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Article | February 27th, 2024 | Dayna Hannah


When the icy winter winds turn into cool spring breezes, pink clouds of cherry blossoms burst from Japan's sakura trees. From Hokkaido to Okinawa, the fragile flowers welcome in the warm weather.

The cherry blossom season in Japan is a favorite time of year for locals and international travelers alike. Festivals pop up around the country, and people race from south to north to experience the entire season. While the Japanese sakura tree is a worldwide sensation, you might still have a few questions about cherry blossoms.

If you plan to visit Japan during the 2024 cherry blossom season, let's delve into some of your concerns. By the end of this article, you'll be an expert!


If you've never studied Japanese before, let's begin with an introductory lesson. The word for cherry blossom in Japanese is sakura (桜). I'll switch between the two terms throughout this article. Interestingly, sakura is more descriptive; it can refer to cherry blossom flowers, trees, or the delicate flavor of the petals.

"The FLAVOR? Like from cherries? Do cherry blossoms grow cherries?" you might ask.

The Japanese sakura tree does indeed grow small fruits, but they are completely inedible. Cherries come from a similar species of tree, but cherry blossoms grow chrysanthemums—Japan's national flower. Sakura flavor comes from the petals, but more on that later. A more pertinent question is...


When most people think about the cherry blossom season in Japan, images of spring come to mind. That's because the most common type of sakura, Yoshino cherry, blooms during this time of year. However, just saying "spring" doesn't cover the extent of the potential dates of the season!

Japan is 3,008 km (1,869 mi) long and has both subarctic and subtropical climates. They can start blooming as early as January in Okinawa and as late as May in Hokkaido! Depending on your destinations, the best time to see cherry blossoms can vary.


In recent years, rising temperatures and unusual weather patterns have brought us earlier and earlier blooms. The dates tend to fluctuate by just a few days, but unfortunately, it isn't easy to plan a trip around them.

Millions of people come to Japan during the last week of March and the first week of April. However, there's no guarantee they'll bloom on exactly these days. Have no fear! You can always contact us to help guide your booking decisions.

To help you get started, the table below is our average Cherry Blossom Forecast! This forecast provides an average flowering and full bloom date for Japan's major cities based on averages from previous years. Please keep in mind, cherry blossoms are fickle. How long they last can change by several factors, including sudden rain storms or gusts of wind!



Full Bloom


April 30th

May 3rd


April 17th

April 21st


April 2nd

April 8th


March 21st

March 28th


March 29th

April 5th


April 3rd

April 19th


March 19th

March 29th


March 22nd

March 31st


March 24th

April 1st


March 22nd

March 30th


March 23rd

April 1st


March 19th

March 27th


March 21st

March 30th


March 29th

April 9th


Let's break it down! Here are our favorite places to have a hanami from south to north!


The Okinawan archipelago became part of Japan in 1879 and was briefly under U.S. control until 1972. Before this, Okinawa was a separate country called the Ryukyu Kingdom with a distinct culture and language. You can still see influences from Ryukyuan heritage at several sightseeing spots, many of which have cherry blossoms!

Things aren't the same in Okinawa as on mainland Japan. While most places in Japan have Yoshino cherries, the rare Kanhi Zakura variety grows on the southern islands. The flowers grow in a downward direction and have deep shades of pink. You can usually see them between mid-January and early February.

Best Cherry Blossom Festivals in Okinawa in 2024.

With Okinawa being the southernmost island of Japan, cherry blossoms bloom in mid-January, the earliest blossoms in Japan. With the arrival of the blossoms also brings an array of festivals celebrating the coming of spring. These festivals often take place at the top areas to see cherry blossoms in Okinawa. Visitors to these festivals will not only enjoy seeing the brightly-colored cherry blossoms, but will enjoy several performances, food stalls, and a fun atmosphere. We have listed three of Okinawa's top cherry blossom festivals below.

The Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Matsuri is the first annual cherry blossom festival in Japan. It takes place on Mount Yae in Western Motobu Peninsula, which is also home to the Churaumi Aquarium. Over 7,000 cherry trees grow on the summit. This cherry blossom festival typically takes place around January 16th to February 4th.

The capital city Naha holds a sakura festival in Yogi Park, a 15-minute walk from Kokusaidori Street. Over 400 trees bloom along a riverside, which makes for a lovely stroll. In addition to the flowers, you can also see a folk song competition, hula dance performers, and browse the food stalls. Naha Sakura Festival usually take place around February 19th to February 23rd.

The Nago City Cherry Blossom Festival typically takes place during the final weekend of January. With over 20,000 cherry blossom trees, it’s one of Okinawa’s most beloved viewing spots! From the observatory deck, you'll get an expansive view that extends to the shoreline. You can also watch staged events like taiko drumming as well as parades in the city.


The cherry blossom season in Kyushu takes place from late March to early April. However, the exact dates for festivals tend to be a little earlier than the ones further north. Most first-time travelers to Japan hold off on going to Kyushu until their second or third trip. However, we highly encourage you to check out this corner of the country!

Kyushu's Top Cherry Blossom Spots in 2024.

If you love history, Nagasaki is one of the most significant cities to visit. You might recognize the name for its tragic atomic bombing. But before this event, it was the only port in Japan open to foreign trade between the 17th and 19th centuries. You can see where Dutch merchants lived on Dejima Island, and where European and Chinese immigrants would eventually settle.

If you're going to Nagasaki between March 20th and 30th, stop by Omura Park! Omura Park typically hosts a cherry blossom festival between late March to mid-April and is home to 2,000 cherry trees, including the Omura Zakura type. This rose-like chrysanthemum has anywhere between sixty and two hundred petals!

In Fukuoka, a popular spot to enjoy the cherry blossoms is Maizuru Park during late March to mid-April. With over 1,000 cherry blossom trees, visitors to the park can enjoy walking the paths underneath the tunnels of flowers or enjoy a picnic underneath the cherry blossom trees. Guests can also visit the nearby Fukuoka Castle Ruins, where ancient stone walls stand amongst the pastel-colored trees.

In Miyazaki Prefecture, you'll find some of Japan's hidden gems like the Takachiho Gorge and the "Cherry Street" Daramizu Plateau. Around 3,500 sakura trees of varying types grow along either side of the road, making a tunnel-like effect. At the end of March, the city illuminates the blossoms with spotlights from sunset to 10:00 pm.

Kumamoto Castle is one of Japan's most impressive castles, however, during late March and early April, the castle grounds are decorated with the stunning pink and white cherry blossoms. With over 800 cherry trees and a magnificent castle decorating the background, this has become a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. Visitors can take a stroll underneath the pale pink trees lining the roads or relax underneath the trees while enjoying delicious food.

But the real crown for the best places to see cherry blossoms in Kyushu goes to Mifuneyama Rakuen. Approximately 2,000 Yoshino, Oshima, Mountain, and Double-Flowered cherry trees bloom in succession across 120 acres. As if that wasn't enough, 200,000 azaleas also bloom during this time in a symphony of color. The Mifuneyama Rakuen Cherry Blossom Festival usually takes place between March 15th to April 5th.


Sandwiched between the Pacific and the Seto Inland Sea, Shikoku is Japan’s second-smallest island. Most travelers that come here are Buddhists walking along the Shikoku Pilgrimage that runs mostly along the coasts. There are 88 temples on the trail, and the journey takes most people anywhere between 30 to 60 days to complete!

Modern art aficionados also can’t miss Naoshima Island, where contemporary pieces and museums dot the landscape. Architect Tadao Ando designed many of its destinations like the Benesse House, Chichu Art Museum, and the Lee Ufan Museum. You can also spot a few of Yayoi Kusama’s spotted pumpkins.

If you love Japanese-style gardens, Ritsurin Koen Park deserves your attention, particularly during the cherry blossom season. Exactly 320 cherry trees bloom among six lakes and thirteen hills. As you explore the grounds, you can take a break at one of the teahouses and soak in the traditional atmosphere. Ritsurin Koen Park hasn’t released any news about its 2024 cherry blossoms, but the bloom should start in late March.


The Chugoku region makes up the western region of Honshu near the Sea of Japan and the Seto Inland Sea. One of its most famous attractions is the Tottori Sand Dunes, which stretch across a sixteen-kilometer expanse. However, you might be more familiar with Hiroshima City.

On August 6th, 1945, allied forces dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. You can learn about this historic day at the Peace Memorial Park and adjacent museum. Part of the park includes the "Corridor for Peace," where 300 cherry blossoms bloom along the river. You can expect to see cherry blossoms starting to bloom in Hiroshima around March 23rd.

While you're in the area, don't pass up the chance to see Miyajima Island. A 10-minute ferry ride takes you over Osaka Bay to one of Japan's top three most beautiful sights. Here, you can explore Itsukushima Shrine, play with wild deer, and go hiking up Mount Misen. There are around 1,900 cherry trees on Miyajima Island, which usually begin blooming on April 1st.


International tourists aren't the only ones who love the Kansai region. Japanese travelers also can't get enough of the food, fashion, and fun here! School groups make regular trips to Kyoto, young and trendy types shop in Osaka, and pilgrims take retreats to Mount Koya. Whatever your reason for coming to Japan, you can find something for you in Kansai.

Kansai's Top 5 Cherry Blossom Spots 2024.

Osaka Castle is the best place to see cherry blossoms in the city! The spacious Osaka Castle Park attracts thousands of locals to throw down their tarps and have picnics every year. There are around 3,000 trees in total, including 300 Yoshino cherries in the Nishinomaru Garden. One of which determines the official blooming season for Osaka Prefecture (starting around March 24th).

You'll never feel as one with nature as you will in Nara Park—for a city park, that is. Nara is an industrialized town flanked by forested mountains. Todaiji Temple attracts travelers from around the world and wild deer that aren’t shy around humans. Nara Park is also home to about 1700 cherry trees.

Mount Yoshinoyama has remained a top cherry blossom viewing spot for centuries, with over 30,000 cherry trees of different varieties. It is said that the first cherry trees planted here were planted more than 1300 years ago. The trees can be seen during early to mid-April as guests walk the mountain trails, ride the ropeway up the mountainside, or enjoy the pink trees from the nearby town. 

Late March to mid-April brings the beautiful cherry blossom trees to the Himeji Castle grounds. The majestic white castle surrounded by the bright pink flowers is truly picture-perfect. Guests are welcome to stroll the castle grounds, enjoying the seasonal cherry blossoms for free, or pay an entry fee to enter the castle, whose top floor offers magnificent views over the cherry blossom trees.

Our last recommended spot for viewing cherry blossoms is at Hikone Castle, where nearly 1100 cherry trees bloom from early to mid-April. Visitors can enjoy rickshaw rides under the falling petals or relax on one of the boats that will take you around the castle's moat. From the observation deck of the castle, guests can overlook the pink sea of cherry trees adorning the castle grounds.


No matter how many times you come to Japan, you'll never be able to get enough of Kyoto. With culture dripping from every corner, it's like stepping into the Japan you learned about from your history books. It's no wonder so many people flock here when the sakura trees open their petals. The thought of seeing ancient structures surrounded by pink is enough to send anyone into daydreams of spring.

Of course, anyone can also mean everyone. While going to Kyoto during the cherry blossom season is the chance of a lifetime, prepare yourself for contending with crowds. If you don’t hire a guide, make restaurant reservations, and set a budget for taking taxis instead of buses. A little preparation and research will go a long way to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Best Places for Hanami (flower viewing) in Kyoto in 2024.

One way to combat travel stress is to try to stick to locations with wide walking paths like Maruyama Park. It's the perfect place to have a picnic under the shade of a sakura tree. In the center of the park, you'll find a 70-year-old weeping cherry tree. Different places in Kyoto will start holding cherry blossom festivals during the peak bloom.

If you prefer to dash around different trees as you sightsee, consider walking along the Philosopher's Path. In other seasons, this 2-kilometer stretch is just a simple route to get between Ginkakuji and Nanzenji Temple. However, in the spring, it becomes something otherworldly as the cherry blossoms that run along the canal begin to bloom.

Holding cherry blossom viewing parties used to be an activity only the aristocrats could enjoy. In the 16th century, feudal warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi threw hanami parties at Daigoji Temple. You can watch reenactments on the second Sunday of April. The temple complex has around 150,000 Buddhist-related artifacts and 1,000 cherry blossoms on its grounds.

The Arashiyama district on Kyoto's western border deserves a full day to explore. One of the first stops on any tour of this area will be the 400-year-old Togetsukyo Bridge. The bridge provides an expansive view of the mountains where thousands of cherry blossoms start blooming around March 22nd.

Kiyomizu Temple has long been one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. With beautiful views over the city throughout the year, from early to mid-April, cherry blossoms decorate the temple grounds and the city of Kyoto. During this time, the temple also holds a nightly illumination with spotlights shining on the pink trees, a beautiful sight for all guests.


The great thing about Japan's cherry blossom season is that the whole country is celebrating! You don't necessarily need to go to internationally famous viewing spots to have spectacular experiences. If you've been to Japan several times before, you might consider exploring new cities outside of Tokyo to get your fill.

Nikko City is attractive in the fall, but you don't want to miss seeing the cherry blossoms as well. In 1617, Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Nikko Kaido Cherry Blossom Route to create an accessible path between Tokyo and Toshogu Shrine. There are around 1500 sakura trees along the way that typically bloom a little later than the ones in Tokyo. The Nikko Kaido cherry blossoms begin opening around early April.

Ibaraki Prefecture often goes overlooked by travelers, but it deserves your attention for many, many, many reasons. One of those being that Ibaraki doesn't just have the typical Yoshino cherry trees, but also the double-flowering type. As the name suggests, this variety has twice as many petals, and it also lasts longer than the Yoshino trees. Head to Shizumine Park in Nakashi City in mid-to-late April, where 2300 of them grow.

There are around 10,000 cherry blossom trees throughout Sakurayama Park (Gunma Prefecture), 3,000 of which are Yoshinos that bloom in spring. However, the majority of them are Fuyu Zakura, which you can see in mid-October and November. That's right, April isn't your only chance to see cherry blossoms! Fuyu Zakura flowers are sparser than their springtime cousins, but they make a gorgeous contrast against the fiery autumn colors.


If you don't particularly enjoy traipsing around rural areas, you can still enjoy the cherry blossoms in the big city. Despite being a megalopolis, Tokyo has several expansive parks where you'll almost forget that you're in the city at all! The Japan Meteorological Corporation predicts Tokyo's cherry blossoms will reach their full bloom on around March 22nd.

If you've never seen cherry blossoms in Tokyo, the first place you must go is Ueno Park. There are over 1000 trees, most of them lining the pathway between Keisei Ueno Station and the Tokyo National Museum. The branches from either side are so long that they reach out over your head, creating a tunnel-like effect.

Ueno Park isn’t the best place to have a hanami picnic. Most attendees reserve their spots very early in the morning and sit on concrete grounds. As an alternative, head to Yoyogi Park, which has fewer trees than Ueno (700), but has expansive lawns and comfortable grass.

Our suggested list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Shinjuku Gyoen, which has seasonal blooms all year round. There are over a thousand trees here, and the blooming season lasts a little longer than most parts of Tokyo. Note that unlike Ueno and Yoyogi, Shinjuku Gyoen charges a small admission fee and has opening and closing hours.


Nagoya, the largest city in Chubu, expects to see cherry blossoms around the same time as Tokyo and Kyoto. However, that isn't true for the entire area. In mountainous Nagano, the flowering period will begin around April 3rd, and Kanazawa will start to see them around April 29th. The discrepancy is partly due to Chubu’s Kohigan trees that bloom later and last longer in cold climates.

You can see over 1500 Kohigan cherries at Takato Castle Site Park. Along with Hirosaki Castle and Yoshinoyama Park, it is one of the top three places to see cherry blossoms in Japan. The annual cherry blossom festival usually lasts for the entire month of April and includes evening illuminations. In Ina City, the flowering period starts around April 6th.

For those who can’t get enough of Japanese gardens, Kenrokuen is the ideal cherry blossom viewing spot. Along with Mito's Kairakuen and Okayama's Korakuen, it is one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. On the northeastern side, the cherry trees bloom along with seasonal flowers. Kanazawa City typically expects to see the first blossoms around April 29th and the peak viewing period by April 5th.

If you go to Kawazu in April, you'll, unfortunately, miss the city's main cherry blossom festival by a long shot. The area-specific Kawazu Zakura trees bloom in February and March! Despite the cold weather, you'll still see a classic cherry blossom festival with attendees picnicking under the petals. The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival typically runs from the beginning of February to the beginning of March.


Cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji are both iconic images of Japan, and you won't regret spending the sakura season in this area. Naturally, there aren't any trees growing on Mount Fuji's peak, but the cities around her base are chock-full of them! Being a volcano, Fuji created five caldera lakes over the centuries that offer stunning natural views. Also, the small towns near Fuji offer easy-to-access cruises, ropeways, hot springs, and ryokans for travelers.

Fujikawaguchiko and Minobu cities border Lake Kawaguchiko. Cherry blossoms bloom on the northern and eastern shores in mid-April. You can see both sides by boarding one of the lake's sightseeing cruises or riding the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. At this time, Fujikawaguchiko City hasn't announced the dates for the 2024 Kawaguchiko Cherry Blossom Festival.

Near Hakone lies the resort town Gotemba. It sits at 450 meters above sea level, and its temperate climate is a relief for those coming from humid Tokyo. Gotemba Heiwa Koen has majestic views of Mount Fuji and is gorgeous in late March and early April.


The further north you go in Japan, the later the sakura season. The Tohoku region makes up six of Honshu's prefectures and consists mostly of rural communities, national parks, and hot spring resorts. Tohoku has plenty of hidden gems to discover like Shirakawago, the Takayama Spring and Autumn Festivals, and Lake Towada. Depending on which parts you visit, the cherry blossoms can last from mid-April to May.

Around one million people visit Kakunodate every year. Cherry blossoms grow on the Hinokinai River and in the preserved samurai district. During the Edo Period, aristocratic families planted weeping cherry trees to try to outperform each other on cultivation techniques. Now, it's your turn to enjoy their legacies during the cherry blossom festival from April 20th to May 5th.

In the early Taisho Era (1912-1926), the area near and around Kitakami was going through a severe case of deforestation. To combat this, the mayor created an initiative to make a cherry blossom viewing spot that would garner nationwide recognition. Now, 10,000 cherry trees of 150 species and 150,000 azaleas grow in Tenshochi Park. There aren't any announcements about this year's festival yet, but they should be coming soon.

Plenty of castles in Japan like Himeji and Matsumoto are brilliant when their sakura trees bloom. If you're in Tohoku, head to Tsuruga Castle in Aizuwakamatsu. The atmospheric grounds will put you in the mood to try a cup of Japanese matcha at Rinkaku Teahouse. You can expect the cherry blossoms at Tsuruga Castle to bloom sometime between mid-April and May.


More and more people are waking up to the charms of Japan's northern-most island every year! There's always something to see or do any time of year in Hokkaido. From its dazzling winter festivals to its lavender and moss phlox displays in summer, there's never a dull moment.

Hokkaido is also the last area of Japan to experience the cherry blossom bloom. Budget travelers can save by putting off their trip until April 30th You’ll miss the main thrust of the season, but that’s when they’ll start blooming in Hokkaido.

Compared to bustling Tokyo and sophisticated Kyoto, the atmosphere in Sapporo feels homey and laid-back. Although one of Japan's largest cities, Sapporo has plenty of places to catch the cherry blossom bloom. Namely, you can find them around Odori Park, where you can take in the view from the TV Tower Observatory. Or, take it easy in Maruyama Park, where you'll also find Hokkaido Shrine.

Matsumae-jo is the only castle in Hokkaido, and one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in the country. The park surrounding the grounds has over 10,000 cherry trees of different varieties. Because each type has different flowering seasons, you can see them blooming for nearly an entire month. Depending on the peak viewing period, the official Matsumae Park Cherry Blossom Festival takes place from mid-April to mid-May.

The "southern" city Hakodate is your final destination when you take the Shinkansen to Hokkaido. Given its geographical location, Japan established Goryokaku Fort in Hakodate to defend the borders from foreign invasion. It lost its military status in 1910 and opened as a public park soon after with over 1600 Yoshino cherry trees.


The typical lifespan of sakura chrysanthemums is 10-14 days. Depending on the species, they may last longer, but Yoshino cherries bud, bloom, and wilt in this short span. Catching these blossoms might seem incredibly difficult and frustrating to plan an overseas trip around. But their evanescence is part of what makes them so beautiful and significant in Japanese culture.


Japanese people equate several meanings with cherry blossoms, but most notably, they speak to the beauty and fragility of life. The flowers give the lands a sense of renewal as winter thaws into spring, but they only last a short while.

When Japanese people go to a cherry blossom festival, they marvel at the pink flowers and appreciate their impermanence. In Waka poems, writers often note how sakura blooms are similar to life itself. Our time on earth is a spectacular experience, but it's only temporary and sometimes too short.

The burgeoning seasonal change also markets the start of the new school term for students, as well as the fiscal year. For Japanese people, it doesn't make sense to start things according to the calendar. They wait to embark on new ventures and goals as nature tells them. To celebrate, they hold "hanami" parties with their families, friends, and co-workers.


Most international travelers spend their time at cherry blossom festivals dashing around every tree and taking picture after picture. However, Japanese people do quite the opposite. They choose a spot to lay down a blanket to hold a hanami (flower-viewing) party. Most people bring bento boxes they prepare at home, or in some cases, have a full-on barbecue party!

Some parks hold official festivals where vendors sell Japanese street food staples such as chocolate-covered bananas, candied strawberries, and okonomiyaki. But the real treat this time of year is the abundance of sakura-flavored items. I said I would get back to this, didn't I?

Just as Japan's sakura season is temporary, so too are these limited-time-only delights. The petals add a light flavor to treats such as ice cream, candy, and traditional Japanese sweets. Even large companies like McDonald's and Starbucks join in the fun and serve sakura-flavored parfaits and coffees!

Whether you come during the early southern or late northern blooming season, take in every sight along the way. We encourage you to have a picnic under the shade of a sakura tree and stop to smell the cherry blossoms.




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