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All of Japan comes together to welcome the arrival of SAKURA, the Japanese cherry blossom. As the flowers burst into life the country celebrates the start of spring and the end to cold winter days. Everyone will have at least one hanami picnic under a local sakura tree, and most will do all they can for the short 10 days of the season to soak in the beautiful spring bouquet.
The truth is, almost anywhere you go in Japan during this season will capture your heart and soul with the sakura tree. Planted all around the country in abundance, from the smallest city park to the largest castles and rivers, anywhere you happen to land, you will be sure to find a piece of the beauty.
According to More than Tokyo, sakura in Japan signify endings and beginnings, summed up with the phrase:
Mono no aware | a feeling of awe and appreciation for the transience of things, of life, and of love. --> READ MORE
Yoshino has over 30,000 trees planted across the mountain, giving viewers a breathtaking overview of pure beauty. The unique elevation means peak bloom is reached at different times during the season.
The Philosopher's Path runs through northern Kyoto, and gives you a delightfully scenic along the small canal lined with sakura trees bursting in delicate pinks and whites. Separate from the bustle of temples and city life, it feels like a walk through an old Japanese town and a touch of what the past might have felt like.
View on YouTube --> Philosopher's Path
Recently renovated, this marvelous white castle sits amid gardens full of the beautiful trees. Some of the gardens require a fee to enter, but the free gardens are also home to the Japanese sakura.
from Estelle Pizer on Instagram: "This is how people often think of Mt Fuji. A generous dollop of snow on top surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom. Her proper uniform some may say. If you follow others living here, one could also say this is a uniform photo that will continue appearing across instagram for the next couple of weeks as the sakura bloom." --> READ MORE
🌸 Gyoda | Saitama
from Estelle Pizer on Instagram: "A little over an hour from Tokyo by car, is the town of Gyōda in Saitama Prefecture. I went there today and my first stop just after sunrise was this place with sakura trees atop a hill. Except this is not a hill. This is a kofun, an ancient burial mound from the 5th and 6th centuries. Kofun are dotted throughout Japan.
The one in this photo is Maruhakayama Kofun and it is one of the largest circular burial mounds in Japan with a diameter of 105m. This Kofun is the highest in the park, Sakitama Kofun Park. You can climb up and over it to the other side and have a gorgeous 360° view from the top." --> READ MORE
🌸 Shingashi River | Saitama
from Estelle Pizer on Instagram: ‘Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.’ Rumi
"On Monday, I stopped here a little before dusk on the Shingashi river behind Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture. It’s a little over an hour’s drive by car from Tokyo and only 30 minutes on an express train from Ikebukuro. " --> READ MORE
🌸 YOSHIMI SAKURA ZUTSUMI PARK
from Estelle Pizer on Instagram: "I don’t really have the words to describe the beauty and magic of this place, Yoshimi Sakura Zutsumi park. Even in the light rain on Sunday morning, the beauty of the never-ending path of giant sakura trees made even prettier with the yellow nanohana (canola) on either side, is what I imagine heaven to look like. " --> READ MORE
NOTABLE SPOTS IN TOKYO
Tokyo needs a separate bracket as there are so many famous and beloved hanami picnic spots for both residents and visitors. Some notable places are:
With over 1,000 trees in many varieties that peak at different times over the season. Note: this park requires an entrance fee.
Shinjuku Gyoen Park
A walk along the waterway is a spectacular cherry blossom array and the whole area turns into an evening festival during the season with lights to spotlight the trees, restaurants, street vendors and an all around good time.
This large sprawling park in downtown Tokyo makes it a great place to have your hanami picnic with friends and family. Bring a blue sheet to sit on and your obento, lots to drink and spend an afternoon chilling with the rest of the city.
Yoyogi Park with @itsmicahng
A great traditional spot especially good for kids as there is a full playground in the middle.
Tokyo Sakura in 60 seconds with @theshopoholicdiaries
A woodland park that was once residence to the Tokugawa Clan, and easily accessible from Kudanshita Station. Not only a beautiful place to see cherry blossoms in the spring, a visit in the fall is well worth the time, filling your soul with the rich reds and golds of turning colors.
TONERI PARK | TOKYO/SAITAMA
A green oasis in the concrete jungle with over 1,000 cherry blossoms trees of a few different varieties which extends the season.
KAYAKING IN THE CANALS | TOKYO
Take a kayaking journey through the Tokyo canals under the beautiful blossoming trees overhead.
Known as the burial place for six Tokugawa shogun, Zojoji Temple is located close to the Tokyo Sky Tower.
NOTABLE SPOTS IN KANSAI
View on YouTube: Top 5 Spots in Osaka
🌸 BANPAKU PARK | SUITA
Banpaku Park requires an entry fee, but because of this it keeps the crowds down. Full of wide grassy areas, it makes a great place to bring kids to play. With restaurants in the park, and Expo City and a mall there, you have lots of good eating choices!
Sakuranomiya is famous in Osaka and the entire river area there has food stalls and places to sit until night.
🌸 OSAKA MINT
The Osaka Mint has late blooming flowers and an insane variety that you can stroll through to look at, but it can get really crowded as it's usually only open for a week. You can't stop and do hanami, but if you want to see a wide variety of sakura (they even have green ones), it's a great place to see a bunch at once.
🌸 OSAKA CASTLE PARK
Found in the center of Osaka City, the park fills up with happy picnic-ers and trees bursting with beautiful blossoms, filling visitors with happiness and delight in the amazing scene. With the Osaka Castle in the background, it's a great place to take pefect pictures of your visit during the Sakura Season.
Osaka Castle Park
🌸 KAMO RIVER | KYOTO
Not overrated, this beautiful stretch of the river is lined with trees that burst into color for a few and is filled with hanami revelers all along the way.
🌸 SHUKUGAWA RIVER | NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO
🌸 HASEDERA | NARA
🌸 UDA | NARA
OTHER NOTABLE SPOTS
🌸 Yunokami Onsen | Fukushima
Being up north, the cherry blossom bloom in May, so if you want to catch more beauty later in the year, head this direction!
train to Yunokami Onsen
With its broad streets and open spaces, this city gives home to many 'weeping' cherry trees whose beautiful long flowing branches reach their flowery arms down to the earth giving shade to all in the vicinity. According to legend, this old samurai village was filled with the trees by samurai trying to outperform each other. Many of the trees here were imported from Kyoto.
This is just a small list of some of the amazing places you can visit and partake of the country's jubilance over winter's end, but it's not the end. If you happen to visit Japan at the peak cherry blossom season, wherever you go you're sure to find some trees to celebrate under.
Check out this 2023 Sakura Forecast map to guide you through the peak bloom dates this year!
And if you're confused about the difference between a cherry, peach and plum blossom, this makes it easy to remember:
I'd be remiss if I didn't put in a plug for my handmade Sakura Collection, pieces full of the delicate gentle colors of spring, made to bring you smiles and happiness as you celebrate rebirth and renewal. Best of all, these flowers don't fade and can be worn all year long!
Check out these YouTube clips for more peeks at fabulous Sakura Cherry Blossoms in Japan!