Spring is a glorious season of Japan that has so much to offer you. Indeed it’s the best time to see sakura in Japan. In spring, hanami – the flower (cherry blossom) viewing season can be enjoyed across the country. It is truly breathtaking to see the mountainous slopes, riversides, parks, gardens, temple & shrine grounds, and streets, which all get decorated with tons of sakura.

Oh! I have missed something here. They are the historic castles of Japan. They are pretty impressive to visit year round, but visiting them in the spring is truly awe-inspiring. A view of a Japanese castle looks very beautiful with the branches of dazzling cherry blossoms. That’s the real combination of creating a great hanami atmosphere. Don’t you think so?

Himeji castle in the spring. Photo Credit: Reginald Pentinio at Flickr.

History says, hundreds of castles have been built over the centuries. Though, not all of them are still existed, some were fully destroyed, rebuilt and restored. Surprisingly, we still have the original castles that have survived in warfare. Usually, Japanese castles do not look attractive only because of its fully-bloomed sakura trees, but also for its adjacent park, moat, entrance gate, bridge, guard tower, and palace.

You will be happy to know that there are some very famous Japanese castles out there, where mind-boggling cherry blossom festivals take place. Today you will hunt for those castles which are worth a visit during springtime.

1) Matsuyama Castle:

Matsuyama Castle. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

There is nothing I love more than visiting a popular cherry blossom spot during spring. Matsuyama castle is one of the top cherry blossoms viewing spots where I would love to visit over and over again. It is located on Mount Katsuyama, in the heart of Matsuyama city, and recognized as Japan’s one of the twelve original Castles.

This sound pretty impressive, but you will be overwhelmed visiting it during hanami when hundreds of cherry trees are in full bloom in early April. It is quite exciting viewing sakura from the castle’s main keep over the sakura blossoms trees. It is the symbol of Shikoku that you can’t miss its awesome spring beauty. Hopefully, it will not be a daunting task for you to discover the whole castle area.

2) Himeji Castle:

Sakura and Himeji Castle main keep. Photo Credit: Wei-Te Wong at Flickr.

Himeji Castle is a national treasure and a world heritage site of Japan. My favorite part of hanami celebration is to view the splendid sakura blossom in many places across Japan, and Himeji castle has it in abundance. Again, it is one of the twelve original castles of Japan that has an interesting fact that – it was never ever been destroyed by earthquake, war and fire. Isn’t so great to hear?

It is a massive castle and one of the most beautiful Japanese castles of all time. The castle’s surrounding structures, color, size and cherry trees make it a perfect spring holiday destination in Japan. Walking along the winding paths will lead you to discover beautiful cherry blossoms display and different areas of the castle.

3) Hirosaki Castle:

Hirosaki castle during the cherry blossom festival. Photo Credit: yisris at Flickr.

There is a beautiful fortified moat that looks stunningly gorgeous with millions of fallen sakura petals. At the end of their brightening life, they have no regrets to fall down in the moat. A lot of visitors visit the castle’s ground during the hanami season by knowing it as the best hanami spots in the Tohoku region with more than 2,500 sakura trees including one famous Yoshino cherry tree that is approximately 135 years old.

People say this is the oldest Yoshino cherry tree that still exists with pride. Its branches filled with delicate cherry blossoms in the spring. In comparison with Himeji castle, it is small in size, located in the grounds of Hirosaki Park. The view of white cherry blossoms along with castle main keep and a red bridge is my favorite thing to experience in this place. Every year, from April 23 to May 5, the castle holds an annually hanami festival called “Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival”.

4) Osaka Castle:

Osaka Castle. Photo Credit: Tomoharu Mogami at Flickr.

Nowadays, Osaka has become one of the top popular destinations to visit in Japan. A lot of visitors are keen to visit it before Tokyo and Kyoto. Most of the visitors to Osaka don’t forget to head to Osaka Castle as it’s considered one of the must-see attractions in the area.

This is a great Japanese castle, first was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1585, then which was destroyed by Tokugawa clan in 1615. Though, the main keep was struck by a deadly lightning and burned to the ground in 1665.

It is said that over 4,000 sakura trees are planted on the specious grounds of the castle. There is a large beautiful moat which surrounds the whole castle. During hanami, you can enjoy a very lovely time sitting at the grounds of Nishinomaru Park and experience an amazing view of the main Osaka castle tower. Early-April is said to be the best time to see sakura here.

5) Matsumoto Castle:

Weeping cherry blossoms! Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

Matsumoto castle is one the twelve original castles of Japan. It is a national treasure built by Ishikawa Kazumasa and his son Yasunaga in 1590. The atmosphere in the castle ground seem to me peaceful, though it becomes full of crowds when hundreds of cherry trees are in full bloom. According to my experience, it is a very beautiful castle inside and out with the majestic cherry trees.

You can see amazing white sakura blossoms around the castle’s moat and inside the main castle grounds. The impressive view of the classic red bridge and the castle main keep look marvelously unique and breathtaking. Get here and have a pleasant stroll along the strolling paths and enjoy the view of sakura in mid April. If you are looking to find a great hanami spot in Nagano prefecture then this is the best one I could recommend you to explore.

6) Nagoya Castle:

Nagoya Castle is one of the top hanami spots in Japan. Photo Credit: Paul Davidson at Flickr

Back in 2012, after a non-stop train ride, I arrived in Nagoya ready to see what spring in Nagoya has to offer. I was quite interested in visiting Yamazakigawa RiversideTsuruma Park especially Nagoya Castle. My entire trip was great as I enjoyed impressive sakura scenery that I had expected before arriving in Nagoya.

There are many white cherry blossoms trees and several weeping cherry trees are planted along the moats of Nagoya Castle. Their dazzling blossom throughout the peak season would certainly give you a great hanami festive atmosphere. Please get here early-April before the sakura petals hit the grounds.

7) Takada Castle:

Night illumination during the sakura matsuri at Takada Castle. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you are in Niigata prefecture to discover its historic castles then you should visit Takada Castle, Shibata Castle, and Kasugayama Castle. These are the castles that Niigata could be proud of especially the Takada Castle, also known as Takada Park. Here, cherry blossom viewing is a must thing to do in spring. The castle is located on the ground of Takada Park, in Joetsu city, that has more than 4000 cherry trees around the castle’s moats.

Please note that this is one of Japan’s 100 best cherry blossom spots. The spot features many food stalls, the sakura road lined with sakura tree, cherry blossom parade, stage performances, and night lighting illumination. The castle may not be as great as Matsumoto castle, but the hanami party here is the best and uplifting. Early April is the best time to enjoy all the entertaining hanami features I have mentioned a moment ago. When I was there to have a hanami party, I felt simply happy, relaxed, calm and peaceful.

8) Hikone Castle:

Hikone Castle and Sakura. Photo Credit: T.Kiya at Flickr.

Mysteriously Hikone castle could take you back to 16th century. Don’t you believe me? Head to this beautiful three-story castle keep and explore its adjacent structures including the cherry blossoms in springtime. Besides exploring its main castle keep you are advised to discover the strong walls, moats, gates, wooden bridge, guard house, and the Hikone castle museum. They look pretty gorgeous just like the old days.

What’s the most beautiful season of this castle? The answer is “spring”. Please note that there are about 1,200 cherry trees scattered throughout the castle’s grounds. It hosts the greatest Hikone Castle Cherry Blossom Festival in early April. At night, cherry threes, castle main keep, front gate, bridges, and inner moat are lit up with lights to make a great hanami atmosphere.

9) Okayama Castle:

Okayama Castle’s main keep. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Many people visit Okayama prefecture year round to see its famous sightseeing attractions. The area is known for its famous Korakuen Garden (one of three major Japanese-style gardens in Japan). Have you ever been there before?

I believe you can experience an unforgettable spring holiday there if you visit Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden separately. From the garden you can experience a picturesque view of Okayama castle main keep. Surprisingly, both of these places offer to see hundreds of sakura trees.

Okayama castle ground has approximately 200 cherry trees, meanwhile, Korakuen garden has more than 300 cherry trees. There is an interesting fact I want to tell you here that, Okayama castle is also known as raven/crow castle due to its dark appearance.

10) Matsumae (Fukuyama) Castle:

Matsumae Castle in Hakodate, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Matsumae is the one and only traditional Japanese style castle that you would ever find in the Hokkaido region. The castle’s and Matsumae park’s grounds together have more than 10,000 cherry trees of 250 different varieties. Bear in mind it is known for being one of the top 100 cherry blossom spots in Japan. This is the only castle ground that provides such a great number of sakura trees in one single spot. How impressive is that!

If you wish to see cherry blossom together with castle moat, garden and castle main keep in Japan then this could be the last one you could visit. There are also three temples, theme park, one shrine and a sakura museum. Don’t miss these out when you are inside the castle grounds. It hosts a popular cherry blossom festival from late April to mid May.

I was amazed by how big the castle ground is, and it is simply magnificent looking at the variety of late and early blooming cherry blossoms. Some of them were still waiting to burst into life, while other varieties of sakura were in full glory! It is a bit more crowded during the festival time than some of the spot I have described here.

Enjoy Hanami while Visiting these Castles

Seriously, it is amazing to explore all of these places in the spring. I believe there are other castles ruins that also provide a great hanami spirit like the above ones. However, they will teach you some history at the same time show you amazing display of sakura blossoms. I am glad that my trips to these places were unforgettable and I felt like I was nowhere but somewhere in the past.

Visiting the above castles will seem to you like taking a step back in time! No matter where you travel in Japan in the spring, you will have to book your hotel room in advance because you are not the only one person who wants to enjoy it rather there are millions of sakura fanatics waiting to participate in the hanami parties all over Japan.