The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms Throughout Japan
An important part of Japanese culture, the islands of Japan are covered with cherry blossom trees, which create some incredible scenery during their short flowering time during the spring. Deeply rooted into traditional Japanese art, there are a number of beautiful 'sakura spots' all over the country. In fact the act of viewing the cherry blossoms in Japan is a national event. Known as 'hanami' locals hold parties to drink, eat and view the beautiful foliage during this short period. Here are some of the best places in the country to have your own 'hanami'.
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One of Japan's most beautiful and impressive castles, it's even prettier in the spring when given a backdrop of cherry blossoms. Himeji's sakura season usually starts slightly earlier than Tokyo, hitting full bloom at the end of March to early April. The vast castle grounds are surrounded by around 1000 cherry blossom trees that brighten up the area and make for the perfect place to appreciate this beautiful plant.
If you're looking to be stunned by some of the best scenery on earth that's filled with thousands of cherry trees as far as the eye can see then there's nowhere better than Mount Yoshino. Located south of Nara, the mountain is covered with cherry blossoms, easily the most densely covered area for cherry trees in the country. From the viewpoint you can see all around the area and over the trees of a spectacular array of different pinks.
Shinjuku Gyoen Park
At the heart of Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the few parks you need to pay to get into, but it's well worth it especially during the spring season when the parks many cherry trees start to bloom. With the city's skyscrapers looming in the background, the park is beautiful all around the year, featuring some of the most picturesque traditional gardens in the city. The 'hanami' season isn't the best time for if you want somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet however, the cherry blossom trees around the park get filled up quite quickly with people having picnics and drinking under the blossoms.
Fuji Five Lakes
With the incredible backdrop of the iconic Mt Fuji, it's not surprising that the 'five lakes' area is home to some of the country's best sakura scenery. By far the most famous of the views here is at Chureito Pagoda, on a mountain next to Kawaguchi Lake, the view of this pagoda offers views out to Mt Fuji along with views over the sea of cherry blossom trees to the side of it. You'll also find a number of trees around the shores of the lake.
Another of Tokyo's sakura hotspots, the Meguro River stretches from Shibuya through Meguro with much of both of its banks lined with cherry trees creating a beautiful tunnel of pink. Being located right in the center of Tokyo, like the city's other spots it can get quite crowded especially during peak bloom and at weekends. The most famous picture spots start at the river closest to Naka-Meguro Station as it runs through towards Ebisu.
Another of Japan's famous castle con cherry blossom views, Hirosaki's grounds are full of the stunning seasonal trees. One of the most famous sites being the moat surrounded the castle which gets filled with sakura petals once the leaves start falling. It's not the easiest of places to get to, being located in Japan's far northern prefecture of Aomori, but it's well worth the journey for the incredible scenery found here. Being further north, the cherry blossom season is much later, usually starting from late April to early May.
Takato Joshi Park
Towards the south of the mountainous Nagano Prefecture, Takato Joshi Park might be small in size but offers a cluster of cherry trees for an intensely picturesque view, along with the beautiful mountain background view.
If you're planning on visiting Japan earlier in the year but still want to get a view of the cherry blossoms, while most places tend to bloom in March and April, the sakura season for Okinawa is much earlier due to its southern position. While cherry blossom trees are not quite as abundant here as mainland Japan, trees start to bloom from the end of January and early February.