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Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Japan: When and where to see Japanese cherry blossom sakura

Cherry blossoms in Japan bloom during the school graduation and entrance period and the cherry blossom can be considered the representative spring flower of Japan.

Cherry blossoms are characterised by the fact that they are attached to relatively short branches. Depending on the species, the colour of cherry blossoms can be white, light pink, or dark pink. Petals can be single or double. Some types of cherry trees bear red fruits around June.

Find out all about the different flowers in Japan you can enjoy throughout the year here. Check out what, when and where to see these flowers here: Cherry Blossoms, Tulips, Azaleas, Roses, Poppies, Salvia, Hydrangea, Iris, Lavender, Indian Lotus, Sunflowers, Ume and Moss phlox.

What is Cherry Blossom 

Cherry Blossoms in Japan What is Cherry Blossom 

There are many varieties of cherry blossom trees, which are representative spring flowers in Japan. 

There are about 15 types of wild cherry trees and more than 300 varieties of cherry trees that have been bred. The typical Japanese cherry blossom tree is the Somei Yoshino variety, which is light red in colour. They are planted in gardens of ordinary households, public parks and streets. 

Kawazu-zakura, a single-flowered cherry tree with dark red flowers, blooms from late February. There are also the Oshima-zakura, which has large blossoms, and the Miyama-zakura, which is characterised by its small blossoms.

Types of Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Types of Cherry Blossoms

Various types of cherry blossoms bloom at different times, but most cherry blossoms in Tokyo reach their peak at the end of March or the beginning of April. 

During this period, the atmosphere of the city changed. Just as spring brings new life and new beginnings, the soft scent of cherry blossoms brings liveliness and optimism to the city. 

Cherry blossoms become the topic of everyday conversation, and people can be seen stopping on the streets to take pictures of cherry blossoms from various angles. 

In stores, products and décor are transformed into pink floral garb, and cherry blossom-flavoured snacks and drinks adorn the menus. And the cherry blossom-themed Starbucks drinks have a devoted following!

Cherry blossom festivals are held in many parks and castle grounds throughout Japan, and their beauty is appreciated around the world. Popular in traditional art, paintings, wallpaper, and even tattoos, this delicate and fragile flower captures the hearts and imaginations of people.

Where can cherry blossoms be found?

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Where can cherry blossoms be found

The most common type of cherry blossom in Japan is the Somei Yoshino, a cross between two species. It is known for its white petals tinged with light pink. They are often planted along banks and castle moats, where you can enjoy the reflection of the cherry blossoms on the water or a tunnel of cherry blossoms covering the bank or road. They are also often seen in parks and schools.

Another beautiful variety of cherry blossoms is the Kawazu cherry tree, often found in the Kawazu area of the southern Izu Peninsula, located only two and a half hours by train from Tokyo. 

These flowers are a stronger pink than someiyoshino and bloom from late February to early March, about a month before someiyoshino bloom. The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival is a spectacular event that attracts about one million visitors each year.

Even if you are unable to view the cherry blossoms in spring, you can still enjoy the cherry blossoms. The “shikizakura” (literally, “cherry blossoms of the four seasons”) bloom twice a year, and at popular sites in Aichi Prefecture, visitors can see the contrast between the bright autumn leaves and the delicate pink cherry blossoms at the same time in the fall.

The Meaning and Symbolism of Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in Japan The Meaning and Symbolism

The aesthetic of cherry blossoms is one of the most prominent images in the entire Japanese culture. Cherry blossom designs can be seen everywhere, from the dreamy landscapes of ukiyo-e woodblock prints to the delicate designs on traditional folding screens and on everyday items such as bento boxes. Not to mention the fact that they often appear in contemporary art, manga, and anime.

Countless quotes have been created to celebrate the beauty that this delicate flower brings to the landscape and to symbolize people’s admiration for cherry blossoms each spring. For example, the words of the Japanese Zen monk and poet Ikkyu (1394-1481) said, “If you cut down a cherry tree, you will not find any flowers in it. But when the spring wind blows, countless flowers bloom.”

One of the reasons for the popularity of cherry blossoms is their symbolism. They are said to resemble clouds because they bloom in masse as if the branches of the tree are enveloped in a mist, and then disappear like clouds. Because of this, cherry blossoms have come to symbolise the transience of life. 

The Buddhist concept of “the pathos of things” has long been rooted in Japanese culture – a recognition of both the beauty inherent in life and the inescapable death of life. It reflects the idea of “the pathos of things,” which roughly translates to “the sorrow of things.

Cherry blossoms usually bloom from the end of March to the beginning of April, although the timing of blooming varies by region. This is the time when the school year ends and students graduate and join the workforce. It is the time when one chapter ends and a new chapter begins. Because of the timing of their blooming, cherry blossoms embody this nostalgic feeling for many Japanese.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Cherry Blossoms in Japan

In Japan, the act of admiring and celebrating cherry blossoms is a national pastime, and cherry blossom bloom forecasts for Tokyo and other cities in Honshu are already announced in January. Hanami is organised among friends, classmates and colleagues to welcome the arrival of spring while enjoying and relaxing with the cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossom Season in Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Cherry Blossom Season

Although the cherry blossom season in Japan is generally considered to be from the end of March through April, due to the geographical extent of Japan, the actual blooming period spans about four months!

In the subtropical islands of Okinawa in the south, cherry blossoms begin blooming in mid-January and are at their best around early February.

Next, in the southern cities of Kyushu, such as Kagoshima and Kumamoto, and around Fukuoka, cherry blossoms begin to bloom around late March and are in full bloom in early April.

Moving north into the Kansai region, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and other cities begin to bloom from March to April.

In Tokyo and Yokohama, flowers tend to begin blooming in the last few days of March and reach full bloom in the first week of April.

In the northern cities of Tohoku, the flowers bloom in April. In Hirosaki, located at the northern tip of Honshu, the flowers are in full bloom in the last week of April.

Hokkaido, of course, is last. Usually, they begin blooming in the first week of May in cities such as Sapporo and Hakodate, and are in full bloom a few days later.

Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Cherry Blossom Festivals

To welcome spring, or sometimes simply to enjoy a good party, hanami (cherry blossom viewing) festivals are held throughout Japan. 

Most often it is a private gathering among friends and family, but there are also company hanami, often held in parks near workplaces. 

It usually involves finding a suitable location for a picnic with a dense population of cherry trees. In Tokyo, Yoyogi Park is the most popular place, and you will see people taking their places very early in the day. Usually, a blue plastic sheet is used in place of a rug. 

Everyone takes off their shoes and sits comfortably under the cherry blossoms for a long time. Everyone brings their own food and drinks to share with their friends. 

Cherry blossom-themed bento lunches are also popular, containing ingredients that resemble cherry blossoms or are coloured pink. Also, people often eat sakura mochi, rice cakes wrapped in sakura leaves.

Many cities also hold cherry blossom festivals, where the delicate blossoms light up the darkness at night, creating a graceful atmosphere. 

Cherry trees have long been planted on the grounds of castles, and crowds gather to photograph the white castle and cherry blossoms against the bright blue sky, or the pink reflection in the castle moat. 

The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival in Aomori is particularly famous, attracting more than 2 million visitors and being selected as one of the “100 Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan” and “100 Best Japanese Landscapes Interwoven with Nature and People. In Tokyo, cherry blossoms are reflected on the river in Nakameguro, and the lights of lanterns magically flicker and turn the river into a mystical river.

Best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan 

1. Meguro River / Tokyo

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Meguro River

Usually blooms from late March to early April

Number of cherry trees: About 800

About 800 Someiyoshino cherry trees line the 3.8 km stretch of Meguro River along both banks, making it a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. Every year there are stylish cocktails using strawberries, making it a great place to enjoy eating and walking while viewing the cherry blossoms.

2. Osaka Castle/Osaka Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Osaka Castle

Usually blooms from late March to mid-April

Number of cherry treesThere are about 3,000 cherry trees.

Osaka Castle, with approximately 3,000 cherry trees in full bloom, is one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Osaka and has been selected as one of the “100 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Japan. In particular, the Nishinomaru Garden is said to offer a beautiful view of the approximately 300 cherry trees and the Osaka Castle tower. Although a separate fee is required, we recommend that you also enjoy the illuminated cherry blossoms in Nishinomaru Garden. If you go to the trouble, you want to see the most beautiful cherry blossoms.

3. Shinjuku Gyoen / Tokyo

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Shinjuku Gyoen

Usually blooms from late March to late April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,000

The park is planted with some 65 varieties of cherry trees, including Someiyoshino, and visitors can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms for as long as about two months. The combination of cherry blossoms planted on the vast grounds and the towering skyscrapers can only be enjoyed in the city!

4. Himeji Castle / Hyogo Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Himeji Castle

Usually blooms in early April

Number of cherry trees: Approximately 1,000

The beauty of the combination of the whiteness of Himeji Castle, registered as a National Treasure and World Heritage Site, and the light red cherry blossoms has been selected as one of the 100 best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. 

The rows of cherry trees in San-no-maru Plaza and weeping cherry trees in Nishi-no-Maru Garden are particular highlights! The view of the castle tower peeking through the cherry blossoms in full bloom is a reminder of spring in Japan.

5. Daigoji Temple/Kyoto Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Daigoji Temple

Usually blooms from late March to early April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,000

Daigoji Temple is famous for the cherry blossoms that Toyotomi Hideyoshi held the extravagant “Daigo no Hanami” cherry blossom viewing party. About 1,000 cherry trees including weeping cherry, someiyoshino, yamazakura, and yaezakura bloom, so you can enjoy them for a long period of time. The combination of the five-story pagoda, a national treasure, and the cherry blossoms is magnificent!

6. Yoshinoyama / Nara Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Yoshinoyama

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees: There are about 30,000 cherry trees

Yoshinoyama, a World Heritage site, is filled with 30,000 white mountain cherry trees blooming in four clusters at the top, middle, bottom and back of the mountain, filling the entire mountain. Since they bloom in order from the bottom, middle, top, and back of the mountain starting in early April, it is a popular spot worldwide where visitors can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms for a long period of time.

7. Kintai Bridge/Yamaguchi Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Kintai Bridge

Usually blooms from late March to early April

Number of cherry trees: There are about 3,000 cherry trees.

Around Kintai Bridge, one of the three most famous bridges in Japan, about 3,000 Someiyoshino cherry trees are in full bloom. 5 arched bridges and cherry blossoms, especially when lit up, create a fantastic atmosphere. Whether you prefer to view the cherry blossoms from the bridge or enjoy the bridge and cherry blossoms from the shore, you are sure to find your favourite view.

8. Kiyomizu Temple/Kyoto Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Kiyomizu Temple

Usually in bloom from early April to late April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,000

The view looking down on the cherry blossoms in full bloom from the famous Kiyomizu-no-butai (stage of Kiyomizu) is truly spectacular. As you descend the stage and proceed to the inner sanctuary, you will have a panoramic view of the stage of Kiyomizu and the cherry blossoms. At night, the cherry blossoms are lit up, creating a fantastic atmosphere that is different from that of the daytime.

9. Hirosaki Park / Aomori Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Hirosaki Park

Usually blooms in late April

Number of cherry trees: There are about 2,600 cherry trees.

Hirosaki Park has been selected as one of Japan’s three best nighttime cherry blossom viewing spots and one of the three best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. When in full bloom, approximately 2,600 cherry trees of about 50 varieties bloom in the park, including someiyoshino, shidare-zakura, and yae-zakura. The sight of the castle tower soaring above the stone walls and the cherry blossoms is said to be the most beautiful in Japan.

10. Shiraishigawa-tsutsumi-Imime-sennbonzakura/Miyagi Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Shiraishigawa

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,200

Shiraishigawa-zutsumi Ichimete Senbonmatsu” is an 8-km-long cherry tree-lined avenue of 1,200 Someiyoshino cherry trees. It is located near a station, so accessibility is also attractive. For a separate fee, a hanami yakatabune (houseboat) is available, so you can enjoy the luxury of viewing cherry blossoms from a boat.

11. Takato Joshi Park / Nagano Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Takato Joshi Park

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,500

About 1,500 Takato Okohigan cherry trees are planted in this park, which has long been loved as “the best cherry tree in Japan” because of its beautiful color and its size. Compared to Someiyoshino cherry trees, Takato Joshi Park’s cherry trees are smaller and have a stronger pink color. Visitors can enjoy cherry blossoms that are different from those of other cherry trees.

12. Niikurayama Sengen Park / Yamanashi Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Niikurayama Sengen Park

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees: Approximately 650

Fuji, the five-story pagoda, and cherry blossoms can be enjoyed at the same time. Fuji, the five-story pagoda, and cherry blossoms can be enjoyed at the same time. After climbing 398 steps from the parking lot, a picture-perfect view unfolds before your eyes.

13. Takada Joshi Park / Niigata Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Takada Joshi Park

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees] About 4,000

The beauty of the approximately 4,000 Someiyoshino cherry trees and the three-story turret of Takada Castle, lit by more than 3,000 paper lanterns and reflected on the surface of the moat, has been selected as one of the “Three Greatest Night Cherry Blossoms in Japan. During the cherry blossom viewing period, many stalls line the streets, making it a good place for those who prefer dumplings to flowers. This is a must-see spot to visit not during the daytime, but at night.

14. Goryokaku Park / Hokkaido

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Goryokaku Park

Usually blooms from late April to early May

Number of cherry trees: About 1,600

It is no exaggeration to say that Goryokaku Park is the best place to see cherry blossoms in Hokkaido! About 1,600 cherry trees bloom on the star-shaped fortress, and when they are in full bloom, you can see cherry-colored stars. The stars created by petals floating on the moat at the time of falling are also a magnificent sight. Boats are available for rent, so you can enjoy the cherry blossoms from the moat!

15. Ninna-ji Temple/Kyoto

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Ninna-ji Temple

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees: About 550

About 200 Omuro-zakura (Omuro-zakura), characterized by their late blooming and short stature, are in full bloom on the west side of the central gate. The forest of Omuro-zakura blooming at our eye level is so beautiful that it has been selected as a national scenic beauty spot. Look for rare varieties of cherry blossoms such as the Gyoikou cherry tree, which has pale green flowers!

16. Ueno Onshi Park / Tokyo

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Ueno Onshi Park

Usually blooms from late March to early April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,200

Known as a cherry blossom viewing spot since the early Edo period (1603-1867), it is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo. About 50 varieties of cherry trees, including Someiyoshino and Yamazakura, are planted here. When someiyoshino cherry trees begin to fall, the famous weeping cherry tree called “autumn color cherry” in Shimizu Kannondo will be in full bloom. It is nice to be able to enjoy the cherry blossoms for a long period of time. During the festival, bonbori (paper lanterns) are lit and visitors can enjoy the cherry blossoms at night.

17. Sumida River / Tokyo

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Sumida River

Usually blooms from late March to early April

Number of cherry trees: About 1,000

This is a classic cherry blossom viewing spot, easily accessible near a station and selected as one of the “100 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Japan. The cherry trees line both banks of the Sumida River for about 1 km, and you can enjoy the collaboration of the Sky Tree and the cherry blossoms. Viewing the cherry blossoms from a houseboat or water bus is also recommended.

18. Rikugien / Tokyo

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Rikugien

Usually in bloom from late March to early April

Rikugien, designated as a special place of scenic beauty by the national government, is a place where weeping cherry trees and Someiyoshino cherry trees can be enjoyed. Near the main gate of the garden, the weeping cherry trees illuminated by the lights are so majestic that you will be overwhelmed. Why not spend an elegant time viewing the cherry blossoms while drinking amazake (sweet sake) or matcha (powdered green tea) at a teahouse in the garden?

19. Kasumigajo Park / Fukushima Prefecture

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Kasumigajo Park

Usually blooms from early April to mid-April

Number of cherry trees: There are approximately 2,500 cherry trees.

The park is said to have been named after the appearance of the cherry blossoms in full bloom, which looks like a mist hanging over the trees. About 2,500 cherry trees, mainly Someiyoshino, are in bloom, and the fantastic sight has been selected as one of the “100 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Japan. The illuminated nighttime cherry blossoms are so beautiful that they seem otherworldly.

20. Heian Jingu Shrine/Kyoto

Cherry Blossoms in Japan Heian Jingu Shrine

Usually blooms from late March to early April

Number of cherry trees: There are about 300 cherry trees.

The cherry blossoms are famous for their reddish blossoms, which were described as “crimson clouds spreading in the evening sky” in the book “Hosoyuki” by the great writer Junichiro Tanizaki. The spectacular scenery created by 300 cherry trees of about 20 varieties and the colourful shrine pavilions is truly spectacular.

Cherry blossoms in Japan are so beautiful and have so much to offer. Not only is the cherry blossom beautiful, it also symbolises something special and the fleeting beauty is truly treasured in Japan. 

What do you think about these flowers in Japan? There are so many different colours, shapes, types, and sizes of flowers, no matter which season you decide to visit Japan, you will be sure to be able to find gorgeous Japanese flowers to enjoy! 

Find out all about the different flowers in Japan you can enjoy throughout the year here. Check out what, when and where to see these flowers here: Cherry Blossoms, Tulips, Azaleas, Roses, Poppies, Salvia, Hydrangea, Iris, Lavender, Indian Lotus, Sunflowers, Ume and Moss phlox.

We host our own bar tours regularly as well! We take you to all kinds of unique and underground locations around Tokyo, with anywhere between five to fifteen international guests! We’ve also lived in Japan for years and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, ranging from history, and culture to society and nightlife! Come join us for a great night!

Stay tuned for more information about Japan travel, Japanese culture, moving to Japan, living in Japan and more.

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We’re your local friend in Japan, helping you explore, experience and enjoy the ins and outs of Japan! When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin. During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique underground places. We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!

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FLIP GUIDE TEAM

Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!

 

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