Cherry Blossom Season In Japan: When And Where To Go

A guide to hanami and cherry blossom festivals.
Cherry blossom (sakura) season is the most beautiful season in Japan. The blooming of the pink and white blossoms heralds the arrival of spring, when hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Japan to participate in the annual cherry blossom festival.

The blooming of the cherry trees is celebrated by the locals, and symbolizes human life, transience and nobleness. It's so famous because it's both spectacular and incredibly short-lived -- the fleeting flowers usually bloom for only about a week after full-bloom, making this seasonal attraction even more cherished.

So when's the best time to visit Japan for hanami (cherry blossom viewing), and where to go?

When do cherry blossoms flower in Japan?

Cherry blossom season varies every year, depending on the weather condition. The cherry trees also bloom at different times throughout Japan, starting in the south and migrating northward over several weeks.

On Japan's southern islands of Okinawa, cherry blossoms open as early as January, while on the northern island of Hokkaido, they bloom as late as May. For most major cities in between, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the cherry blossom season typically takes place in late March to early April.

Because of the short blooming life of cherry trees, it can be tough to plan a trip at the right time in advance. But you can get a cherry blossom forecast: The Japan Weather Association predicts and tracks the cherry blossom season every year -- check out their website (Japanese version) to get this year's forecast.

Where to go for cherry blossom viewing in Japan

There are many parks and famous spots for cherry blossom viewing. Among the most popular are:

  • Matsumae Park (Hokkaido)
  • Hirosaki Park (Aomori)
  • Ka-jo Castle Park (Yamagata)
  • Iwatsuki-koen Park (Saitama)
  • Tokyo Ueno-onshi-koen Park (Tokyo)
  • The Imperial Palace Area (Tokyo)
  • Odawara (Kanagawa)
  • Mt. Minobu (Yamanashi)
  • Takato Castle Ruin Park (Nagano)
  • Kasuga Park (Nagano)
  • Daigo (Kyoto)
  • Sakura-no-miya-koen Park (Osaka)
  • Ko'oriyama Castle (Nara)
  • Mt. Yoshino-yama (Nara)
  • Onomichi (Hiroshima)
  • Mt. Inasa-yama (Nagasaki)

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