Best Cherry Blossom Festivals and Viewing Spots in Japan

Best Cherry Blossom Festivals and Viewing Spots in Japan

Japan is famous for their flowering cherry trees, and while you can see them around the world like in Korea and Washington DC, Japan remains the most iconic place to see them. During peak bloom season, Japanese people and tourists alike flock to attend festivals and participate in hanami, or picnics beneath cherry trees. Here's our guide on the best spots to see them and how to plan your trip to see these fleeting beauties! 

The Official Japan Cherry Blossom forecast for 2024

Photo: Japan Meteorological Corporation
Photo: Japan Meteorological Corporation

Tokyo: start flowering around March 23, reaching full bloom around March 30

Kyoto: start flowering around March 23, reaching full bloom around April 1

Osaka: start flowering around March 25, reaching full bloom around April 1.

The northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido will be the last to see cherry blossoms. For Sapporo, the start of the sakura season looks to be May 2, while full bloom will be achieved right on schedule on May 6.

The next update from the JMC is scheduled for February 25, which should have more accurate predictions closer to the date. 

Why are Cherry Blossoms so popular in Japan?

The cherry blossom, called the sakura , holds much cultural significance as Japan's national flower. It appears everywhere from Japanese coins, folk songs, iconography and popular culture. 

In Buddhist religion the bloom's short lifespan can be considered a metaphor for ephemerality, or brevity and mortality, of life, along with life’s beauty. They are also associated with clouds thanks for their fluffy, cloud like appearance when in full bloom.

By KimonBerlin -, CC BY-SA 2.0,

When do Cherry Blossom Trees Blossom in Japan?

Cherry blossom season in Japan is throughout the spring season, and runs from late March through early May every year, but some trees can begin to bloom as early as January.

Peak viewing times vary by region and is highly affected by the weather. If the weather is mild, the blossoms may open earlier. Likewise, an especially cold winter can delay blooms. 

Most trees only bloom for a few days, so it’s important to know when the best time to visit each of the different locations will be. You should also be aware that there will usually be a few days between the date of the first bloom and the date of the full bloom.

The Japan Meteorological Corporation provides viewers with an early cherry blossom forecast from the start of the year and has start and end dates for the hanami season in various locations up and down the country.

When are Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan? 

Most cherry blossom festivals begin round the end of March and can last well into the month of May.

March 27th is Cherry Blossom Day

March 27th the the offical Cherry Blossom Day in Japan, known as  “Sakura No Hi”.

What do you do at Cherry Blossom Festivals? 

Cherry blossom festivals are prime times to view the blossoms, have a picnic under the blossoms, eat and drink with family and friends while enjoying the blooms. 

What is hanami

Translated as “flower viewing,” the festival attracts locals and visitors alike that come together to celebrate the season with outdoor parties, picnics, and other events that take place both day and night.

By Japanexperterna, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Where to see Cherry Blossoms in Japan?

Cherry blossoms can be viewed throughout Japan, but the dates of peak bloom will vary by region. 

Sub-tropical southern islands can have cherry blossoms as early as January, while further northern the cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka will have blooms later in the middle of March and into April. 

In northernmost islands and highlands, they can bloom even later in May. 

In addition, areas of high altitude, the blossom will usually arrive later than those found in lower-altitude regions.


Best Spots to view Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Yoshino, Kansai

Yoshino, Kansai, is Japan's most famous cherry-blossom destination
The blossoms of thousands of cherry trees form a floral carpet gradually ascending the mountainsides of Yoshino in Kansai. It's definitely a sight worth seeing – and one that many Japanese long to see once in their lifetime – but this does mean that the narrow streets of the village become jammed with thousands of visitors. You'll have to be content with a day trip (doable from Nara, or even Osaka) unless you've booked accommodations well in advance. Once the cherry-blossom petals fall, the crowds depart and Yoshino reverts back to a quiet village with a handful of shrines and temples.


Hirosaki Castle Park (Hirosaki)

Hirosaki Castle Park (Hirosaki) Cherry Blossoms

Home to 2,600 flowering cherry trees, Hirosaki Park is considered one of the best cherry blossom viewing locations in the country. More than a million visitors flood its gates each spring.

The four-hundred-year-old Hirosaki Castle also adds to the uniqueness of this location. Visitors can rent boats and float amid fallen blossoms in the castle’s moat. Hirosaki Park is only a short bus ride from JR Lines Hirosaki Station.


Hirosaki-kōen (Hirosaki Park) is a huge green space (nearly 50 hectares!) covering the grounds of what used to be the castle Hirosaki-jō. All that remains of the actual castle is a 200-year-old keep, but the park is marbled with the old moats, which are now flanked by sakura and crisscrossed with photogenic arching bridges.

There are over 2500 cherry trees here and given that Hirosaki, way up north in Aomori Prefecture, is not the population center that Tokyo (or even Kyoto) is, you can expect a bit more room to move around. Rent a paddle boat to take out on the moats, which are invariably covered in pink petals.


Fuji Five Lakes, Yamanashi, offers the best blossom photos
The view from the Churei-tō Pagoda in Fuji Five Lakes is the ultimate sakura photo: in one frame you get a classic five-story pagoda, with curving eaves and vermillion accents, a frothy sea of cherry blossoms beneath it, and on the horizon, triumphant Mt Fuji still draped in snow. (Odds are you've seen the image on a guidebook cover or two.) So what if the pagoda itself isn't actually old (it's a war memorial from the 1960s) and you have to climb 397 steps to get here?

Arakurayama Sengen-kōen (a park, home to a not-so-shabby 680 sakura trees) is in Fuji-Yoshida, a city at the base of Mt Fuji. It's just about possible as a day trip from Tokyo, but you could also budget an extra day or two for hiking in the foothills of the Fuji Five Lakes region, for the chance of even more Mt Fuji views.


Photo by Yuri Yuhara:


When: middle of March and into April. 

Best Spots: Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Sumida Park, Koishikawa Botanical Gardens

Tokyo is the easiest to plan a trip to in Japan, and there are several places to enjoy hanami while also touring the past pace city life.

800 trees lining the paths through the park, Ueno Park is one of the most popular (and busiest) hanami spots in all of Tokyo. At night you can even view the trees by lanterns! Shinjuku Gyoen is a gorgeous green refugee of traditional gardens and a quaint traditional tea house. Quietly enjoy the breathtaking sight of 1,300 cherry trees blooming at different stages. Sumida Park is the perfect spot for hanami, a picnic under the blossoms, and is an easy 5 minute walk from Asakusa station and close to Tokyo Skytree. The Koishikawa Botanical Gardens is home to thousands of cherry trees if you're looking to get away from the busy city feel. 



When: middle of March and into April. 

Best Spots: Nijo Castle, Maruyama Park, Hirano Shrine, Kyoto Botanical Gardens, Daigoji Temple, Philosopher's Path

Get transported back in time by viewing cherry blossoms along UNESCO World Heritage Sites and ancient temples in Kyoto. The Nijo Castle is a beautiful place to explore all year round but spring makes it a particularly popular spot to view their various species of cherry blossom trees. Maruyama Park is where you can witness the blend of new and old, with traditional Japanese style set against the modernity of downtown Kyoto, making it a top hanami spot! Don't miss the yozakura of Gion, a special cherry tree at the entrance which is illuminated at night. This spot is the most popular and often crowded. The Hirano Shrine is a popular spot for changing into tradtional garb to view the blossoms and snap some photos. The Kyoto Botanical Gardens is the largest conservatory in Japan and has some of the most beautiful trees in Kyoto. At night, the trees are lit with lanterns so you can enjoy hanami in the evening. Daigoji Temple has been a popular spot for hanami for centuries, and the first cherry trees were planted over 700 years ago! t is also famous for Somei Yoshino, the weeping cherry blossom, as well as the beautiful cherry blossom tunnel at the approach to the temple.


Sakura Cherry Blossoms in Osaka, Japan Photo by Bagus Pangestu:


When: middle of March and into April. 

Best Spots: Expo 70 Commemorative Park, Osaka Castle Park, Koriyama Castle, Settsukyo Park, Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka Mint

The Expo 70 Commemorative Park was the site of the 1970 World Exhibition, and is now home to more than 5,000 cherry trees, one of the highest concentrations in Japan. Home to over 300 cherry trees, Osaka Castle Park is one of the most popular places in the city to celebrate the hanami and the beginning of spring. The castle is also famous for the late-blooming, double-petal yaezakura cherry trees that can be found in the south of the plum grove, which is also a beautiful spot to enjoy the plum blossoms that flower a little earlier from January through to March.

Photo by Tatiana Gerus, Татьяна Герус


Mount Yoshino (Nara)

This historic landmark is home to over 30,000 cherry trees of many types and colors, the first of which were planted over 1300 years ago. Thanks to the unique environment and sloping hills there is a magical atmosphere amongst the beauty and idyllic shrines, temples, and parks 




Takato Castle Park (Nagano)

With over 1500 pink Kohigan cherry trees, Takato Castle Park is famous for cherry blossom viewing. They also hold a lively festival with stalls, activities, and evening illuminations. 


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