Where to see cherry blossoms in Japan

To welcome the season of spring, the Japanese traditionally used to hold Hanami parties – flower viewing – in appreciation of the plum blossoms. Now, millions of tourists join in the celebrations that have come to be associated with the sakura season. All over the country, there are hundreds of places to see cherry blossoms in Japan.

We’ve got the deets on all the hot spots and some lesser-known ones if you’re looking to avoid the swarm of tourists. Pack a mat in your suitcase ‘cause you don’t want to miss the experience of a picnic surrounded by the pink flowers in their full bloom.

What month are cherry blossoms in Japan?

Sakura season in Japan starts in March and ends in May, so you’ve got about a 6-week window to see the flowers. However, they are only in full bloom about 10 days of the year which largely falls between late March and early April.

Down south in Fukuoka, the cherry blossoms start blooming a little earlier around the third week of March. As you move up north they start flowering a little later such as in Sapporo where the peak is the first week of May.

Do note that the dates mentioned for 2024 for each city below are estimated forecasts and actual dates will firm up as we get closer to the season.

– Around Osaka, Nara & Kyoto –

1. Osaka Castle Park

Photo ops with the castle as the backdrop

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Osaka Castle Park
Image credit: Takashi Mori via Facebook 

Anyone who has visited Osaka, has probably visited Osaka Castle Park. It is a major attraction after all. But let me tell you that your photos would turn out very different if you visit when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

The 100-hectare park that surrounds the main castle has over 3,000 cherry trees that show off their flowers during spring. For the best viewing point, head to the south side of the castle where you can capture the building and trees in the same frame. Another tip – stay till evening when the castle and about 300 trees will all light up together, offering a spectacular view.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Kema Sakuranomiya Park
Cross the Temmabashi Bridge to get to the other side of the river.
Image credit: m-louis via Wikimedia

Continue walking along the Okawa River and after about 40 minutes, you’ll reach Kema Sakuranomiya Park. This is another cherry blossom viewing spot where locals go for a walk, jog or ride bicycles. If you’ve got the time to spare, it’s worth adding to your itinerary after the castle.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March

Book tickets to Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle Park
Admission: Free
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: Osaka Castle Park website 

Kema Sakuranomiya Park
Admission: Free
Address: Nakanocho, Miyakojima Ward, Osaka, 534-0027, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +81 6-6912-0650

2. Hirakata Park

Lesser-known suburban amusement park

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Hirakata Park
Image adapted from: Discover Osaka via Facebook, @hirakatapark via Instagram

After you’ve ticked off Harry Potter World and Super Nintendo World at USS Japan, the next theme park for more rides and fun is Hirakata Park. Trust us, when we say that getting a top-down view of cherry blossoms from atop a Ferris wheel hits different. They make for really pretty photos too.

At Hirakata Park, you’ll get to enjoy rides such as roller coasters and swinging chairs while simultaneously checking out the blooms around the park. For those travelling with the young ones, there are plenty of kid-friendly rides too including bumper cars and a choo-choo train.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March

1-1 Hirakatakōenchō, Hirakata, Osaka 573-0054, Japan
Opening Hours: Saturday 10:00 a.m - 08:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

3. Nara Park

Encounter free-roaming deers

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Nara Park
Image credit: @narapark0214 via Instagram

Nara Park is easily one of the best spots for seeing cherry blossoms in Japan thanks to the unique experience offered by its friendly residents. In case you haven’t heard, over a thousand deers roam around freely in the park and many of them can be found relaxing under the trees.

The park is just a 40-minute train ride from Osaka and admission is free, so it’s not to be missed. Those who would like to feed the deer can buy a pack of crackers (¥200, ~S$1.80) but be mindful of keeping a safe distance from the creatures.

One of Nara Park’s other highlights is the area around Sagi-ike Pond and the Ukimido gazebo. The cherry blossoms fall into the pond, turning it pink – the perfect spot for a romantic picnic, perhaps? The pond even lights up at night.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March to mid-April

Book a day tour of Nara Park.

Admission: Free
Address: 469 Zoshicho, Nara, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: Nara Park website 

4. Mount Yoshino

Bird’s eye view of the sakura from the top

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Mount Yoshino
Image credit: @kandarprj via Instagram

The photo says it all – Mount Yoshino gets almost completely taken over by pink blossoms during spring. We’re talking roughly 30,000 trees. And the vantage point is an easy 60-minute hike up the mountain. However, if you’re not keen to walk up, just hop onto a shuttle bus from Yoshino Station that will bring you to Naka Senbon Park.

At each elevation of the mountain, there are different things to see. The base consists of Shimo Senbon town lined with restaurants and shops. Slightly further up you’ll come across Kinpusenji Temple and Yoshimizu Shrine, the latter of which is another good viewing point. But Hanayagura View Point is where you want to gun for, for panoramic views of the entire mountainside.

Best time to visit in 2024: Early to mid-April

Book a Mount Yoshino cherry blossom day tour.

5. Maruyama Park

Nearly 100-year-old giant weeping tree

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Maruyama Park weeping tree
Image credit: @kurusu_0715 via Instagram

Maruyama Park is the spot in Kyoto for capturing the sakura season in your memories … and camera. What makes it famous is the big weeping tree that stands in the middle of the park and is over 90 years old. Its predecessor, which stood in the same spot, delighted locals for 220 years before dying.

When you need a break, take a seat at one of the open-air blossom-viewing tearooms. Enjoy the view while sipping on hot tea. 

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Maruyama Park at night
Image credit: Peter Thoeny via Flickr

It’s highly recommended to see the tree at night too, when floodlights are shone to illuminate it.

Best time to visit in 2024: End of March to first week of April

Admission: Free
Address: Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0071, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: Maruyama Park website 

6. Philosopher’s Path

2km long walking trail lined with pink & white trees

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Philosopher's Path
Image credit: @ix_____ixxv via Instagram

For a leisurely stroll in Kyoto, head to Philosopher’s Path where hundreds of cherry blossom trees line a 2km-long canal. The formation is such that the trees create a “pink tunnel”, making it a very pretty spot for photos anywhere along the path.

During autumn, the same area will feature different hues of orange. It’s also a very popular spot for experiencing fall in Japan. Along the path, one can also find restaurants, cafes and boutiques as well as shrines and temples.

Best time to visit in 2024: Early to mid-April

Book a day tour from Osaka to Philosopher’s Path.

7. Himeji Castle

Postcard-perfect photos from any angle

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Himeji Castle
Image credit: @castlegarden88 via Instagram

If you’re in Osaka, you might as well make the trip to Himeji Castle that’s only a 1-hour 20-minute train ride away. It also happens to be one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. For about 2 weeks during spring, the grounds are painted pink with blooms on over a thousand trees.

These can be seen FOC from the outside but if you’re keen to enter the castle, the admission fee is ¥1,000 (~S$9.30). You can then see the sakura from the top floor of the castle. Another way to view the blossoms is via a boat ride ¥1,000 (~S$9.30) on the moat surrounding the castle. One location, numerous photos ops

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March to first week of April

Himeji Castle
68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Opening Hours: Saturday 09:00 a.m - 04:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

– Around Tokyo –

The capital city of Japan isn’t one to miss when it comes to sakura season. While there are plenty of cherry blossom spots in Tokyo, here are some of the highlights:

8. Ueno Park

Biggest cherry blossom festival in Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Ueno Park cherry blossom festival
Image credit: @hirotoshi718 via Instagram

If you’re ready to brave a huge crowd, then the biggest cherry blossom festival in Japan happens at Ueno Park. According to the tourism board, up to 3 million visitors flock to the festival annually, so be prepared to squeeze through lots of people to get your pics.

There are numerous reasons why this spot is so popular for sakura viewing. For one, there are over a thousand sakura trees featuring blossoms of different shades from pink to white.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Kaneji Temple
Look out for the pretty hanging lanterns along the pathways that light up after dark.
Image credit: @lukki6k via Instagram

There’s also a spot in the park where you can see the 5-storey pagoda of the majestic Kaneiji Temple in the background. And the park opens till late every day so you can catch the illuminated trees after sundown.

While walking around the gigantic park, you’ll come across torii gates, shrines, museums, and historical monuments – pretty much the complete Japanese experience. Families with kids, don’t forget to check out the zoo while you’re there.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March to early April

Admission: Free
Address: Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan
Opening hours: 5am-11pm, Daily
Contact: Ueno website

9. Chidorigafuchi Moat

View the cherry blossoms from a rowboat

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Chidorigafuchi Moat
Image credit: Andrea Conway via Facebook

The huge crowds from Ueno Park extend to the nearby Chidorigafuchi Moat too. But the show put up by the cherry blossoms is more than worth it. The queues will be long but renting a rowboat (¥500, ~S$4.57) for 30 minutes is a must as these offer a unique viewing experience.

The walkways alongside the moat feature cherry trees forming a canopy – perfect for a relaxing stroll.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - illuminated trees
Image credit: @siilix.travel via Instagram

Like most of the gardens on this list, the trees will be illuminated with LED lights so feel free to drop by at night too.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March to early April

Admission: Free
Address: Sanbancho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 102-0091, Japan
Opening hours: 9am-4pm, Daily
Contact: +81 3-3264-2111

10. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

About 68 types of cherry blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Image credit: Danny Dungo via Facebook

Is that a photo of Central Park and The Empire State Building? Not exactly, it’s Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. With lots of grassland, it is a lovely picnic spot. So, pack some Japanese snacks and hunker down to enjoy the sakura season.

While a layman may not be able to tell the difference between different species of cherry blossoms, you should know that the national garden has almost 70 varieties. Look a little closer at each tree to see the slight differences in the flowers.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March to early April

Admission: ¥500/pax (~S$4.57)
Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-4pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden website

11. Yomiuri Land

View cherry blossom trees while zipping through a roller coaster ride

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Yomiuri Land
Speed through the trees at 110km/h on the Bandit.
Image credit: @yomiuriland via Instagram

Spring at Yomiuri Land is a very different picture than other seasons. You’ll be able to see a sea of pink beneath from the highest point of the theme park. That’s either aboard the high-speed roller coaster or in a cable car for something less heart-pumping.

There are numerous ways to enjoy the cherry blossoms including from a Ferris wheel. If the weather is clear, you may even spot the Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji in the distance. The theme park stays open till late during this time for visitors to see the trees illuminated in the dark.

Best time to visit in 2024: Late March to early April

4-chōme-1-4015-1 Yanokuchi, Tama Ward, Inagi, Tokyo 206-8725, Japan
Opening Hours: Saturday 09:30 a.m - 08:30 p.m  Show More Timings 
Cheapest S$28.15
Price displayed may vary from vendor site due to currency conversion.

– Other parts of Japan –

12. Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

Free admission for Hanami

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa
Night illumination of the cherry trees during Hanami.
Image credit: Visit Kanazawa

The easiest way to get to the city of Kanazawa is to take a 1-hour flight from Tokyo. Herein lies Kenrokuen Garden – one of the most photogenic cherry blossom spots in Japan. The flowers here bloom slightly later than in Tokyo and Osaka, so it’s the go-to place for those visiting in April.

During peak cherry blossom season, the usual admission fee is waived too. At the entrance, grab yourself a map to check out the water features, bridges, and hidden nooks in the garden. There are also a couple of teahouses where you can sit and soak in the atmosphere.

Best time to visit in 2024: Early to mid-April

Book a half-day Kanazawa walking tour.

Admission: ¥320/adult (~S$2.92) | ¥100/child (~S$0.91)
Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936, Japan
Opening hours: 7am-6pm, Daily
Contact: +81 76-234-3800

13. Goryokaku Tower, Hokkaido

Vantage point 90m above the ground

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Goryokaku Tower park
Image credit: 五稜郭タワー / Goryokaku Tower Facebook

Up north in Hokkaido, Goryokaku Tower is where you want to view the cherry blossoms from. The blooms here also peak later than in Tokyo and Osaka, around the end of April. The tower is surrounded by a star-shaped moat which can be seen from high up on the observation deck.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Goryokaku Tower
Image credit: 五稜郭タワー / Goryokaku Tower Facebook

The tower gives you a top-down view of the surrounding cherry blossom trees from a height of 90m. If you stay till dusk, you’ll get to see the illuminated lanterns hung around the park, creating the ideal moment for the ‘Gram.

Best time to visit in 2024: Late April to early May

43-9 Goryōkakuchō, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001, Japan
Opening Hours: Saturday 09:00 a.m - 06:00 p.m  Show More Timings 

14. Kintaikyo Bridge, Hiroshima

Iconic snake-like arched bridge

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Kintaikyo Bridge Hiroshima
Image credit: @rabbityama via Instagram

Kintaikyo Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Hiroshima, thanks to its design that features 5 arches. Apart from being an architectural beauty, its functional use is to cross the river to view the cherry blossoms on both sides of the river bank.

This is one of the spots that is usually less crowded than others in the city. Near the wooden bridge, there are a couple of famous ice cream shops which collectively serve over a hundred different flavours.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March

Admission: ¥310/pax (~S$2.83)
Address: Iwakuni, Yamaguchi 741-0062, Japan
Opening hours: 8am-6pm, Daily
Contact: Kintaikyo website 

15. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, Fukuoka

Baby blue flower fields to complement the sea of pink

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
Image credit: @uminonakamichiseasidepark via Instagram

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park has seasonal floral displays 365 days a year. But when the cherry blossoms are in season, the blue nemophila are too. Head straight to the Hill of Flowers where you can enjoy this wonderful spectacle and take tonnes of photos for the ‘Gram.

The park is also a one-stop destination for families with young kids, consisting of playgrounds, a water park, and a petting zoo. In fact, kids below 15 years old enter for free. To explore the vast grounds, one can also rent a bicycle and explore on 2 wheels. So, set aside about half a day to visit this park.

Best time to visit in 2024: Mid-March to end of March

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
18-25 Saitozaki, Higashi Ward, Fukuoka, 811-0321, Japan
Opening Hours: Saturday 09:30 a.m - 05:30 p.m  Show More Timings 

16. Lake Ashi, Hakone

Cable car ride & views of Mount Fuji

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Hakone Ropeway
Image credit: Odakyu Hakone Group

Lake Ashi might be better known for its pirate ship cruises but it is also a popular cherry blossom destination. For the best views, get on the Hakone Ropeway where you’ll see trees and the lake below. And on a good day, you may even see Mount Fuji.

A 1-way ticket costs ¥1,050/adult (~S$9.60) and ¥530/child (~S$4.84) while a round-trip costs ¥1,840/adult (~S$16.81) and ¥920/child (~S$8.41). The varieties of cherry trees you’ll be able to catch include Fuji, Oshima, and Yoshino – each a slightly different shade of pink.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of March

Book a day tour from Tokyo to Lake Ashi.

17. Kawazu River, Kawazu

Blooms as early as February

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Kawazu River
Kawazu River is surrounded by mountains and the ocean.
Image credit: @uh19670403 via Instagram

Kawazu River is one of the cherry blossom viewing spots where flowers start to bloom as early as February. This Japanese onsen town is 2.5 hours from Tokyo by train and holds the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival every year. The dates this year are 1st-29th February 2024.

Because of the warmer climate of this part of Japan, their blooming process is comparatively slower, resulting in a longer window to view them. Plus, the variety of cherry blossoms here is a slightly darker shade of pink.

Cherry Blossoms in Japan - Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival
Image credit: @02akr via Instagram

No festival is complete without food. You’ll find lines of snack stalls selling items in theme with the cherry blossom season as well as those selling knick-knacks to take home as souvenirs. Lastly, don’t miss the night illuminations from 6pm-9pm.

Best time to visit in 2024: Last week of February

Admission: ¥200/pax (~S$1.83)
Address: 48-6 Sasahara, Kawazu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 413-0512, Japan
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: Kawazu-zakura website 

Visit Japan during the cherry blossom season

With all the cherry blossom trees in Japan, you’d think that it’s the national flower – but no, it’s the chrysanthemum. Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly the best place to visit to see the blooms in all their glory. So, take note of the peak timings in each city and book your flights to Japan.

More things to see and do in Japan:

Cover image adapted from: @uminonakamichiseasidepark, @castlegarden88 & @yomiuriland via Instagram

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