A symbol of life, death, and renewal, cherry blossoms, or sakura, are cherished throughout Northeast Asia as a timeless metaphor for the delicacy of one’s time on earth. Every spring these intoxicating blooms, although short-lived, provide a dreamlike display that the people of Japan admire and reflect upon with the centuries-old tradition of hanami or Cherry Blossom Viewing.
The island nation will be covered in a soft pink blanket from March to early May, with blooms starting in the lower regions of Okinawa, spreading northwards as temperatures increase with the arrival of summer. Much like foliage season in places like New England, cherry blossom season is a short-lived and highly sought-after experience that takes careful planning and a bit of luck. Here are 6 amazing places to view cherry blossoms in Japan.
If you’re interested in planing next year’s trip to Hakuba around the cherry blossoms, send us an Enquiry and we can help plan your Dream Japan Experience:
Time of Bloom: Mid-January to mid-February
Often sought out for its subtropical weather, gorgeous beaches, and coral reef, Okinawa is unique for those seeking the first glimpse of the sakura season. Unlike the pastel pinks of the mainland blossoms, Okinawa’s cherry trees, originating from southern China and Taiwan, glow a fluorescent hue. The bright pink shades of the flowers, young artists sketching trees, and photographers chasing the blooms are a sure sign that winter is coming to an end!
Ueno Park (Tokyo)
Time of Bloom: Late March to early April
Ueno Park is the oldest cherry blossom viewing destination in Tokyo (and we mean old. Like, since the Edo period old) and is one of the best places to get the full hanami experience. The tradition of viewing the blossoms at night is still a popular spring event with thousands of paper lanterns illuminating the flourishing trees.
Time of Bloom: Late March to early April
Hundreds of cherry trees line these charming gardens with a historic, picturesque moat surrounding its perimeter. Once serving as protection to the imperial palace during the Edo Period, the tranquil waters create one of Tokyo’s most outstanding sights while offering a reflective vantage point for sakura viewing. You will almost forget you are in the center of one of the world’s most populous metropolises when you take to the waters for a romantic boat ride. In the evening enjoy a wondrous display when the trees are softly illuminated along the winding park paths.
Time of Bloom: Late March-Early April
Once the capital of Japan, Nara is now a historic and cultural hub filled with ancient temples and pagodas to admire amidst the lush sakura blossoms. Home to hundreds of free-roaming deer frolicking through the beautiful grounds, Nara’s 1,700 cherry trees outnumber the docile creatures by 500 or so. Designated as a Precious Natural Treasure of the State, Nara’s deer have been protected since ancient times adding a touch of mysticism to the elegant scenery.
Hirosaki Castle – Tohoku region
Time of Bloom: Late April to early May
Hirosaki state park is a charming escape from the bustling city gardens with its 2,600 cherry trees encircling the towering castle. Stroll along the western moat for a picturesque view of the majestic castle tower and the stark red Shunyo Bridge contrasting with the pastel pink blossoms and snowcapped mountains in the distance. While meandering through the park, pay respect to one of the oldest sakura trees in Japan, planted over 120 years ago!
Time of Bloom: Late April to Early May
Due to the cooler temperatures in the Japanese Alps, the cherry blossoms bloom a month later than their counterparts in Tokyo, Kansai, and Hiroshima. Set against the snow-capped mountains, cobalt blue lakes, and streaming rivers, Hakuba may be the most beautiful place to view cherry blossoms during Golden Week. Vist Oide Park in Hakuba to experience this spectacular view.
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Guest Blog by Lance Caron from Yampu Tours. Yampu Tours provides travelers with unparalleled, individually crafted, private experiences to suit their unique interests and travel tastes. Visit yampu.com for more information.