The 5 Best Places to see Cherry Blossom in Japan

May 20, 2020 | Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Japan, Travel Tips

This is it. Your bucket list item. You’re travelling to one of the most unique and exciting places in the world, Japan in Cherry Blossom season!

So, the trees are only in bloom for about 10 days – how will you experience sakura and snap that once in a lifetime shot when you haven’t even been to the country before? No fear. We’ve got you covered!

Before we get to the locations, the first thing to do is breathe. Relax & feel at ease knowing that it is much easier than you think to experience this wonderful part of Japanese culture. Soon enough, you’ll have seen the blossoms with your own eyes, got the shot and will be sipping on a hot bowl of ramen at a traditional izakaya (read: a traditional Japanese bar), immersed in the culture of the land of the rising sun. 

As a guide in Japan I get inquiries often during Cherry Blossom season from guests who haven’t arrived in the country yet. Here is my most valuable piece of information that people don’t know… Cherry Blossom trees are everywhere in Japan! That’s right, provided you’re visiting during the right season, you literally couldn’t avoid seeing these stunning trees if you tried.   

But if the exact full bloom date is unpredictable and it only lasts 10 days, how will you know the right time to book your Japan guided tour? 

Full bloom in general happens around the first week of April. In 2020, it was April 4th and in 2019 it was March 29th. But the best part about Sakura season in Japan? Cherry blossoms bloom in warmer weather first. Since Japan has varying climates ranging from subtropical to subarctic, they don’t all bloom in the same place at once! This gives you flexibility, and a higher chance to see them if you travel around the country during this time. You may even get a window of up to one week from full bloom in Osaka to full bloom in Tokyo. 

So what does all this mean? If you desperately want to see Cherry Blossom in your Japan trip, you have the chance of seeing them all the way from February around the south, to April in the north! To play it safe, our suggestion would be to plan at least two weeks for your visit to Japan. This would be your best bet to have your amazing adventure on the mainland from Tokyo to Osaka/Hiroshima, and get to experience the full bloom.

Now we’ve put your mind at ease, let’s talk about the best places to find them!

1. NARA – MT YOSHINO

The first cherry trees were planted almost 1300 years ago on the mountainsides here & there are thousands of them. Literally, 30,000! Osaka is the closest main city and it is possible to take the train there which is around 90 minutes and fairly cheap.

Mt Yoshino in full bloom

2. LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO

One of the best shots next to Mt Fuji, that’s right, what better view than the cherry blossom trees & the celebrated tallest mountain in Japan. Kawaguchiko is accessible from Tokyo and is around a two and a half hour journey by train and bus from Shibuya station

 Cherry blossoms border Lake Kawaguchiko

3. KYOTO – PHILOSOPHER’S PATH 


Hundreds of cherry blossoms follow this path for almost 2km.  Only 45 minutes away from our accommodation in the centre of Kyoto! Easily one of the most beautiful spots. Go early to beat the crowds.

Sakura season along one of Kyoto’s most iconic walkways


4. TOKYO – SHINJUKU GYOEN

Right inside Tokyo’s own Shibuya is this famous park, around 1000 cherry blossoms bloom here in a 50 hectare area with tea houses, ponds, and beautiful viewing areas.  Many Japanese families come to participate in “Hanami” – having picnics and relaxing under the trees. This means it will be busy, but seeing traditional hanamis during Sakura season is a beautiful part of Japanese culture you don’t want to miss.

Cherry blossoms take center stage in one of Tokyo’s most popular parks


5. OSAKA CASTLE PARK

Osaka castle is an impressive enough site as it is, but add 3000 cherry blossom trees to the mix and it couldn’t be more picture perfect. Osaka castle is also famous for its plum blossoms, an absolute must-see.

3000 cherry blossom trees flower around Osaka Castle’s surrounding park


There you have it! Some of the best viewing spots in the land of the rising sun.  

While these cherry blossom spots are all beautiful, I just want to point out that some of the best spots might just be your own personal discoveries. As I already mentioned, the trees are literally everywhere! You might run into a pair of trees near a river where the light hits it so perfectly you forget to even take your camera out. Or maybe you’ll just bump into a perfect Japanese moment where you see local kids running around a cherry blossom tree laughing and enjoying the experience for themselves.

My personal favourite spot has to be in Nara, I just so happened to come across some deer grazing under a tree as a breeze came and the petals flew by our faces. No crowds, just myself and my group of guests. It was a moment I’ll never forget.


Cherry blossoms take center stage in one of Tokyo’s most popular parks


Thinking about visiting Japan in 2021 to see the cherry blossoms? Check out our Japan tour deals hereYou can join us from Tokyo to Osaka, or stick with the group and venture all the way to Hiroshima with us.

WRITTEN BY: Michael Keays

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