Hanami: Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan

Sharing is caring!

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.

Hanami cherry blossom in Japan
A typical Hanami Picnic in Japan!


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)

Hanami Etiquettes
Hanami Etiquettes

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

Cherry blossom hanami 2018
Forecast for best viewing Cherry Blossom in Japan 2018 (source: JNTO)

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:

Cherry Blossom in Tokyo
Here is an infographic from Expedia showing the best places for Cherry Blossom 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.

Cherry blossom Shinjuku
Taken from Shinjuku Gyoen. overlooking the Metropolitan Building

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.

Cherry blossom in Ueno Park
Ueno Park at Night during the Cherry blossom season

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.

Cherry blossom at Chidorigafuchi moat
Boating is a full swing Cherry blossom season at Chidorigafuchi moat
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

Cherry Blossom at Chureito Pagoda
Cherry Blossom at Chureito Pagoda

2. Sankeien Garden

Cherry blossom at Sankeien Garden
Night view at Sankeien Garden with the pagoda in the backdrop.

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.

Cherry Blossom at yoshinoyama
The Entire Valley of Mt. Yoshinoyama get covered in different shades of pink!

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.

Cherry blossom at Philosopher’s Path Kyoto
Probably the most romantic place during Cherry blossom

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.

Cherry blossom at HanamiYama Park
the entire hill brighten up to the colors!

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.

Cherry blossom at Kema Sakuranomiya Park
Kema Sakuranomiya Park

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.

Cherry blossom at Osaka Castle
the mighty Osaka Castle will be full of crowd during the Cherry blossom season

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.

Cherry blossom matsuyama castle
another castle that pulls thousands of Cherry blossom viewers

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.

Cherry blossom season in Miyajima
Miyajima is romantic on any-day, but the Cherry blossom season is like the “cherry” on the cake!
If you found this post interesting,
and have already added Cherry Blossom in Japan to your bucket list,
why not share it with your friends and get them interested too!
     So, this was all about the best season and places for Cherry Blossom in Japan and the “Hanami” culture. Similar to this ‘spring festival’, there is another interesting festival in Summer – ‘The Fireworks Festival’ (coming soon..). The Fireworks Festival of Japan (known as HANABI in Japanese) is similar to “Diwali” – the festival of lights – as celebrated in India. The primary difference being – HANABI is a fireworks show, and in DIWALI we will be bursting our own firecrackers!! Want to learn ‘how to take awesome fireworks photos‘, check out our ‘Photo-blog‘ in Fireworks Photography.
Liked reading this article..?  why not PIN IT !!

Sharing is caring!

49 thoughts on “Hanami: Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan”

  1. This is so beautiful. Such extremely gorgeous photos of Cherry blossom and quite informative writeup. Thanks for putting it up

  2. 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?

    1. Thank you Melissa… one of my friend lives in Georgia and she had share some stunning images for cherry blossom from there!! 🙂

      1. 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!!!!

  3. 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!

    1. I have seen some pics of Cherry blossom from Washington DC.. but trust me Japan is absolutely gorgeous during Sakura! 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. Hello Olivia!
    "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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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

  10. Absolutely breathtaking. Cherry blossom festival would be the perfect time to go, my fiance LOOOVES all things nature. Gorgeous pictures.

  11. 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.

  12. 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 🙂

  13. 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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *