Discovering Sakura: The Best Cherry Blossom Spots Across Japan

by Ryoma Takano

Cherry blossom viewing is one of Japan's most highly anticipated events, generally occurring from the end of March to early April (though it varies yearly). During this time, cherry blossoms bloom in Japan, offering views of pretty pink flowers throughout the country. While many locals have their set spots to participate in viewing Japanese cherry blossoms, those new to the country (or visiting during sakura season) may wonder where to find these stunning blooms.


Below, you'll find top spots for cherry blossom viewing and tips to help you enjoy the event even more!


Understanding Cherry Blossom Season

Around 63 million people participate in cherry blossom viewing in Japan each year. This impressive number includes those traveling around the country and those visiting Japan. In Japan, you'll hear the tradition of viewing cherry blossoms called hanami. This tradition includes appreciating the cherry blossoms, often with a picnic, treats, drinks, and more. Generally, those celebrating hanami will do so with their loved ones. While this tradition includes viewing the beautiful blooming flowers, it's much more than that. This celebration is a reminder that life is short and there are times of death and renewal.


Cherry blossom viewing is a long-held tradition in Japan. Originally, this tradition centered around plum blossoms, which are related to apricots and similar stone fruits. Each year, when the plum blossoms bloomed, Japanese people would gather and join in the appreciation of the flowers. These blossoms represented endurance, as they had a long blooming season that lasted from January to February. This tradition quickly shifted to cherry blossoms, as their fleeting annual blooms better matched Japan's concept of 'mono no aware,' which focuses on how things are only temporary.


Since this shift, Japanese people and Japanese visitors have made it a priority to view the flowers each year. This year, major cities like Tokyo and Osaka are expected to see a peak bloom period from late March through the beginning of April. You can take advantage of the Sakura season through activities like a cherry blossom tour or visiting one of the best cherry blossom festivals.


7 Iconic Cherry Blossom Spots Throughout Japan

Tokyo's Ueno Park

Ask anyone in Japan where to go for cherry blossom viewing, and one of the first locations they'll recommend is Ueno Park. This historic park is a popular spot for hanami, as it has many cherry blossom trees (about 1000 trees). This location also has ponds, museums, and shrines to explore. Many enjoy visiting Ueno Park, as a section of the park is illuminated in the evenings for those who want to see the cherry blossoms at night.

Cherry Blossoms at Ueno Toshogu Shrine in Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan. Ueno Park is visited by up to 2 million people for annual Sakura Festival.


Kyoto's Maruyama Park

Another popular spot in Kyoto is Maruyama Park, which is well-known for its weeping cherry trees. At night, a large weeping cherry tree (the centerpiece of the park) is illuminated, offering pretty views of the flowers. Here, you can enjoy traditional hanami foods as you sit under the trees, as there are quite a few food stalls spread throughout the park.

Japan crowds enjoy the spring cherry blossoms in Kyoto by partaking in seasonal night Hanami festivals in Maruyama Park at Kyoto, Japan.


Hirosaki Park, Aomori

At Hirosaki Park, you'll find around 2,600 Sakura trees to view during hanami. It's the location of Hirosaki Castle, which provides a beautiful backdrop to the blooming Sakura trees. This park also holds the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival each year, which includes food stalls, rowboat rentals, and more. The Sakura trees and castle are lit up during the festival for nighttime viewings.

A view of the Hirosaki Castle on cherry blossom festival in Hirosaki Park, Aomori.


Mount Yoshino, Nara

In many people's opinion, the best cherry blossom viewing in Japan is at Yoshinoyama (Mount Yoshino). This location in Nara has been a favorite spot for hanami-goers for hundreds of years. It features gorgeous scenery, with thousands of cherry trees on top of the mountain. Expect breathtaking nature views when spending time at Mount Yoshino.

Artists sitting in front of beautiful Cherry blossom (Sakura) landscape on Naka Senbon (Middle level) of Mount Yoshino in Nara, Japan


Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo

The Chidorigafuchi moat is a stunning area that surrounds the Imperial Palace. This picturesque moat offers a unique scene - blooming cherry blossom trees that form a tunnel over the water in the moat.

cherry blossom bloom in Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo


Himeji Castle, Hyogo

Another must-see cherry blossom viewing spot is Himeji Castle, which is home to hundreds of sakura trees. Here, visitors will find one of Japan's most beautiful and historic castles. The blooming trees provide a stunning contrast against the castle in the background. As a note, you can explore the outer castle area for free, but entering the inner grounds comes with a fee.

Himeji, Japan at Himeji Castle in spring season full of Sakura flowers.


Kawazu, Shizuoka

Kawazu is a charming town on the Izu Peninsula, known for offering views of Kawazu early-blooming cherry trees. If you're visiting Japan in February or early March, Kawazu is a great spot, as the trees will likely already be in bloom. During this time, the town holds the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival, which lasts from early February to early March.

A beautiful view of a river surrounded by full bloom Kawazu sakura trees in Minamiizu-cho, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture


Cultural Significance of Cherry Blossoms

While these delicate blossoms are beautiful, they're also important in various art, literature, clothing, and other mediums. Their influence is widespread, from daily life to festivals. These blossoms, representing the fleeting nature of life, are also considered sacred. So, you'll often see cherry blossom trees near Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and other religious landmarks. Because of their meaning and beauty, it's easy to see why the cherry tree bloom is highly anticipated annually.


Learn more about the cherry blossom symbolism, varieties, festivals, and how to grow them with the following article: The Most Awaited Sakura Tree Bloom in Japan.

Two geishas wearing traditional japanese kimono among Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Tokyo, Japan.


Tips for Cherry Blossom Viewing

Here are some cherry blossom viewing tips to help you make the most of hanami in Japan.


  1. Bring a bag for garbage. While some viewing sites have garbage bins available, not all do. It's best to always bring a garbage bag for snack wrappers and drink bottles so you're not left carrying out your garbage in your arms.


  1. Avoid the walkways. In larger viewing areas, there are typically bigger crowds. The crowds move quickly on the walkways, so it's best to avoid them if you're not walking. Otherwise, you may get separated from your friends/family members.


  1. Head to the bathrooms early. The bathrooms are typically quite busy during hanami. Expect about 30 minutes of wait time, so head to the line as early as possible.


  1. Be respectful when near the trees. An essential rule when visiting a cherry blossom viewing spot is to be respectful of the trees. Avoid pulling or swinging on the branches. Do not pick the flowers.


  1. Avoid crowds by staying out of large cities. There will be more crowds in the larger cities (like Tokyo). If you want a more peaceful hanami, try heading to lesser-known locations. Kyushu is a great spot for viewing the blossoms without overwhelming crowds.


  1. Head to the viewing spot early. Should you choose to visit one of the more popular viewing sites, you'll want to get there first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds. Check online to see the viewing locations' hours and plan to arrive right when they open.


Preparing for a Cherry Blossom Viewing Picnic

People in Japan enjoying a picnic under the blooming sakura trees.

If you're lucky enough to be in Japan during the Sakura season, you'll want to partake in hanami. Here are a few tips to help you celebrate Sakura-viewing season properly.


  1. Bring disposable plates/cups/silverware/napkins/garbage bags, etc. Make your hanami picnic easier with disposable plates, cups, and other items. That way, it's easier to munch on the seasonal sakura items available at your cherry blossom viewing spot. Don't forget to pack out your garbage.


  1. Take a picnic blanket with you. Since the weather is still a bit chilly in March/April, it's best to bring a picnic tarp or blanket with you. This extra step ensures you don't sit directly on wet grass.


  1. Arrive early. To get the best spot, arriving early at the viewing area is necessary. You can leave your picnic blanket on the ground where you want to sit as a way to "reserve" the spot. Ensure you have someone staying with your items at all times.


  1. Grab a spot under the sakura trees. The best place to sit and enjoy the cherry blossom trees is right underneath them. That way, you'll see the blossoms easily the entire time.


  1. Bring food to the viewing area. One of the best ways to save money is by purchasing food before you get to your viewing spot. Otherwise, be prepared to spend more money on items at the food stalls.


Sugoi Mart is a great spot to stock up on sakura goodies for your hanami celebration. The Sakura collection includes cakes, jellies, chocolates, and other tasty sakura treats made with cherry blossoms or essence. Don't forget to quench your thirst with a sakura latte or sparkling cherry blossom beverage. You can also celebrate the event with non-edible items, like sakura-themed plushies, eco bags, towels, and more.



With the sakura season representing impermanence and renewal right at the beginning of the year, it's easy to see why hanami has remained an important event for years. The remainder that life is short yet beautiful is an essential message for everyone. Visiting Japan and experiencing cherry blossoms in person is a must for everyone at least once in their lifetime!


If you can't make it to Japan, you can create your own version of cherry blossom viewing at home. Many areas around the US offer views of sakura trees. Grab your favorite Sugoi Mart items, picnic must-haves, and loved ones, and head to the nearest viewing area.

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