The Cherry Blossom or Sakura has been celebrated for centuries in Japan and is a very important part of Japanese culture. There is a variety of Cherry Trees in Japan but the majority bloom for a very short time each spring. Locally the trees and their bloom are celebrated with Hanami parties where family and friends gather around the trees to join in some good old fashioned drinking and singing while they admire the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms. So how can you get in on this unique and beautiful tradition? We’re here to explain just that and give you all the details you need to plan an amazing experience in Japan.
Traditionally, the rule of thumb is cherry blossom season begins right around April 1st. But this year, just like last year, it is actually expected as early as March 18th for the first blossoming on the island of Shikoku. A few days later is when Tokyo expects to see flowering with an official expected date of March 22nd. They will be in full bloom by Apil 2nd in Tokyo. The city of Sapporo expects a slightly later blooming date that lands between May 4th and May 8th.
So with blooming taking place in so many different places on so many different dates, where should you go? Well, you could get wild and plan a tour of as many blooms in as many different locations as possible, but here are some of our suggestions on where you should really plan to see.
Tokyo is obviously the main attraction for Japanese cities and they will have no shortage of bloom viewing. Shinjuku Gyo-en is a large park and garden in Shinjuku and Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. The garden has more than 20,000 trees, including approximately 1,500 cherry trees. Other trees found here include the majestic Himalayan cedars, which soar above the rest of the trees in the park, tulip trees, cypresses, and plane trees, which were first planted in Japan in the Imperial Gardens. Another great place to see in Japan is Yoyogi Park in Shibuya, Tokyo. The landscaped park has picnic areas, bike paths, cycle rentals, and public sports courts and is a perfect viewing park for cherry blossom season. One of the best places outside of Tokyo for viewing is Himeji Castle, a hilltop Japanese castle in Himeji. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 rooms. Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan’s three premier castles but it also contains expansive gardens with amazing views of cherry trees.