Sakura Festivals & Viewing Locations from South to North Japan
Follow the Blooming Flowers
The cherry blossom season, Japan’s traditional sign of spring, is nothing less than magical.
But do you know that you can see sakura bloom in Japan as early as January and until the end of May?
Here is a list of some of Japan’s most popular cherry blossom and our selection of the best places and time to enjoy sakura and hanami in each region.
The best time to see the blooming of cherry blossom in Okinawa is from mid-January to mid-February. The most common variety of cherry tree is called Kanhizakura, also known as the Ryukyu kanhizakura, or the Taiwanese cherry. And the Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival offers the very first bloom in all of Japan.
The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival (Kawazuzakura Matsuri) is held every year from February 10th to March 10th. The highlight of the festival is the 850 Kawazu cherry trees along the banks of the Kawazu River and about 8000 across the city.
Kyushu and Chugoku (Ume or plum tree)
Two vast areas in western Japan and a plum blossom season that extends from mid-March to early April. Our favorite spots are the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, located in Dazaifu, Fukuoka and the Ume-no-Sato Ume Matsuri in Tsuyama, Okayama.
Ranked among the 15 most beautiful cherry blossom landscapes in Japan and off the beaten track, Mount Shiude (top photo) is our long time favorite. While visitors can admire flowers all year round, the cherry blossom season and the panoramic view of the Inland Sea are magnificent.
Like every year at the end of March, many would agree that the temples and shrines of Kyoto and Nara or the Osaka and Himeji castles are the best places to enjoy sakura. We prefer the Sewaritei Park in Yawata, and its astonishing view of 1.4 km pink tunnel.
With cities, like Tokyo or Yokohama and their neighboring cities, the Kanto region is full of beautiful destinations to enjoy cherry blossom. But why not take the train and the Kominato Railway line, to enjoy spring in pink and yellow… cherry trees and rapeseed.
Takato Castle Ruins Park is considered to be one of the three best locations to see cherry blossom in Japan. From early to middle of April, the castle is also very famous for its yozakura, or cherry blossom viewing at night.
When Tokyo’s cherry blossom season is nearing its end, the cherry blossoms in Tohoku start. One of the most underrated, yet the most attractive areas in Japan for cherry blossom viewing. From Sendai to Aomori, from mid-April to early May, we love the Kitakami Cherry Blossom Festival which combines cherry blossoms and Koinobori “carp streamer”. And from late April to early May, the weeping cherry trees of Kakunodate and Hirosaki Park home to 2600 trees with over 50 different types of cherry.
The region is not best known for cherry blossom. But the sakura season in Hokkaido only starts around the beginning of May. You can enjoy 8000 cherry trees and over 100 different species in the ancient Jokamachi (castle town) of Matsumae. Or from early May to mid-May, the Japan’s premiere cherry tree-lined road from Nijukken to Shin-Hidaka.