Places

20 sakura (cherry blossom) spots to visit across Japan in 2018

By Len Kitagawa and Max Burt

Cherry blossom season is rapidly approaching and it will soon be time for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) across the country. Hanami is a tradition that is hundreds of years old and is enormously popular to this day. Here are 20 spots The Japan Times recommends for viewing sakura (cherry blossoms) across Japan in 2018, starting in Hokkaido in the far north of the country, and moving through Honshu and onward to Kyushu in the south.

We’ve provided the forecasted blossoming times for each spot, but for more detailed and up-to-date predictions, visit the map on the Tenki Navigator website.


Goryokaku Park (Hokkaido Prefecture)

Yuki Shimazu CC BY-SA 2.0

Goryokaku Park is iconic not only for its unusual star shape, but also for the 1,600 cherry trees that bloom during spring. Visitors can rent a boat and row the moat surrounding the park to see the cherry blossoms from below.


Hirosaki Park (Aomori Prefecture)

Reiji Yoshida

Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture has 2,600 cherry trees, comprised of 50 different varieties. The park is located among the ruins of Hirosaki Castle and is illuminated at night. Hirosaki Park has been proclaimed by many as one of the top three spots for hanami in Japan.

  • Blossoms from late April to early May
  • Sakura Festival: April 21-May 6
  • Admission: high school and above, ¥310; elementary/middle school-aged children, ¥100
  • Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/pDa3h3S6cFK2

Tenshochi Park (Iwate Prefecture)

Gribeco CC BY-SA 4.0

Tenshochi Park is home to around 10,000 cherry trees and is best enjoyed in late spring. The park is renowned for its long cherry tree tunnels and has been selected as one of the Sakura Meisho Hyakusen, Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom viewing sites.

  • Blossoms from early-late April
  • Sakura Festival: April 10-May 6
  • Admission: middle school and older, ¥500; elementary school, ¥300; below elementary school, free
  • Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/thzsHJiiGzK2

Tsutsujigaoka Park (Miyagi Prefecture)

Kimon Berlin CC BY-SA 2.0

Tsutsujigaoka Park has 360 cherry trees and is listed in Nihon Toshi Koen Hyakusen as one of the hundred most popular urban-area parks in Japan. The park becomes crowded at night when it is lit by chōchin lanterns and street stalls are set up for visitors.


Hanamiyama Park (Fukushima Prefecture)

SONY DSC
Behbeh CC BY-SA 3.0

Hanamiyama Park in Fukushima Prefecture is known as a gathering place for flower and tree farmers, and flowers of one variety or another are in bloom there year round. The park has hundreds cherry trees and it is one of the most popular sakura spots in the prefecture.


Miharu Takizakura (Fukushima Prefecture)

Petal power: The famous solitary taki-zakura (waterfall cherry tree) in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, is a popular tourist spot in spring.
Kyodo

This Fukushima Prefecture park is well known for its cherry blossoms. It is home to Miharu Takizakura, which translates to “waterfall cherry tree.” This large weeping sakura tree is one of the most famous in Japan.

  • Blossoms from mid-April
  • Sakura Festival: none
  • Admission: Middle school and older, ¥300; below middle school, free
  • Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/bBBs2S2Sifz

Garyu Park (Nagano Prefecture)

Koichi Shibata CC BY-SA 3.0

Garyu Park is listed in the Sakura Meisho Hyakusen as one of the hundred best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan. It is home to over 600 cherry trees and there is a small zoo inside the park, making it one of the most popular sakura-viewing spots in Nagano Prefecture.

  • Blossoms from mid April
  • Sakura Festival: April 7-25
  • Admission: free (Zoo: Adults, ¥200; children in middle school, ¥70)
  • Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/JKWmRWWkvCm

Mitsuike Park (Kanagawa Prefecture)

Danny Choo CC BY-SA 2.0

Mitsuike Park in Kanagawa prefecture is home to 1,600 cherry trees that surround three lakes. The park is included in the Sakura Meisho Hyakusen list as one of hundred best sakura spots in Japan.


Mount Fuji/Lake Kawaguchi (Shizuoka/Yamanashi prefectures)

TravelBusy CC BY 2.0

The Five Lakes region is not only a prime spot to view Mount Fuji but also a great place to catch the sakura. Lake Kawaguchi is surrounded by cherry blossom trails that continue onward to Nagasaki Park. For centuries, artists have used the view of Mount Fuji framed with cherry blossoms as inspiration for their paintings, prints and artwork.


Yamazaki River (Aichi Prefecture)

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE
Bariston CC BY-SA 3.0

Yamazaki River, also known as “the Way of Four Seasons,” is renowned for its year-long natural beauty. In spring, it becomes especially popular as 600 cherry trees bloom along a 2.8-kilometer-long walking trail that runs beside the river.


Shokubutsu Garden (Kyoto Prefecture)

Kimon Berlin CC BY-SA 2.0

Kyoto’s Shokubutsu Garden (botanical garden) is home to 450 cherry trees. It is well known for its diverse collection of trees, and there are 130 different varieties of cherry tree in the park. Beside the cherry trees, the garden is home to some 12,000 varieties of other flowering plants.


Osaka Castle Park (Osaka Prefecture)

Chris Gladis CC BY-ND 2.0

The interior of Osaka’s iconic castle is home to some 600 cherry trees, making this spot exceptionally popular. Cherry blossoms can be viewed from within the castle grounds or within the park that surrounds the castle, which contains 3,000 flowering trees in total.


Mount Yoshino (Nara Prefecture)

Reginald Pentinio CC BY 2.0

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Yoshino has been considered one of the best locations for hanami for several centuries. It boasts 30,000 sakura trees of different varieties spread out across 8 kilometers of paths the cross the historic mountain.


Himeji Castle (Hyogo Prefecture)

Wei-Te Wong CC BY-SA 2.0

Himeji Castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Hyogo Prefecture is one of the most popular sakura spots in Japan. It is renowned for its nighttime illumination of the 1,000-plus cherry trees that surround the castle.

  • Blossoms from early April
  • Sakura Festival: April 7
  • Admission: Outer castle: Free; Inner castle: adults, ¥1,000; children (below high school), ¥300
  • Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/yi9Wdykxefy

Kagawa Prefectural Kikaku Park (Kagawa Prefecture)

御門桜 CC by SA 3.0

Kikaku Park has a 20-meter-wide, 300-meter-long path lined with 200 cherry trees. The path leads to Usa Jingu, a well known Shinto shrine. A cherry blossom festival is held in the park on April 1.


Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima Prefecture)

Hiroaki Kaneko CC by SA 4.0

The Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima is a popular spot for a quiet hanami. The park can be explored on foot, by car or with a river cruise. The park is home to 300 cherry trees together with roses, tulips, azaleas, and oleanders.


Matsuyama Castle (Ehime Prefecture)

Jyo81 CC BY 3.0

Matsuyama Castle in Ehime features in the Sakura Meisho Hyakusen list of 100 top cherry blossom spots. Located 132 meters above sea level, on top of Mount Katsu, it is best accessed via cable car.

  • Blossoms from late March to early April
  • Sakura Festival: April 7-8
  • Admission: Adults, ¥510 (cable car is free); children, ¥310; elderly, free. There are discounts for groups of 25-100 people.
  • Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/xH1GtkS6TDN2

Nishi Park (Fukuoka Prefecture)

Torne (where’s my lens cap?) CC BY 2.0

Fukuoka’s Nishi Park surrounds Terumo Shrine, and boasts 1,300 cherry trees. It is well known for its views across the city, Hakata Bay and Shikanoshima Island. The park’s cherry trees are lit up at night. While you’re in the area, take a short walk to the ruins of Fukuoka Castle to see the sakura illuminations there.


Ogi Park (Saga Prefecture)

Aratsuku CC BY 4.0

Ogi Park is one of Japan’s Rekishi Koen Hyakusen (100 historical parks). There are approximately 3000 cherry trees throughout the park, which is enjoyed for its evening light-up. Visitors can enjoy the mirrored images of the cherry blossoms reflected on the park’s lake.


Isshingyou no Ozakura (Kumamoto Prefecture)

gtknj CC BY 2.0

Isshingyou no Ozakura is located in Kumamoto Prefecture. At 400 years old, it is best known for its huge size. Despite the damages it took during a typhoon in 2004, it still stays strong, attracting many visitors each spring.


See a previous list of prime hanami spots here.