by Bryce Marley-Jarrett
It’s coming up to the most wonderful time of the year in Japan - no it isn’t Christmas, it’s Sakura season! This is Japan’s busiest season for tourists both domestic and international. Everyone flocks to see the majestic blooms on the cherry trees all over Japan while enjoying time with friends and family under the blossoms. From late March through to early May the trees bloom from Southern Japan to the most Northmost tip. Without further ado here is the ultimate guide to Sakura Season in Japan for 2015.
Sakura season is a magical time in Japan, from the first bloom till the last petal falls, the country is blanketed in a palette of pink and white hues, showing the world that spring has most definitely sprung. Throughout this time, Japanese people come together with friends and family to enjoy the natural beauty and flock to parks, and river banks that are filled with sakura trees, and relax under the trees with picnics and drinks and embrace the beauty.
Another great part of the season is all the sakura flavored foods that suddenly appear on store shelves, cafe menus, inside vending machines, and at food stalls out on the street. You will find sakura flavored Starbucks coffee, the elusive sakura and green tea KitKat comes out to be devoured, and intricate sakura flavored candies that are almost too beautiful to eat make an appearance.
Japan is sakura mad during the season, and its easy to see why! So to make sure you're in the right place at the right time here is the 2015 best dates for seeing sakura from the first bloom in major areas of Japan:
Please note: the dates shown below is the start of the anticipated first bloom for the region. Generally the best viewing is approximately a week after the dates mentioned below for about two weeks.
Sapporo 5th May 2015
Aomori 24th April 2015
Sendai 11th April 2015
Tokyo 26th March 2015
Nagano 11th April 2015
Kanazawa 3rd April 2015
Nagoya 25th March 2015
Osaka 26th March 2015
Kyoto 26th March 2015
Nara 27th March 2015
Hiroshima 25th March 2015
Fukuoka 21st March 2015
Nagasaki 22nd March 2015
Miyazaki 22nd March 2015
Okinawa 15th January 2015
Data from Japan Weather Association. Please note: forecast is subject to change due to weather conditions.
So now that you know the best weeks to see the sakura all across Japan, here are Japlanning's best spots to relax and take in the beauty of the season throughout major cities in Japan -
In Tokyo, sakura season is quite an amazing site. With many large public parks, with countless cherry blossom trees throughout they parks almost look like it has snowed in hues of white and pink.
Japlanning's top picks are:
Shinjuku Gyoen - With over a thousand cherry trees blossoming as well as pristine gardens, this tranquil escape in the middle of bustling Shinjuku, Tokyo is a must see during Sakura.
Ueno Park - Ueno park is busy throughout the year, however during Sakura, it is insane. It sometimes feels like all of Tokyo has descended on the massive park, with over 1000 cherry trees, lining pathways and scattered across the park, you must come to Ueno to feel the festiveness of the season.
Chidorigafuchi - This is easily Japlanning’s favourite spot in Tokyo (maybe even all of Japan) with hundreds of cherry trees lining the banks of the moats of the Imperial Palace grounds (pictured in the main shot), this area is perfect. Relax with a picnic on the banks, with street vendors about selling traditional snacks and treats, you can even rent cute little row boats and take a ride through the moats and look up at the blossoms. It's the kind of beauty you can post a million times on Instagram and still not capture the enormity of it all.
Osaka is filled with cherry trees that erupt in blossoms through the start of April.
Japlanning's top pick is:
Osaka Castle - This is easily the winner in Osaka as the must see place to experience the Sakura in bloom. The historic and beautiful Osaka Castle is the backdrop, and the trees are all through the gardens and adjoining park and along the river bank. Simply beautiful.
Kyoto is the perfect place for experiencing Sakura season with its hundreds of ancient temples and shrines as a backdrop, it is a photographers paradise this time of year.
Japlanning's top picks are:
Philosopher's Path - This tranquil path is just off the Silver Pavilion Shrine and follows a beautiful cobblestone canal with hundreds of cherry trees lining the way.
Most Temples and Shrines - Really the majority of shrines and temples have impeccable gardens with Cherry trees planted throughout the grounds, they make for beautiful scenes, and take you back centuries to ancient Japan.
In Nara itself you will find many great Sakura viewing locations, around Shrines and Temples, however in the Nara Prefecture there is one standout, considered the ultimate Sakura viewing location in all of Japan for centuries.
Japlanning's top pick is:
Mount Yoshino - This is the ultimate location in Japan for Sakura viewing, and has been regarded this for centuries, with over 30,000 Sakura trees over the mountain this is the single largest area covered with the pink and white hues in this beautiful Season. Mt Yoshino's bloom starts in late March and spans to full bloom by mid April. Due the the varying elevations across the mountain the full blooms are staggered over a few days from the lower to upper areas of the mountain. Due to this be wary on the time bloom will begin, it is one of the areas where the start and end times can change dramatically from the weather we see each year.
Sapporo is a great place to get in the Sakura spirit with a late full bloom in early May, so if you have missed out on most of southern Japan, head up to Sapporo to still get into the season
Japlannings top pick is:
Maruyama Park - Maruyama Park is located next to historic Hokkaido Shrine and is the main spot for Sapporians to come celebrate the season. The park has wide open vistas where people congregate on mats and enjoy the company and food and drinks under the cherry blossoms.
This time of year is easily one of the best times to visit Japan. With everything the country already has to offer a traveller, year round, Sakura blooms across the land of the rising sun, dusting the country with the most beautiful blossoms and getting to see the beautiful Japanese natives relax, unwind and celebrate under the trees!
Japan is simply a great place to visit anytime of year; However Spring during Sakura season is the standout. The beauty of a nation blanketed with pink and white hues of the blossoms is a sight that everyone should experience one time in their life. Add along the spirit and party atmosphere of the Japanese people during this season; if you can make it to Japan in this timeframe do it.
Stay tuned to Japlanning.com this Sakura season, as the team will be in Japan from March 28th 2015 through April to bring you live updates of the most beautiful season in Japan.