Spring Travel Guide

10 Best Places to See Cherry Blossom in Japan

Hanami is around the corner in Japan. Want to know about Japan’s top cherry blossom viewing spots? Then look no further!

In this post, I am going to feature some of the most famous and popular cherry blossoms spots in Japan. It is very difficult picking favorite cherry blossom spots, especially when it’s only allowed 10. Can you imagine that?

Cherry blossom viewing (hanami) is a centuries-old tradition followed by the Japanese people. It’s no secret that you are reading this post because you are interested in visiting Japan in spring. Have you already made your travel plan?

In fact, this article may help you planning your specific travel plans and you will be able to decide what to include in your Japan spring holiday itinerary or what to skip.

A beautiful cherry tree at Shinjuku Gyoen. Photo Credit: shuzo serikawa at Flickr.

In Japan, there are endless areas to view sakura in abundance. Each of the spot has their own unique beauty and eye-catching surroundings, and often it’s really hard to pick the most favorites.

However, if one of your favorite spring holiday destinations is Japan, the following classic cherry blossom viewing spots deserve your kind attention.

They are not only considered the best, but also the greatest of all time! Taking this into account, get ready to plan a trip to one of these beautiful natural wonders.

1) Mount Yoshino (Yoshinoyama), Nara

Cherry blossoms on the slope of Mount Yoshino. Photo Credit: Reginald Pentinio at Flickr.

Abundance of pink sakura over the beautiful mountain is a typical phenomenon of Mount Yoshino. Located within Yoshino-Kumano National Park which is listed to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yoshinoyama is place of scenic beauty with tranquil atmosphere all over it.

Nara Prefecture’s Yoshinoyama is said to be one of Japan’s greatest cherry blossom viewing spots of all time.

The mountain is divided into four distinct areas: The Shimo Senbon, Naka Senbon, Kami Senbon, and Oku Senbon with attractive hiking trails, viewpoints, parks, temples & shrines, historic buildings, and food stalls.

There are about 30,000 cherry trees of many different varieties in the slopes of the mountain. Alongside viewing sakura, it’s well worth the visit the national treasure such as Kinpusenji Temple, Yoshimizu Shrine and Yoshimizu Shrine.

I myself believe that one of the many things worth mentioning about the mountain is how lovely everything is. From the beautiful hiking trails that offer you peaceful walk to the observation platforms that provide picture-perfect scenery of pink cherry blossoms.

Please note the full bloom period is between early April and mid April.

2) Himeji Castle, Hyogo

Himeji Castle with cherry blossoms. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Himeji Castle is a Must-See destination in Japan that was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1993. It’s one of the 12 original castles of Japan.

One interesting fact about this castle is that it was never demolished by earthquake, war, or fire. When I think of my favorite places to visit in the Kansai Region, Himeji Castle comes to mind. What about yours?

The castle grounds are large with a lot of things to discover including wooden bridge, gates, hundreds of cherry trees and easy walkways.

Both inner and outer grounds feature many cherry trees, and they look absolutely mind-boggling when they are at full bloom. Early April is the best time to see sakura at Himaji Castle.

The beauty of the castle with sakura can’t be described in words. You can just feel it! As a visitor, you should visit the entire complex of the castle and thus how you discover the castle’s main keep, towers, gates, bridge, gardens, and other buildings.

Go inside the main keep and explore what it stores. It takes about a-10 minute walk from the JR Himaji Station.

3) Kakunodate, Akita

Weeping cherry blossoms at Kakunodate Samurai District, Akita Prefecture. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Kakunodate samurai district (former castle town) is a well-known historic site of Akita Prefecture.

If you are on a mission to experience both cherry blossom and samurai architecture in one single place, this without question is the ideal place to fulfill your dream. Whether it is spring or autumn, a visit to this samurai district would seem to you like stepping back in time.

It’s a great place to visit, blessed with the beautiful samurai houses and hundreds of cherry trees both in the samurai district and the Hinokinai Riverside. This well-preserved samurai village has beautiful streets to walk along.

While taking a walk along the streets you would be mesmerized with the surrounding views of many weeping cherry trees, and hundreds years old samurai residences.

In addition, you are suggested to picnic under the cherry trees found along the banks of Hinokinai River. The sakura trees you see there are not weeping cherry, but famous Somei Yoshino.

No doubt, this is where history comes alive! If you think so then don’t wait anymore, it’s time! Just make a travel plan on your own and head towards this amazing hanami spots. Please note the best time to see sakura here is late April.

Read about the Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival.

4) Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo

Sakura at Shinjuku Gyoen. Photo Credit: Tatters at Flickr

Tokyo is a unique city with fascinating history and many tourist attractions. Most of the people think of visiting either Kyoto or Tokyo when they are to visit Japan for the first time to see cherry blossom.

If you agree with the statement, then there is nothing much to say about Tokyo. To be honest with you, this city has got everything to make your trip a great adventure.

Shinjuku Gyoen is considered one of the largest and popular parks in the city. Because of the time, often foreign visitors are confused which one to visit – Shinjuku Gyoen or Ueno Park?!

Both are exclusive hanami spots in Tokyo and my advice to them is “Visit Shinjuku Gyoen in the morning and stay there until late afternoon, and go to Ueno Park in the evening as sakura trees there are illuminated majestically.”

More than one thousand cherry trees can be found in this park, and they are scattered throughout the park. According to many, during hanami Ueno Park gets crowded, while Shinjuku Gyoen is not, with lots of areas to roam around and enjoy hanami in a peaceful atmosphere.

From late March to early April is said the best time to see sakura there.

5) Kawazu, Shizuoka

Kawazu-zakura! Photo Credit: Norio NAKAYAMA at Flickr.

Located on the east coast of Izu Peninsula, Kawazu is a small town that boats of being one of the most popular earliest blooming sakura viewing spots in the land of the rising sun. Kawazu-zakura, a kind of early blooming sakura is the symbol of the town.

Its bright pink color petal is very appealing to see. You will be happy to know that the town “Kawazu” has approximately 8,000 cherry trees. The river “Kawazu” that runs through the town is lined with thousands cherry trees.

Most of the trees can be found along the banks of the Kawazu River. They start blooming around early February, though the best time to see sakura here is from late February to early March.

With dazzling views of pink Kawazu-zakura, visitors like having various local foods and buying souvenirs from the festival stalls. Trees are lit up in the evening during the festival.

If you are going to visit Tokyo around late February then you should put this hanami spot on your travel bucket list. Don’t you forget that the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival is a must see event in Japan in February, especially for nature lovers.

6) Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Cherry blossoms as Tetsugaku no michi, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Imagine yourself in a scenic place where you are talking a walk along the path lined by sakura trees. That would be an amazing moment for you, won’t it be?

Maybe it’s a dream now, but you can take this dream from imagination to reality right there at Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi) in Kyoto. This is Kyoto’s one of the most recommended cherry blossom viewing spots.

Kyoto is famous for enjoying hanami out there with many sakura viewing spots that are recognized country’s most popular. Choosing Philosopher’s Path ahead of Maruyama Park as top 10 hanami spots in Japan is fair, no doubt!

It’s a two kilometer long stone path (stretches from Nanzenji Temple to Ginkakuji Temple), located northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. It follows a canal that is lined by hundreds of sakura trees.

While walking along the canal, you must admire the beauty of sakura. Besides, explore the temples you find on the way.

Click here to see the most popular hanami spot in Kyoto.

7) Hirosaki Castle Park, Aomori

View of Cherry blossoms and Mt. Iwaki, Hirosaki Castle Park. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Aomori Prefecture has some amazing attractions to make your trip memorable. One of Aomori’s famous seasonal attractions is called Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival.

Usually, the festival takes place between late April and early May at Hirosaki Castle Park. This popular hanami spot often regarded as the best in the Tohoku region.

Tohoku is blessed with many exciting hanami spots together with this one. Therefore, if you somehow miss viewing sakura either in Kanto or Kansai regions, then head towards Tohoku and enjoy beautiful sakura blossoms out there.

Located in the northern part of Honshu Island, this impressive hanami spot offers you an amazing place to picnic under the cherry blossoms. There are about 2,500 cherry trees including food stalls, paths, moats, bridges, and castle main keep to make you amaze with.

The view of Mount Iwaki from the castle grounds is breathtakingly awesome! There is nothing in the park that could make you fell boring.

Alongside viewing sakura, visitors are offered to enjoy pleasant boat trip. While on the other hand, visitors can have some fun with the rental rowing boats in the moats.

Please note this sakura viewing spot is considered one of the best places of shooting sakura in Japan.

8) Matsumae Park, Hokkaido

Matsumae Castle and sakura at Matsumae Park. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

In search of a fantastic picnic spot in Hokkaido in spring, there is one exclusive place that I want you to visit. That’s Matsumae Park!

You will be overwhelmed knowing that Matsumae Park houses 10,000 cherry trees of around 250 different varieties. How cool is that! In this castle park, you find abundance of sakura than Hirosaki Castle Park.

Matsumae Castle, one of Edo period castles in Japan is the only Japanese style castle in the entire Hokkaido region. In comparison with Himeji Castle, the castle keep is far smaller in size, but go beyond when it comes to talking about the total number of cherry trees.

This is obviously the best hanami spot in Hokkaido, though if you ever visit this place; make sure you pay a visit to Hakodate’s Fort Goryokaku. Viewing cherry blossom is also impressive there.

From hanami picnicking to pleasant stroll along the park’s walkways and other important buildings like Kozenji Temple, and Matsumae Shrine, you never know how wonderful trip it would be in the end. Visit the park in early May and you will experience the peak sakura season.

If you are interested in exploring other top cherry blossom spots in Hokkaido, then read this guide.

9) Northern Shores of Lake Kawaguchiko

Majestic view of Mount Fuji! Photo Credit: Midori at Wikimedia Commons.

A visit to Japan without experiencing the majestic views of Mount Fuji sounds like your trip is not over yet, and you still have got something to explore. Lake Kawaguchiko is one of the five beautiful lakes of Fujigoko in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Famous for its longest shoreline of any of the Fuji Five Lakes, amazing view of Mount Fuji, and cherry blossom viewing, Lake Kawaguchiko is a perfect destination for a day trip.

The best area to witness both the sakura and magnificent Mount Fuji views over the lake lies along the promenade, located east of the Kawaguchiko Music Forest.

The surrounding nature of the lake at any time of year is very awe-inspiring, especially when sakura are at full bloom with majestic view of Mount Fuji. There are endless areas to stop by for taking beautiful nature photographs.

10) Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka

Kema Sakuranomiya Park in spring, Osaka. Photo Credit: lasta29 at Flickr.

Osaka is a delightful city where visitors are offered to do a lot of things including culture experiences and activities. If you have never been to Osaka before then it’s going to be a place of wonders.

Cherry blossom in Osaka reaches its peak (best time) is in early April. This is the average sakura forecast of Osaka though time may vary depending on the weather of year.

Kema Sakuranomiya Park is one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan, and top one in Osaka city. It’s a riverside park with approximately 4,800 sakura trees on the banks of Okawa River.

The locals enjoy walking along the walkways of the river banks year-round, but during spring they are accompanied by thousands of foreign visitors.

Some visitors to the park would like to picnic under the cherry blossoms while some would go for a pleasant stroll along the designated walking trails. This park also famous for Yozakura (night sakura) as the sakura trees are lit up magnificently in the evening.

I suggest you to read about the other top hanami spots in Osaka before you arrive in the city. Thank you!