Cherry blossom in Japan, or sakura (in Japanese), has long been adored by people across the globe. The advent of Spring season in Japan is synonymous with the arrival of blooms blanketing the nation with various shades of white and pink. These famous cherry blossoms draw epic-sized crowds from around the globe, all eager to be a part of this quintessential hanami experience. It is regarded as a symbol of renewal, vitality, and beauty. During the spring season of each year, thousands travel to Japan to view the wondrous spectacle of these white or pink flowers blooming en masse.
In this article you will find all the details that you need about Cherry Blossom in Japan:
- What is Hanami
- Forecast for 2018: best time to view Cherry Blossom in Japan (updated every year)
- Best places for viewing Cherry Blossom in Japan
- Top places in Tokyo
- Top places around Tokyo
- Top places in other parts of Japan
Hanami: Cherry Blossom picnic in Japan
“What is Hanami ?”
Well, in the literal sense of it, ‘hana’ means ‘flowers’ and ‘mi’ means ‘to see/view’. So, put together, ‘hanami‘ means ‘flower viewing‘, especially the Cherry Blossom (known as Sakura in Japanese). But this explanation / translation doesn’t do any justice to Japan’s ‘Craze for Sakura’. Cherry blossom in Japan is much more than just a few flowers. It’s hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced it, but during the cherry blossom season it’s like the whole country is swept by a sort of festival atmosphere that lasts from the first flowering down in southerly Okinawa until the last petal drops in northern Hokkaido.
From a cultural point of view, cherry blossom in Japan also symbolize the transience of life, which is a major theme in Buddhism. The cherry-blossom tree is known for its short but brilliant blooming season, a natural process that metaphorically describes human life.
So, in short, ‘hanami‘ refers to a picnic party to enjoy cherry blossoms with food and drinks mainly beer. As it is with any other Japanese festival, there are some manners and ‘unsaid’ rules to have a Hanami party. And a good preparation may help you to enjoy the party even more. Staying in Japan and attending several Hanami picnics, I learned three basic (but essential) Hanami Etiquettes:
1. BYOB (Bring your own beer).
2. Take your own trash
3. Take your shoes off (when on the blue tarp)
Although, Cherry blossom marks the advent of speinfg in Japan, Hanami isnt the only thing to do in Japan. There are many other things to do in Japan during spring season like visiting Nikko, or taking a trip to any of the beer gardens etc.
When is Cherry Blossom season in Japan:
Blossoming of the pink flowers marks the advent of spring, but the exact dates to get the best possible view is different from city-to-city. The JNTO website gives live update of the date/time for different places across the country.
UPDATE: Here is the Cherry Blossom forecast for 2018
Best places for viewing Cherry Blossom in Japan:
Given below is a list of 12 places in Japan that I have found to be among the best.
Top Places in Tokyo:
1. Shinjuku Gyoen: One of the largest and most popular public parks in the capital. Having over 1,500 cherry trees inside, Shinjuku Gyoen is coated in soft pink during the cherry season. However, the downside with a popular spot is always the crowd. Like me, even you may not be lucky to get a photo without others in the frame, but the happy atmosphere is rewarding! The park opens from 9am to 4:30pm during the season, so make sure you get there before sunset.
2. Ueno Park: Another very busy park filled with over 1200 sakura trees and locals having the blossom party either side. Take a walk to experience the celebrating vibe; chances are you are invited to join the party along! The 2017 Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival was held from late March to early April.
3. Chidorigafuchi Moat:If you have experienced a couple of springs in Japan (esp. Tokyo), and would like to enjoy Hanami at the next level, Rowing a boat on Chidorigafuchi moat is the answer. The Chidorigafuchi moat in the Imperial Palace is one of the most popular Sakura spots in Tokyo, combine it with the boating, it’s a whole new experience.
If you are in Tokyo, you can check out these places to stay in Tokyo. Also, there are tonnes of things to do, hence it will be a good idea to sort out the best way to spend 24 hours in Tokyo.
Top 2 around Tokyo:
1. Chureito Pagoda
2. Sankeien Garden
Top 7 in other parts of Japan:
1. Mount Yoshinoyama: With over 30,000 sakura trees (some of which are over 1000 years old) Mount Yoshino (or Yoshinoyama), in Nara Prefecture, is widely regarded as the “ultimate” place to view Cherry blossom in Japan.
2. Philosopher’s Path: The Philosopher’s Path, in Kyoto, begins at Ginkaku-ji and goes upto Nazenji with thousands of trees lined up. It’s a gorgeous place to go for a stroll when the cherry trees are in full bloom. Pink blossoms hang down over a narrow, cobblestone path, following close beside a gentle flowing canal at the base of the Higashiyama.
3. Hanamiyama Park: HanamiYama Park, regarded by many as the “Eden in Fukushima”, is privately-owned horticulture farmland that has been opened to the public as a park.
4. Kema Sakuranomiya Park: The several kilometers long banks of the Okawa River has endless rows of cherry trees (nearly 5000) that can be viewed from a pleasant riverside promenade or from ships cruising the river.
5. Osaka Castle: With over 4000 sakura trees planted on the spacious grounds of Osaka Castle, it makes for another nice place for a picnic. Also, don’t miss the views of the castle tower lighted up in the evening.
Although the castle looks spectacular during the cherry blossom season, visiting the museum inside it is also one of the prime things to do in Osaka all year round.
6. Matsuyama Castle: Similar to the Osaka castle, the Matsuyama castle also has hundreds of sakura tress planted in the castle garden. The view from the castle tower over the trees and the city beyond is remarkable.
7. Miyajima Island walking trails:Famous for its “floating” torii gate, the small island of Miyajima has over 1500 sakura trees and at full-bloom, the walking trails are one of the best for Cherry blossom.
49 thoughts on “Hanami: Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan”
This is so beautiful. Such extremely gorgeous photos of Cherry blossom and quite informative writeup. Thanks for putting it up
Thank you so much.. I am so glad you loved it 🙂
SO beautiful! This is absolutely on our bucket list some day. I am sure it is even more beautiful in person.
Its indeed very beautiful, Renee.. 🙂
Absolutely breathtaking! We lived in the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the US”, Macon, Georgia, for a few years. Are the allergies in Japan as bad as they are in Georgia during Cherry Blossom Season?
Thank you Melissa… one of my friend lives in Georgia and she had share some stunning images for cherry blossom from there!! 🙂
I was looking for information on cherry blossom in Japan and your guide came as the apt source of info for me and such lovely pics too!!!!
Hey.. thank you so much.. I am really glad you liked it.. 🙂
Wow this looks absolutely lovely and I would adore being able to visit here one day to see the blossoms!
Yes, Japan is absolutely spectacular during cherry blossom! 🙂
omg! I have always wanted to go to this, I saw a video on Facebook about this. So beautiful, thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you! its indeed very beautiful…!
I’ve always loved cherry blossoms and attending the festival would be something I’d love to do. The photos make everything look so beautiful!
Japan is a must visit during cherry blossom!
I was lucky enough to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC & I thought that was stunning – I can’t even imagine how absolutely gorgeous it would be in Japan!
I have seen some pics of Cherry blossom from Washington DC.. but trust me Japan is absolutely gorgeous during Sakura! 🙂
These photos are beautiful. I’d love to take a trip and witness in real life some day.
Thank you! 🙂
Beautiful post! Reminds me of my Japanese Cherry Blossom body mist by The Body Shop! 🙂
Haha! 🙂 yea, I used to buy the ‘Japanese Cherry Blossom’ body mist from The Body Shop for my family as well…!
That is absolutely gorgeous! Cherry blossoms look so magical
Its such a heavenly blog, awesome beauty Japan. We need to thank Nature. Great blog too!
This place is magical . I have a frnd , her name means japanese pink.
Japan is magical indeed.
Japan is magical. If I could choose only one place to visit in my lifetime, it would be definitely Japan. Great blog 🙂
Indeed, Japan is a magical place.
Thank you so much 🙂 !
Wow those cherry blossoms are gorgeous, I would love to attend this festval one day!
So beautiful pink. I liked that you have given complete description of cherry blossom festival in Japan and where are they held best. I was not knowing about its religious significance. It is very good to know that it is associated with Buddhism.
Such a great article, and thanks for all the useful information! I would absolutely love to experience this festival at least once in my life, it looks astonishing
Thank you Sammy.. Yup, you should try and visit Japan during Spring! its an absolute delight.
Thank you so much!
"a cherry blossom tattoo" !! wow! that's something rare! 🙂
Thank you for your kind works.. you should try and visit Japan during Spring! its an absolute delight.
Thank you Taylor. The real sight is much more beautiful than the photos!
Hello Deborah Patrick… thank you for visiting my page.. Its truly is an absolute delight to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
One of my friends stayed in Japan for 6 months and recently came back. While she was there, she kept on sending us (her group of friends in our group chat) photos of sakura. I would love to visit Japan soon to experience this as well as to visit a few more places.
wow I've never seen anything as beautiful as that! the whole concept is fantastic! Looks like heaven to me.
Amazing photos! This post makes me want to visit Japan even more! <3
I like the idea of celebrating cherry blossom and make a special time for visiting various places in Japan. Your post made me dream of a visit in Japan in spring time to see with my eyes this splendor. Very beautiful photos!
I have always wanted to go to this. It looks beautiful.
This festival looks amazing. The trees are so beautiful, looks like a magazine! I hope to be able to see this in person one day. Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience
Absolutely breathtaking. Cherry blossom festival would be the perfect time to go, my fiance LOOOVES all things nature. Gorgeous pictures.
Cherry blossom trees are one of my favs! So gorgeous!!
Wow, so enchanting. I would love to see Cherry Blossoms in person some day
I love cherry blossom, and it certainly is the advent of spring!
Enjoy the journey!
absolutely stunning – I've been planning on doing a cherry blossom design for cake for ages and this was so inspiring, I truly hope I get to see some of these places for myself one day.
Wow! Thanks for this very detailed post. We just had a cherry blossom festival in NYC. I really want to visit Japan to see them and your post will make it that much more helpful! My mom has a cherry blossom tattoo so we love them a lot in our family 🙂
I have always wanted to go see the cherry blossoms they look so beautiful in photos!
Cherry blossoms are without a doubt, my favourite flower. So this would be a dream come true, to attend this, for me personally. What an absolutely beautiful place for a picnic.