Asia | Destination Guides

12 of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan

Recently updated on April 3rd, 2024 at 10:44 am

Seeing the cherry blossoms in Japan is an essential tick on any travel bucket list. As winter gives way to spring, the Japan sakura (cherry tree) sends city streets, ornamental gardens and pretty canals awash in a sea of pink. 

While it is possible to see spring blossoms in other parts of the world, nowhere else on earth can match the eruption of excitement and celebration of the Japan sakura.

But catching the cherry blossom season in Japan takes prior planning and preparation – the trees only bloom for a few short weeks each year. If you want to see the cherry blossoms in Japan, peak pink blossoms happen between mid-March and early May each year.

There are hundreds of incredible places to see the sakura, but to get you started, here are 12 of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan.

If you’re dreaming of seeing the cherry blossoms, book one of our Japan Trafalgar tours for late March or early April to catch this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.

When do cherry blossoms bloom in Japan?

Cherry blossoms in Japan typically start blooming in late March in the southern regions and gradually progress northwards, reaching full bloom in different areas over the following weeks. The peak blooming period can vary slightly from year to year depending on the weather conditions. Here’s a general timeline of the cherry blossom viewing season across Japan:

Okinawa: The earliest blooms can be seen in Okinawa as early as January or February, due to its subtropical climate.

Kyushu, Shikoku, and Chugoku regions (including Hiroshima): In these southern parts of Japan, cherry blossoms usually start blooming in mid-March to early April.

Kansai (including Kyoto, Osaka and Himeji): The blossoms in these areas typically start opening from late March to early April.

Hokuriku and Chubu regions (including Kanazawa): Blooms usually occur in early April, about a week later than Tokyo and Osaka.

Kanto (including Tokyo): In Tokyo and its surrounding areas, cherry blossoms generally start blooming in the last week of March and reach full bloom in early April.

Mount Fuji and Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region: The cherry blossoms around Mount Fuji usually bloom around early April or mid-April.

Hokkaido: Due to its colder climate, cherry blossom season in Hokkaido begins in late April and can last until early May.

The peak bloom, known as “full bloom,” when the blossoms are at their most beautiful and the trees are fully covered in pink flowers, usually occurs about a week after the first blossoms open.

For the most accurate timing and to plan your visit, it’s a good idea to check cherry blossom forecasts. Japan’s Meteorological Corporation (JMC) monitors the trees and provides regular updates every few weeks during the season. 

Experience the cherry blossoms of Japan on: Splendours of Japan

1. Ueno Park

Tokyo has a huge number of parks, promenades and botanical gardens where the beautiful cherry blossom season can be seen in full swing. One of the most popular cherry blossom parks in the city is Ueno Park. It’s home to more than 1000 Japan sakura trees, plus museums, shrines and ponds. In late March and early April during the evening a 4km path is illuminated with lights. Viewing the blossoms at night is called yozakura. Usually lights or lanterns are spun into the branches to make the flowers glow at night. There are also street food stalls with Japanese delights like noodles and rice balls so you can snack as you stroll the park. 

Best time to see: End of March to early April

Cherry Blossom in Japan

2. Shinjuku Gyoen

For a slower pace of life, wander over to the English Garden at Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. Here you’ll find rolling green lawns ideal for hanami (the Japanese tradition that describes the act of observing and appreciating the cherry blossoms). Across the country, friends, families and colleagues will gather with picnic boxes and blankets to have a picnic beneath a cherry blossom tree.

Best time to see: End of March to early April

cherry blossoms in Tokyo

3. Chureito Pagoda

The Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes region best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan. You’ll see spectacular floods of pink blossoms to frame your photos of Japan’s most famous mountain. A favourite spot for photographers, the Chureito Pagoda attracts visitors year round but is most popular in mid April for the cherry blossom season in Japan. In photographs the pagoda can appear to float on a sea of pink flowers with the spectacular Mount Fuji in the background.

Best time to see: Early April to mid-April

Chureito Pagoda Mount Fuji Japan

4. Lake Kawaguchi 

The second largest of the Fuji Five Lakes region, Lake Kawakguchi is a popular hot spring resort town and throws an amazing cherry blossom festival each year. Cast your eyes across the lake to see magical Mount Fuji through the morning mist and wander along a 1km stretch of cherry blossoms. Soak in an onsen and experience the Fuji Kawaguchiko Cherry Blossom Festival, held each year.

Best time to see: Early April to mid-April

cherry blossom tree Mount Fuji Japan

5. Maruyama Park

Kyoto is famed for its serene temples, ornate gardens, and traditional crafts, but it’s also one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan. In Kyoto’s Maruyama Park a tall shidarezakura weeping cherry tree is the centre of attention. Its blush blossom-covered branches bend towards the ground, and at night it is illuminated in all its Japan sakura glory. Be sure to seek out the Philosopher’s Path, where hundreds of cherry trees line a peaceful canal path.

Best time to see: End of March to early April

Kyoto streets cherry blossoms

6. Arashiyama

On the outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama has a reputation as one of the most beautiful spots for cherry blossom trees. Wander around the Togetsukyo Bridge at the foot of Arashiyama mountains, through the riverside Nakanoshima Park, and enjoy hanami at the Daikakuji Temple. Best of all, take your loved one on the Sagano Romantic Train. It passes through a tunnel of sakura blossoms. 

Best time to see: End of March to early April

Arashiyama best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan

7. Nijo Castle 

The historic UNESCO World Heritage protected Nijo Castle in Kyoto is the perfect backdrop for your cherry blossom photos. Within the castle grounds a huge variety of cherry trees have been planted. This means the sakura will bloom at different times throughout the season, increasing your chances of seeing blossoms.

Best time to see: End of March to early April

RELATED CONTENT: From samurai to sakura, where to go and what to do in Japan

cherry blossoms around traditional building Japan

8. Okawa River & Kema Sakuranomiya Park

With almost 5,000 trees lining the Okawa River, it’s one of the most stunning cherry blossom spots in the city of Osaka. The endless rows of trees deserve a second viewing, so promenade along the river and through Kema Sakuranomiya Park. You’ll find the perfect lawn for a picnic or hanami.

On our Classic Japan tour we start with an ‘aqua-bus’ along the Okawa River so you can get to know the major sights and take in the thousands of cherry blossom trees.

Best time to see: End of March to early April

cherry blossoms over Okawa River Japan

9. Osaka Castle

The grounds of Osaka Castle are planted with more than 4,000 cherry blossom trees. Take your picnic to Nishinomaru Park, located in the castle’s western area. Here wide lawns and views of the castle await. Do as the Japanese do and bring plenty of layers so you can stay to watch the castle light up at night.

Best time to see: End of March to early April

Osaka Castle Japan

10. Kenrokuen Garden

Set in the gorgeous city of Kanazawa, Kenrokuen is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Constructed during the Edo period by the Maeda clan, its designed as a strolling garden. You can wander through the ornate trees, ponds, bridges, and teahouses at your won pace, soaking up the beauty of the gardens and the cherry blossoms in spring. The nearby Kanazawa Castle is also a fantastic spot to see blossoms.

Best time to see: Early April

Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa Japan

11. Miyajima Island

Located near Hiroshima, Miyajima Island is famous for its floating torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine. The island’s scenic landscapes light uring the sakura season, with a spectacular view of the bright orange torii gate and the blue ocean framed by pink blossoms. You can also see the rest of the island’s temples and streets illuminated with cherry blossoms.

Best time to see: Mid-March to early April

temple on Miyajima Island Japan

12. Himeji Castle

Known as the “White Heron Castle’ because of its resemblance to a heron in flight, Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Japan’s most majestic castles. It’s also one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan, with over 1,000 cherry trees planted around the castle grounds. The contrast of the castle’s white walls against the pink blossoms creates a stunning scene and it’s located only fours away from Tokyo by train.

Best time to see: Early to mid-April

Himeji Castle best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan

Ready for a cherry blossom adventure of your own? Head over to Trafalgar’s website to book your Japan tour today.

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