Credit: Tripzilla
March 2023

There’s a reason why Japan is the most famous place in the world for seeing cherry blossoms — the sheer number of sakura spots and cherry blossom festivals are incomparable. The Japanese even have a word for it: hanami, which directly translates to “flower viewing.” As the blooming season nears, we’ve put together the most captivating cherry blossom spots in Japan for when it’s your turn for hanami.


1) Osaka

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Take your time exploring Osaka, a playful destination of dazzling colours and gastronomic delights. Springtime draws locals and tourists outside to bask in the natural beauty of sakura trees in some of the city’s most beloved tourist spots.


Cherry blossoms or not, Osaka Castle is the main stop for travellers in town. We can’t deny that there’s something extra-special about seeing the 16th-century castle framed in soft pink florals. Head to the western citadel for a picnic at Nishinomaru Park, while enjoying the views of 4,000 cherry trees dotting the castle grounds.


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The sprawling Expo ’70 Commemorative Park expanse is ideal for picnics and hanami parties, while Osaka Mint showcases a stunning variety of over 100 different types of cherry blossoms. Languid walks in the Kema Sakuranomiya Park are also a favoured activity of local sakura enthusiasts, with nearly 5,000 cherry trees lining the Okawa River.


Flowering time: 28 Mar 2023

Full bloom: 4 Apr 2023


2) Sapporo

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Hailed as the coldest city in Japan, Sapporo transforms from a snowy wonderland in winter to a picturesque pink garden in spring. The stylish capital of Hokkaido may be best known for its famed Snow Festival, but it’s just as beautiful after the snow melts. Travellers who stay long enough to see spring emerge will be rewarded with hundreds of blush-coloured trees in full bloom.


Sapporo teems with plum and cherry blossom viewing spots, but the most famous of the lot is Maruyama Park, along with Hokkaido Shrine right next to it. Lush cherry trees line the sprawling path leading to the shrine, as locals and tourists gather for hanami parties under the shade of the blooms.


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The star-shaped Goryokaku Park is another crowd-favourite; from here, head up Goryokaku Tower, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the landscape. Other must-see nature spots to visit in this city in Japan during cherry blossom season include Nakajima Park, Moerenuma Park, and Odori Park.


Flowering time: 29 Apr 2023

Full bloom: 2 May 2023


 3) Tokyo

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There’s simply no skipping Tokyo during cherry blossom season. For a week or two each year, the vibrant capital transforms into an enchanting pink idyll, where you’ll never run out of new spots for hanami.


Start by hitting the best-known sites, from the lively Ueno Park to the more tranquil Shinjuku Gyoen. Either way, these destinations will keep you enthralled at the sight of over 1,000 cherry trees creating a charming pink setting for hanami.


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Another exceptionally scenic spot is Chidorigafuchi by the Imperial Palace, lush with flourishing pink trees. Here, travellers can enjoy a new perspective of the blooms by paddling little row boats on the water. And at night, few places beat the magic of Meguro River. Hundreds of cherry trees line the river, glowing in soft illuminations as the cherry blossom festival buzzes with fun and food.


Flowering time: 21 Mar 2023

Full bloom: 29 Mar 2023


4) Aomori

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Head to northern Japan to spend the cherry blossom season basking in the natural beauty of Aomori’s blooms. The city is home to a few of the country’s most famous sakura spots, including the renowned Hirosaki Park.


A must-see for sakura lovers chasing cherry blossoms across Japan, the park is home to about 2,600 cherry trees of over 50 different varieties. In spring, you’ll find yourself engulfed in a dreamy scenery filled entirely with pink petals. Notable sights on the property include the oldest yoshino cherry tree in Japan and the majestic Hirosaki Castle — framed by cherry-hued blooms, of course.


Expect crowds if you drop by during the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival, as the event attracts more than two million visitors every year. Still worth it? Definitely.


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If you’re staying in Aomori for more than just a few days, take the opportunity to peep at other cherry blossom hotspots in the city. We recommend Ashino Park and Tsugaru Fujimi Lake, before heading to the 20-kilometre cherry blossom tunnel at the foot of Mt. Iwaki.


Flowering time: 18 Apr 2023

Full bloom: 22 Apr 2023


5) Nara

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Not only does historic Nara have adorable deer and striking temples, but it also features awe-inspiring cherry blossoms.


A long-time standout is Mt. Yoshino, which has been Japan’s most famous sakura viewing spot for centuries. In spring, 30,000 cherry trees cover the mountain, turning the sweeping slopes into a striking patchwork of pink and green. Divided into four parts, Mt. Yoshino has parks, gardens, shrines, temples, and touristy towns bustling with local life. Popular hanami spots include Naka Senbon Park and Hanayagura Viewpoint.  


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The impossibly thick forests of cherry blossoms on Mt. Yoshino may catch most tourists’ eyes, but Nara Prefecture is home to more than just one renowned sakura spot. Along the Takada River is the famous site of Takada Senbonzakura, a nickname that literally translates to “the thousand cherry blossoms of Takada.” Meanwhile, Nara Park continues to be a popular tourist draw, with friendly deer grazing under the shade of the great pink trees.


Other notable hanami spots in Nara are the Yamato-Koriyama Castle Ruins, Ishibutai Kofun, and Buzan Kagurain Hasedera.


Flowering time: 3 Mar 2023

Full bloom: 6 Apr 2023


6) Kyoto

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Any trip to Japan during cherry blossom season must include a visit to sakura-loving Kyoto. The country’s ancient capital becomes a field of pink blooms for a few weeks each spring, with castles, temples, shrines, and rivers providing a brilliant backdrop to the experience.


Maruyama Park is an iconic hanami spot, with hundreds of cherry trees and the famous Weeping Cherry of Gion illuminated every night. Heian Shrine is also acclaimed for its radiant 30,000-square-metre garden that’s one of the best places in Japan to see large numbers of weeping cherry trees.


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Not too keen on parks? Try a stroll along the Philosopher’s Path to admire hundreds of blossoming trees along the famous road. For a more spectacular experience in nature, visit the Arashiyama district for a glimpse of the blush-coloured vista. Tip: Take the Sagano Scenic Railway to Arashiyama for exceptional views passing under sakura trees.


At Daigoji Temple, you’ll find over a thousand cherry trees in vibrant bloom. This is where famous samurai Hideyoshi famously hosted a hanami party in the 16th century — so really, you’re carrying on a samurai’s tradition. Toji Temple, Ninnaji Temple, and Hirano Shrine are a few other spaces in Kyoto that are well-known as hanami venues. 


Flowering time: 27 Mar 2023

Full bloom: 4 Apr 2023




7) Nagano

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Take your sakura journey to Nagano next, a place of magnificent mountains, regal castles, and sprawling gardens.


Your first stop is Takato Castle Ruins Park, often regarded as one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. Here, travellers roam the old castle grounds framed in flourishing flowering trees. 


Part of Takato’s allure is the unique variety of cherry trees found in the park: Known as takato kohiganzakura, these blossoms are a little smaller than the more common type but bloom into a deeper, more eye-catching shade of pink. Venture in the park at full bloom and witness trees that grow full and fluffy enough to blot out the sun.


Image credit: Go! Nagano, Japan Official Facebook Page


If you can’t get enough of castles framed by cherry blossoms, there are plenty of other gorgeous castles in Nagano to explore during the sakura season. For one, the 16th-century Ueda Castle is home to two shrines, pleasant park grounds, and a thousand cherry trees in bloom in spring. There’s also the historic Matsumoto Castle with its sweeping views of the Japanese Alps.


Image credit: Go! Nagano, Japan Official Facebook Page


Nature lovers can make their way to Oide Park in the Hakuba Valley to see the pink sakura trees set against the backdrop of the mighty Japanese Alps and bright blue skies. Garyu Koen is also a picturesque hanami spot that’s worth checking out when you’re in Nagano.


Flowering time: 6 Apr 2023

Full bloom: 11 Apr 2023


 8) Fukuoka

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Finally, discover peak photo opportunities in Fukuoka, one of the most fantastic places in Japan to enjoy the cherry blossom season. With sunny parks, perfect spring weather, and amazing street food, the city is absolutely perfect for indulging in hanami.


Hop on a bike and spend a day cruising around the lush Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, a sprawling expanse with an amusement park, campgrounds, playgrounds, and flower gardens. Here, 2,000 cherry trees share the spotlight with colourful tulips and other vibrant flora.


Image credit: JCS Chen


More Fukuoka parks set the stage for a memorable sakura season. Awash in cherry hues, the hillside Nishi Park is a gem for hanami parties, with sweeping views of Hakata Bay and Shikanoshima Island. On the other hand, the ancient stone walls of the Fukuoka Castle Ruins offer a picture-perfect contrast to a thousand bright cherry blossoms dotting Maizaru Park.


Hike to the scenic Aburayama’s Citizen Forest for an unspoiled peek at the cherry blossoms on Mt. Abura. If you’re willing to take a trip beyond Fukuoka, trekking Mt. Shiude is a fun challenge with spectacular views of cherry blossoms during sunset that will leave you in awe.


Flowering time: 24 Mar 2023

Full bloom: 2 Apr 2023


It's always a delight to explore Japan, but cherry blossom season promises even lovelier sights to enjoy. With the entire country in a canopy of pink blooms, hopping from region to region is more rewarding than ever. Luckily, it’s also easier to achieve travel goals now — especially with a little help. 


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