry blossoms start blooming in the third to fourth week of March in Osaka and hit full bloom as April arrives. Here are my recommendations for hanami:
Osaka Castle – The Osaka Castle is definitely an iconic spot for cherry blossoms. There are a multitude of trees perched on the grounds, which makes for the biggest explosion of blossoms. I love seeing that sliver of Japanese architecture in the background. If you can, try to plan ahead for a picnic.
Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park – This park is beautiful year-round, and you can see a mix of cherry blossoms with other seasonal flowers during spring. It’s a much easier place to picnic than the Osaka castle.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park – Near the Osaka River is Kema Sakuranomiya Park. Personally, I love catching blossoms along rivers, so this park is perfect for that.
Hope you guys found my travel guide to cherry blossom in Japan helpful! Let me know if you have any other recommendations or tips to add to the list.travel guidetravel spots