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10 Places You Can Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Japan is known for plenty of noteworthy things, but nothing strikes a more picturesque image than the country’s famous cherry blossom season.

Cherry blossoms in Japan do not simultaneously bloom in every region. Generally, there are two major considerations when attempting to capture the perfect day to watch the cherry blossoms fall—one is that the blossoms sweep upwards, from south to north.

This means cherry blossoms open as early as January in Japan’s southernmost areas, like Okinawa. Conversely, in cold northern cities like Hokkaido, you could be seeing cherry blossoms as late as May.

The second consideration is temperature. If it gets too warm or cold, it could affect the time of bloom. Please double-check Japan’s annual cherry blossom forecast for an accurate booking.

Check out the best places and time to go cherry blossom viewing in Japan:

2020 Japan Cherry Blossoms Map

 

1. Yoshino Park (Kagoshima City)

Best time to visit: Mid-March until mid-April

Yoshino Park Kagoshima
Editorial Credit: Alexander Gatsenko / Shutterstock.com

This park covers 30ha of ground, with over 70,000 flowers spread amongst 140 other varieties, aside from cherry blossoms.

Yoshino Park also boasts of a 234-meter hill that overlooks the other side of the Kinko Bay and the Mt. Sakurajima, a daunting volcano of the Kyushu region.

The best part about this park is that they house 11 types of cherry blossom trees, so the blossoms can start early, though depending on the type of blossom, you could see them open until April!

Park opening hours vary depending on the month of your visit, though they start closing at 5PM from November to February.

  • Location: Kagoshima City (Kyushu)
  • How to get there: From the Kagoshima Chuo Station, take the Nangoku Kotsu Bus that’s bound for Yoshino Koen. This will take you about 25 minutes.

Don’t confuse this park with Mount Yoshino, another spot famous for cherry blossoms. Staying in Osaka? Book a tour of Mount Yoshino for a hassle-free trip.

2. Isshingyo Park

Best time to visit: Late March until early April

Isshingyo Sakura Aso Kumamoto

This famous landmark is special, thanks to the ancient cherry blossom tree that can be found here. It’s more than 400-years old and is 14 meters high.

The blossoms on this tree have a pale pink shade, which contrasts well with the rape blossoms which cover the surrounding field—if you’re lucky, the whole park will bloom at the same time.

Aside from this picturesque scene, don’t miss the cherry blossom milk pudding, sakura dango (grilled rice cakes), colored sushi bowls, and the traditional inari sushi pocket snacks being sold all over the park.

  • Location: Kumamoto (Kyushu)
  • How to get there: Most locals will recommend public transport during the peak season of spring, since there’s a lot of traffic. The nearest stations are Hakusui Kogen or Nakamatsu on the Minamiaso Line. From there, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the park.

 

3. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park

Best time to visit: Late March until early April

Uminonakamichi Seasaide Park

This is a family-oriented park that has some of the most breathtaking views of not just the flowers, but the surrounding sea as well.

Located on a narrow peninsula across the bay from the central area of Fukuoka, this park is larger than most, with several areas dedicated to themed flower gardens, playgrounds, water parks, and zoos.

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is open all year round, showcasing different varieties of flowers according to season. From November to February, they operate between 9:30 AM until 5 PM. They are closed on December 31, January 1, and the first Monday and Tuesday of February.

The admission fee is JPY450, but it won’t hurt to bring extra cash for activities or treats that you’d want to spend on.

  • Location: Fukuoka
  • How to get there: If you want to go by train, take the JR Kashii Line and stop at Uminonakamichi Station. The park is adjacent from there. You may also take the municipal ferry from Bayside Place to Saitozaki Tosenjo (the ferry terminal), and walk to the park. Another option is to take the Uminaka Line (a jet ferry liner) from Momochi to Uminonakamichi Tosenjo, then walk. If you’re traveling via bus, get off at the Marine World stop of the Nishitetsu Bus line, and walk to the park.

 

4. Philosopher’s Path

Best time to visit: Early April

Philosopher’s Path Kyoto

This is not a park, but it is one of the more popular tourist destinations where you can see the cherry blossoms at their finest.

The Philosopher’s Path is a stone path that traverses the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district.

It lies between the iconic Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) and Nanzen-ji, so you can actually hit three destinations in one walking tour. The name is unique in that pays homage to a man named Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s famous philosophers.

Walking along the Philosopher’s Path is free. There are plenty of restaurants, cafés, and boutiques that can be found along the path.

To make it more fun, wear a kimono while exploring the place.

  • Location: Kyoto
  • How to get to Ginkaku-Ji: Go to Kyoto Station, take the #5 bus, or the Raku Bus #100. Travel time is 25 minutes and fare is about JPY220. Walk to the stone path.
  • How to get to Nanzen-ji: Walk from the Keage subway station (on the Tozai Line).
  • How to get to Philosopher’s Path: Stop at Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Line, and walk for about 20 minutes. Go out to Imadegawa Dori from the station, walk away from the river and toward the mountains in the distance. Walk straight up the street, passing Kyoto University on your right. From there, signs will be pointing you in the right direction.

Looking for other cherry blossom spots in Kyoto? Go on a full-day tour and visit Ninna-ji, Tenryu-ji, Kitano Tenmangu, and many other sakura spots.

 

5. Kema Sakuranomiya Park

Best time to visit: Late March to early April

Kema Sakuranomiya Park Osaka

This well-known hanami spot has topped plenty of lists as one of the best places in Osaka to see the cherry blossoms.

Over four kilometers of park stretch alongside the peaceful Ogawa River, and along the riverbank are the cherry blossom trees that grow as far as the eye can see.

According to a recent count, there are about 4,500 cherry trees around the park, which makes it great for picnics, jogging, walking, or just hanging out with friends and family.

There is no entrance fee for this park, and it is a PWD-friendly area.

  • Location: Osaka
  • How to get there: By train, go to Osaka or Umeda Station. Ride the JR Osaka Loop Line. After two stops, alight at Sakuranomiya Station. Head to the nearby riverbank of Ogawa River by foot.

 

6. Takato Castle Ruins Park

Best time to visit: Early to mid-April

Takato Castle Ruins Park Nagano

Some have claimed this park to be one of the three best locations in all of Japan to view cherry blossoms.

Located on a hill in Ina City, there are about 1,500 cherry trees that have grown across the park, all of which were assumed to have been planted in 1875 when the park was first made public.

And although the original castle is mostly gone, there are still plenty of things to see that will make the trip worthwhile.

During mid to late April, the park is illuminated from sunset until 10 PM, and there are still some buildings where you can sit and take a break.

At the southern end of the park is the Shinsu Takato Art Museum, which hosts temporary exhibitions. The admission fee is JPY550 during the cherry blossom season, but admission is free during any other time of year.

  • Location: Nagano
  • How to get there: Take the JR Azusa Limited Express Train from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station to Chino Station (this will be a two-hour ride and will cost JPY5500 for a one-way ticket.)
  • Travel tip: During the cherry blossom season, there’ll be a JR run bus from Chino Station to Takato Bus Station (JPY1390 for a one-way, 50-minute trip), then you’ll have to walk 15 minutes to the park. If you have the JR Rail Pass and the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass, these are covered costs.

 

7. Shinjuku Gyoen

Best time to visit: Mid-March to late April

Shinjuku Gyoen Park

The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of the largest parks in Japan, and has multiple zones to explore, all with lush foliage and flora.

Despite the crowds that come flocking here during springtime, it remains peaceful and serene, perfect for relaxing and enjoying a picnic on the grass.

When you’re finished with one area, go ahead and stroll toward the English or Japanese themed gardens.

And since there are more than 1,000 cherry trees spread across the park, many of them bloom at varying times so you’ll always catch an area in the park with blossoming flowers.

The entrance fee is JPY200.

  • Location: Tokyo
  • How to get there: The park is a 10-minute walk east of the New South Exit of the JR Shinjuku Station. You can also take the Marunouchi Subway, stop at the Shinjukugyoenmae Station, and walk five minutes to the park. Taking the Chuo/Sobu Line is also an option—just stop at JR Sendagaya Station.

Want to do more than just gaze in awe of cherry blossoms? Why not go on a cherry blossom river cruise or book a tour that also has strawberry picking on its itinerary?

 

8. Hanamiyama Park

Best time to visit: April

Hanamiyama Park Fukushima

Originally started by local farmers who used to plant ornamental flora and flowering trees along the hillside of central Fukushima, the park was made official and open to the public in 1959 and has since become one of the country’s best cherry blossom viewing spots.

Thousands make their way to Hanamiyama Park for the unfiltered beauty of nature. There are also different types of cherry trees here, so the colors of the cherry blossoms will vary once they bloom.

There is no entrance fee.

  • Location: Fukushima
  • How to get there: If you’re going by train, get off at JR Fukushima Station, which is 15 minutes away from the park. You may also take the shuttle buses that run between the Fukushima Station and the Hanamiyama Park during the peak season (early to late April only). A one-way ticket costs JPY250 and the buses depart every 15 to 30 minutes.

 

9. Moerenuma Park

Best time to visit: Mid-May

Moerenuma Park Sapporo

Designed by the artist Isamu Noguchi in 1988, this is probably the best place to see cherry blossoms all at once, since there is one section of the area that is a dedicated, dense grove of just cherry trees.

Because of the climate of the northern area of Japan, the flora here is slightly different and will bloom later than most.

Moerenuma Park is quite modern and sleek compared to the other contenders on the list.

Some of its man-made structures include the Play Mountain, the Hidamari glass pyramid, the Atrium, and Mount Moere, a 62-meter tall project built specifically for the park so you can view the flowers and the surrounding areas from above.

To help visitors cover more ground, you may also rent a bike for JPY100 per hour. Admission is free.

  • Location: Sapporo
  • How to get there: Take the Toho Subway Line to Kanjodori-higashi Station. Take the local bus afterward (#69 or #79 to the Park’s east entrance, for JPY210 one way). The ride is 25 minutes long. Make sure to take the east entrance as it is the one they open all year long.

 

10. Matsumae Park

Best time to visit: Late April to late May

Matsumae Park

Rounding out the list is Matsumae Park, which has 250 species of cherry trees. It is home to around 10,000 cherry trees.

Visitors can enjoy hanami here from late April until the end of May. The Hokkaido heritage-certified Matsumae Castle, Tsugaru Strait, and the cherry blossoms themselves are lit after sunset.

  • Location: Hokkaido
  • How to get there: From the JR Kikonai Station, ride the Hakodate bus bound for the Matsumae branch. Get off at Matsushiro. The park is a 10-minute walk from there.

Enjoy more of Japan and explore Tokyo’s tourist attractions.

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