Cherry blossoms are a widely celebrated flower in Japan, known as "sakura", and are significant in Japanese history. These short-lived pink flowers symbolize life, friendship, and are a cultural landmark of Japan itself.
It is during the spring time that the cherry blossoms are in season. The popularity of the cherry tree has brought in millions of travelers to Japan during this blossom period. Throughout history, the beauty of the cherry blossoms inspired many artworks and became an iconic symbol of the country. Sakura is regarded as a metaphor for life, reminding people the fragility of impermanence. Even though the life of the cherry blossom is short, it is all the more reason to enjoy them to the fullest. Sakura holds a deeper cultural meaning than its charming appearance.
The Japanese cherry blossom (sakura) has been a distinguished symbol of Japan for many centuries. Cherry blossoms signal a time of renewal and also coincide with the Japanese calendar year. When the flowers are in bloom, the people of Japan begin their new jobs and students enter a new school year. The season invokes feelings of hope and optimism as people set out to start a new chapter in their lives. The most commonly seen variety of the tree are the Yoshino cherry blossoms. To point out, cherry blossom trees do not in fact produce cherries or any kind of fruit. They are for ornamental use, but there are sakura flavored products you can try.
When is the Cherry Blossom Season in Japan?
The blooming season for cherry blossoms beings in the south and makes its way to the north. This is due to the warmer climates being located in the south. Additionally, in low-altitude regions the sakura trees bloom much later when compared to higher altitude areas. The list below shows the general dates for when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom.
|Kyushu||Late March - Early April|
|Shikoku||Late March - Early April|
|Hiroshima||Late March - Early April|
|Himeji||Late March - Early April|
|Osaka||Late March - Early April|
|Kyoto||Late March - Early April|
|Kanazawa||Mid-April - Late April|
|Takayama||Mid-April - Late April|
|Tokyo||Late March - Early April|
|Sendai||Mid-April - Late April|
|Hakodate||Late April - Early May|
|Sapporo||Late April - Early May|
Note: You are not guaranteed to see cherry blossoms during these approximate dates due to fluctuating weather conditions that can affect the blooming period.
Early blooming Cherry Blossoms
Majority of the time, the blooming period for cherry blossoms usually occurs between late March to early May. However, there are early blooming varieties that appear as early as January. The Atami cherry blossoms, for example, are a unique species that are resistant to cold weather. They are originally native to India, but were introduced in 1871 by Italians. The locals of Atami continued to plant this variety all over the city. Kawazu Cherry Blossoms are another variety that starts its blooming as early as February. This variety was first discovered in the 1950s in the Kawazu area. Efforts were made to plant these specific sakura trees all over the city.
Hanami translates to "flower viewing" and has been a popular way to enjoy the blossoms of sakura. It is a centuries-old custom, which is said to have originated from the Nara Period (710-794). During the night, places like Ueno Park hang paper lanterns to illuminate the cherry blossoms. This tradition is known as "yozakura", or night cherry blossoms. Hanami also comprises of picnic parties to add to the enjoyment of the season. Of course, there are a few manners to follow when having a hanami flower party. Picnic spots are on a first come first serve basis, but check if the park or area allows you to have a hanami party. In order to reserve a spot, you must have a mat and someone present to reserve it for the group. Normally, there is no garbage bin nearby, so it is highly encouraged to bring a bag with you to properly dispose your trash.
Japanese Cherry Blossom Festivals
To add to the experience of seeing the beautiful sakura trees, there are frequent festivities that take place in various areas of Japan. Enjoy the food, games, and entertainment of the cherry blossom festivals. The dates of these festivals vary depending on the blooming period of the cherry blossoms. Festival vendors sell a wide range of delicious foods and sweets for patrons during the flowers' celebration. There are also numerous games and acitvities with prizes for people to win, such as a balloon or goldfish. This would be a great opportunity to pick up regional souvenirs or seasonal goods at these festivals. Depending on the region, you may get a chance to see unique performances hosted by locals.
The Miyako Odori is an exceptional dance show performed by maiko (apprentice geisha) and geisha (courtesans). From April 1 to 30, visitors will have the opportunity to appreciate the cherry blossom dance that is annually held during those dates. Enjoyed by both Japanese people and foreigners, shows are quickly sold out due to its popularity. Miyako Odori can be seen at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theatre in Kyoto, where many seating options are available. If the Miyako Odori is unavailable for any reason, we will observe similiar shows in Kyoto, such as the Kitano Odori, the Kyo Odori, or at the Gion Corner.
Tours including Miyako Odori in Kyoto
Takayama Spring Festival
Experience one of the top three most beautiful festivals in Japan, the Takayama Spring Festival, held annually on April 14th and 15th. Twelve antique floats (yatai) are the centerpiece of the festival and showcase the craftsmanship of Takayama dating back hundreds of years ago. Enjoy the cherry blossom atmosphere as the lavishly decorated floats are pulled through the streets of Old Town. The evening festival (yomatsuri) is considered the most popular highlight by visitors.
Tours including Takayama Spring Festival
#1 Matsumae Park (Matsumae)
Take delight in viewing over 10,000 cherry trees in bloom at the Matsumae Park Cherry Blossom Festival. Held from the end of April to late May, there are over 250 varieties of the sakura flower you can admire, allowing a month long blooming period. Here you can visit the local cherry blossom museum, where you can learn about the flower's development and all of its specimens planted in the park. Enjoy local food specialties plus more during your visit to Matsumae Park.
Tours including Matsumae Park
#2 Hakodate (Hokkaido)
Hakodate is known for its scenic views seen from Mount Hakodate and its star-shaped park known as Fort Goryokaku. Previously a military citadel, Fort Goryokaku now serves as a public park. It is regarded as the best spot in Hokkaido for viewing cherry blossoms. Over a thousand cherry trees are planted along its moats, and the peak blooming period usually takes place around early May. You can enjoy a bird's eye view from the observation deck at Goryokaku Tower.
Tours including Hakodate
#3 Ueno Park (Tokyo)
Ueno Park is a renowned cherry blossom viewing spot in Tokyo with over 1,000 cherry trees planted along the central pathway. The park is one of the most popular and crowded sites, where many people reserve spots for a hanami (flower viewing) picnic. Enjoy the illumination of over a thousand paper lanterns hung from cherry trees during the beautiful night festival. Ueno Park also features many museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum, the National Science Museum, and more.
Tours including Ueno Park
#4 Kenrokuen Garden (Kanazawa)
Kenrokuen Garden is one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan. Around mid-April you can view cherry blossom trees planted alongside streams through the northeastern side of the garden. Discover teahouses, bridges, ponds, hidden nooks, the famous Kotojitoro Lantern, and Japan's oldest fountain. Stroll through the lovely pedestrian way just outside of the garden, another cherry blossom spot lined with cherry trees, shops, and restaurants.
Tours including Kanazawa
#5 Miho Museum (Koka)
The Miho Museum was designed by the famed I.M. Pei, which houses the extensive art collection of the Shumei Family. Visitors can saunter through the museum's underground tunnel. When you reach the end of it, you will be greeted by a road lined with 80 cherry blossom trees. This makes an excellent spot to enjoy the blooming season. The museum itself is renowned for its impressive architecture beautifully incorporated into the surrounding nature.
Tours including Miho Museum
#6 Kiyomizu Temple (Kyoto)
Experience cherry blossom viewing from one of Japan's most celebrated temples, the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. The temple is famous for its large wooden stage built 13 meters above a scenic hillside. From here, overlookers can view numerous cherry blossom trees down below, along with views of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall features an eleven-faced statue of Kannon, the temple's primary object of worship. Visitors can also check out the Jishu Shrine and the Otowa Waterfall.
Tours including Kiyomizu Temple
#7 Maruyama Park (Kyoto)
Maruyama Park is a popular hanami (flower viewing) spot during the cherry blossom season. It is a public park that centers around a 70 year old weeping cherry blossom tree (shidarezakura). At night, the shidarezakura is illuminated for everyone to enjoy during the sakura period. Patrons enjoy their hanami parties with beer, sake, and food underneath the illuminated petals. The park's layout features walkways, bridges, ponds, and more throughout the area.
Tours including Maruyama Park
#8 Himeji Castle (Himeji)
Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, stands as one of the twelve original castles in Japan. The castle is renowned for its enormous size and well-preserved elegance. Comprised of 83 buildings, it is one of the best examples of 17th century Japanese architecture. Cherry blossoms can be found in the third bailey area also known as Sannomaru. The Sannomaru features a large lawn lined with cherry trees, a popular spot for photographs and cherry blossom viewing.
Tours including Himeji Castle
#9 Miyajima Island (Hiroshima)
Miyajima Island is home to the famous Itsukushima Shrine, known for its unique "floating" torii gate built over water. The gate is ranked as one of Japan's three best scenic views. This small island outside of Hiroshima has concentrations of cherry blossom trees found around the shrine, walking paths, and near the Tahoto Pagoda. Miyajima Island possesses a romantic atmoshphere, offering many rewarding sights to see and things to do.
Tours including Miyajima Island
#10 Mifuneyama Rakuen (Kyushu)
Mifuneyama Rakuen is a park that highlights its 5,000 cherry blossom trees and 50,000 azalea bushes. The park spans over 150,000 square meters, which is equal to about 10 Tokyo Domes. Built as part of Nabeshima Shigeyoshi’s holiday home, it was styled to enjoy a stroll through the artistic arrangement of flowers. You can enjoy a scene of vibrant hues of pink, white, purple, and red during the spring time. At night, Mifuneyama Rakuen is beautifully illuminated, a sight to behold.
Tours including Mifuneyama Rakuen
Looking for a chance to see the cherry blossoms in Japan? Select a tour that suits your schedule and preferences. Our Cherry Blossom Tours highlight the best places to see the famous pink petals. The blooming period for the flower is brief, so don't miss a chance to see them this year. Our tours include the most popular sites like Ueno Park, Maruyama Park, Matsumae Park, Mifuneyama Rakuen, Kiyomizu Temple, and many more. Experience the cultural aspects of Japan by having the opportunity to see the Miyako Odori in Kyoto or enjoy the festivities of the Takayama Spring Festival.
Our Cherry Blossom Tours highlight the best Japan has to offer of the flower. During the short blooming period, be astounded by the beauty of the pink petals as you venture to the cities known for their cherry blossom trees.
Group Tour | Deluxe-Plus Book Now & Save $300
Group Tour | Deluxe-Plus Book Now & Save $300
8 Days 7 Nights | from US $14998.00 (Limit to 6 guests)
8 Days 7 Nights | from US $14998.00 (Limit to 6 guests)
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