Visiting Japan during its cherry blossom season would be once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. Often words cannot describe the feelings that you are going to experience there. Lately I have been thinking about sharing an itinerary that could reveal the breathtaking spring beauty of Japan especially for the first-timers.

You know how wonderful it is to be part of the nation during hanami here as I assume you have seen awesome sakura photographs online, read articles, and watched videos on YouTube. You would agree with me that your dream trip to Japan will turn out to be a reality once you visit the country in the spring.

Nakameguro cherry blossom festival during spring, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

7 days in Japan for cherry blossom” itinerary includes country’s some of the famous cherry blossom spots, historic landmarks, popular shopping arcades, parks, gardens, hot spring resort, and a traditional old Japanese village. I think these are what most of the tourists expect to get from an average Japan tour.

Seemingly you are going to get these all in this simple itinerary. I also have some other surprises for you. You will find them as you keep reading this post. Please note that buying a 7-day JR Pass is highly recommended, check it out here for the best price.

This itinerary is designed especially for the ones who want to enjoy sakura in Japan from late March to early April. In fact, this is the perfect time to see sakura in most of the famous places on Honshu Island such as in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara.

Day 1 – Tokyo

Hanami in Shinkuju Gyoen, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Marufish at Flickr.

Being one of the most bustling cities in the world, Tokyo has its own special charm buried across the city. Anyway, welcome to Tokyo! You can check out the top 10 cherry blossom spots in Tokyo and then decide yourself which one to visit. Covering all these spots in a single day would a daunting task, don’t even imagine doing that!

Therefore don’t rush for all these hanami spots instead try visiting the ones that can be accessed easily from the hotel where you have booked a room for stay overnight. Find out the cheap hotels deals in Tokyo.

You can rent row boat at Chidorigafuchi. Photo Credit: shuzo serikawa at Flickr.

You should consider visiting Shinkuju Gyoen, Koishikawa Korakuen, Chidorigafuchi, and Meguro River in Nakameguro. Please note that Meguro River is a popular hanami spot to see Yozakura (night sakura) in Tokyo.

I am sure you don’t mind spending a day in Tokyo just for roaming around to see a sea of cherry trees. In fact, that’s the perfect way to start your expedition. You will come back here again in Tokyo and I would definitely cover rest of the top Tokyo’s sightseeing attractions including shopping streets.

Hotel to stay in Tokyo: Shinjuku Prince Hotel.

Day 2 – Nagoya

Nagoya Castle in spring. Photo Credit: Paul Davidson at Flickr.

Tokyo and Nagoya are directly connected with each other by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen. Use your Japan Rail Pass to get to Nagoya from Tokyo. It requires more than 2 hours reaching there by Hikari train. The early the better! So catch the early morning train to Nagoya and enjoy the outdoor views looking out the window on the train.

When you reach to Nagoya Station, take a taxi to the hotel you have already booked your room via online. If you have not then search here for great hotel deals in Osaka. Have some rest and be prepared to go out to see today’s attractions.

Yamazakigawa Riverside – Is not it breathtaking? Photo Credit: Romelyn Sansolis at Flickr.

Visit the Tsuruma Park, Yamazakigawa Riverside, and Nagoya Castle. That’s enough! I am glad to inform you that a trip to the first two places would be charming as they are particularly known for featuring stunning sakura in a large number.

On the other hand, Nagoya Castle is a historic site though that offers you to see tons of sakura around the castle grounds and park (Meijo Koen).

Hotel to stay in Nagoya: Nagoya JR Gate Tower Hotel.

Day 3 – Nagoya to Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go village – Truly an amazing place to visit in Gifu. Photo Credit: IQRemix at Flickr.

Today you are going to go to explore one of Japan’s most famous oldest villages and one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites called Shirakawa-go. You can easily get there by direct Gifu Bus. For more info about the bus service please visit here.

The bus departs from Meitetsu Bus Center, Nagoya city and I am sorry to inform you that your JR pass would not cover cost of the bus ride. It is highly recommended to buy a round trip bus ticket.

Gassho-zukuri style house in Shirakawa-go. Photo Credit: nobu3withfoxy at Flickr.

This is simply a gorgeous side trip available for you from downtown Nagoya. Traveling to this beautiful mountain village would let you discover the traditional style house (gassho-zukuri), immense surrounding natural beauty and give you an idea of how the ancestors of the village lived their life in an extreme weather condition. You can learn about Shirakawa-go here.

Get back to Nagoya and leave for Kyoto by Shinkansen on the same day (in the evening). The entire one way ride is about 40-50 minutes.

Hotel to Stay in Kyoto: Kyoto Tower Hotel.

Day 4 – Kyoto

Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

It’s time to explore Kyoto! A place where everyone likes to have a trip of different kinds, for example some visitors would like to explore it for few days while others visit it only for a day. It really depends on you.

As it is an itinerary that emphasizes mostly for cherry blossom spots I think you would gladly accept the recommendations I share with you here.

Walk along the path of the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama. Photo Credit: Casey Yee at Flickr.

Today, you will be visiting all these exciting places: Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge, Sagano Bamboo Forest, Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi), Heian Shrine, Okazaki Canal, Keage Incline, and Maruyama Park. Please note that no trip to Arashiyama is complete without a stop at the Bamboo forest.

Firstly, visit Arashiyama and explore its best tourist’s attractions such as Tenryuji Temple, Bamboo Groves, and walk across the Togetsukyo Bridge and sakura viewing. You can spend half a day there.

Tetsugaku no Michi or The Philosopher’s Path. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

The next destination would be Philosopher’s Path; it is a renowned hanami spot in Kyoto.  Then head to Heian Shrine, Okazaki Canal, and Keage Incline to witness wonderful cherry blossom vistas.

In the evening I would like you to get to Maruyama Park. Along with other sakura trees in the park, there is a giant cherry tree which in fact attracts thousands of visitors. The park is absolutely lively and a great place to see night sakura.

Day 5 – Nara and Kyoto

Deer in Nara Park. Photo Credit: fortherock at Flickr.

You will spend half a day in Nara and spend rest of time in Kyoto. This is to inform you that Miyakoji rapid trains operate every 30 minutes between Kyoto Station and JR Nara Station.

The trip is covered by Japan Rail Pass and takes about 45 minutes. In Nara, there is one famous place known as Nara Park.

Todaiji temple – the world’s largest wooden structure. Photo Credit: Fredrik Rubensson at Flickr.

It consists of freely roaming sacred deer, many historical buildings such as Buddhist temples, gardens, and shrine including Nara National Museum. Feed the deer and be there companion for a while.

Try discovering all these places before 12:00pm and don’t forget to get a picture of the Todaiji Temple building. You can have your lunch either in Nara or Kyoto.

Kinkaku-ji – A famous Zen Buddhist Temple in Kyoto. Photo Credit: dingcarrie at Flickr.

It is impossible to think of a trip to Kyoto without a visit to Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Kiyomizudera Temple. When the blooms actually arrive at the grounds of these famous places everything seems so relaxing and charming.

Pack your things well before you leave for Osaka in the following morning. Send your large luggage to Tokyo through luggage delivery service (takuhaibin). You can find about it more here in this page.

Day 6 – Osaka

Visitors enjoying their hanami party at Osaka Castle Park. Photo Credit: Tomoharu Mogami at Flickr.

Welcome to Osaka!

According to my knowledge, many foreign tourists like to travel to Osaka after Tokyo. It does make sense as it is the second largest city in the country as well as offers so many exciting things to do and see throughout the year. Ok, you arrive in Osaka from Kyoto in the morning.

Dotonbori – find your restaurants there to have a great dinner. Photo Credit: Marufish at Flickr.

A few days ago I have shared a suggested Osaka itinerary for spring season. Please read this here and find out how to spend 2 day in Osaka. Oh…you have only day to spend there! What to do now? Ok, let me help you.

My suggestion to you is spend less time in less touristic spots and give much priority to the sites like Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Museum of History, Expo 70 Commemorative Park, Kema Sakuranomiya Park, and Dotonbori.

You don’t need to not stay in Osaka instead you take the shinkansen to get back to Tokyo before midnight. Alternatively, you can stay in Osaka, in that case, check into the following hotel, located close to Osaka Station.

Hotels to Stay in Osaka: Hilton Osaka Hotel.

Day 7 – Tokyo

Shibuya at night! Photo Credit: Emmanuel P. at Flickr.

This is your last day stay in Japan. I hope you make it memorable and enjoyable as much as possible. People who travel in Tokyo don’t come there just to explore the city’s best touristic spots instead they are on the hunt for the best shopping streets and restaurants.

Tokyo has everything to please you and fulfill your desire. You just have to move one neighborhood to another.

This is mind-blowing! Chidorigafuchi is one of my favorite hanami spots to see night sakura. Photo Credit: Marufish at Flickr.

For a great shopping experience in the capital city, I recommend you to head to Shibuya and Shinjuku areas. Also there you would find so many good restaurants to satisfy your stomach. Apart from being one of the best modern cities in the World, Tokyo is filled with many “it happened here” historic sites. For example one can visit the historic landmarks such as the Imperial Palace, Edo Castle, Senso-ji, Tokyo National Museum, and Meiji Shrine.

This is the itinerary that is not just for viewing sakura at full bloom time! Don’t you think so? I am so glad that you have the opportunity to see Shirakawa-go (a Japanese village) in the spring. If you want to extend your stay in Japan for a few days more, then I would highly recommend you to head towards the Tohoku region. If so please follow this suggested Tohoku itinerary and make your trip unforgettable.

You can stay your last night in Tokyo at Gracery Shinjuku.

HAVE Fun and visit Japan again in the future! Thank you.