Cherry blossom season in Japan is a time countless people of all ages gather across the country to welcome the beginning of spring. Hanami, cherry blossom viewing parties, is a tradition that is hundreds of years old and is still popular to this day.
Here are some of the best locations for viewing sakura in Japan.
Originally a private garden, Shinjuku Gyoen was eventually made public so everyone can enjoy its 20,000 trees, including 1,500 sakura trees. What makes this location so popular is its variation of cherry tree species that bloom from March to the end of April.
Ueno Park has around 1,000 sakura trees, most of which line the main path through the park. The green space is extremely popular during hanami season when it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors daily. Lanterns will illuminate the park in the evening (5:30-8 p.m.).
Seeing the iconic castle surrounded by 600 cherry trees is what makes this location so popular. The castle grounds are not the only place to view sakura since the larger park itself contains 4,000 cherry trees in total.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Yoshino in Nara Prefecture has been considered one of the best locations for hanami for several centuries. It boasts 30,000 sakura trees in many different varieties spread out over an 8 km path through the historic mountain.
The hanami event at Hirosaki Park in Aomori prefecture consists of 2,600 cherry trees including 80 different types located among the ruins of Hirosaki Castle. This park is also illuminated at night and admission is free. Hirosaki Park has been proclaimed by many as one of the top three spots for hanami in the all of Japan.
Nagano Prefecture’s Takato Castle’s cherry blossoms are renowned for their unique crimson coloring. The ruins contain over 1,500 trees which are also illuminated during the evening until 10 p.m. These ruins are another one of the top three hanami spots in the country.
Fukushima Prefecture is well known for its cherry blossoms. Most notable is its Miharu’s Waterfall Cherry Tree, a large weeping sakura tree that is one of the most famous in Japan.
This popular spot is filled with usuzumi-zakura (literally “light Chinese-ink color cherry tree”). It is believed that the tree were planted by an emperor 1,500 years ago and is famous for its petals that gradually change from pale pink to the color of its name.
The Five Lakes region is not only the prime spot to view Mount Fuji but also catch views of sakura. Artists have been painting pictures of Mount Fuji framed with cherry blossoms for many years.
While Kamakura is famous for his historic temples, some forget that it is also a prime hanami location. There are many shrines and restaurants where tourists can rest their legs and enjoy the pink view.
Compiled by Nicholas Lanza