Life | Article

7 Best Places To Catch the Sakura in Japan

by The Simple Sum | 12 Apr 2024 | 5 mins read

Japan’s cherry blossom season, known as “sakura”, is probably one of the most popular times to visit Japan.  

Famous for its breathtaking transient beauty and cultural significance, these delicate pink and white blossoms burst into full bloom during springtime each year.  

With cherry trees lining streets, parks, and walkways, there are ample places you can visit in Japan to witness this fleeting spectacle.  

If you’re thinking of travelling to Japan this spring, we’ve compiled a list of cherry blossom destinations to help you plan your sakura journey.

1. Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture) 

Nestled in the northern reaches of Japan, Hirosaki Park is a historical landmark with over 2,600 cherry blossom trees, some over 300 years old and 50 varieties of cherry blossom.  

You can stroll along the winding pathways under the cherry blossom trees (known as Sakura Tunnel), take a boat ride along the petal-filled moat, or participate in hanami (flower viewing) picnics beneath the cherry trees.  

You can even visit the 400-year-old Hirosak Castle – the only remaining castle tower in the Tohoku Region, to view the cherry blossoms in all its glory from the tower.  

Best time to visit: Mid-April

2. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo) 

In the heart of the bustling Shinjuku district in Tokyo lies Shinjuku Gyoen, a tranquil oasis revered for its stunning cherry blossoms.  

This expansive park boasts over 10,000 cherry trees of more than a dozen varieties. Wander through the groves of cherry trees along the pathway from Shinjuku Gate to the English Garden or relax by the serene pods while savouring the beauty of spring in the heart of the metropolis.  

Best time to visit: late March to early April 


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3. Philosopher’s Path (Kyoto) 

In the Higashiyama district in Kyoto, the Philosopher’s Path offers a serene retreat for cherry blossom enthusiasts. The 2 km-long stone path along a canal is adorned with hundreds of cherry trees. During the sakura session, the path transforms into an ethereal tunnel of blossoms.  

Named after the famed philosopher Nishida Kitaro, who reportedly strolled along its stone-lined banks in contemplation, the path begins around Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in the Nanzenji.  

You can even stop by some shops and cafes along the path to have a cup of tea while enjoying the serene beauty of the blossoms.  

Best time to visit: late March to early April

4. Himeji Castle (Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture)

Crowned as one of Japan’s most magnificent castles, Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its elegant architecture and surrounding cherry blossoms.  

Set against a backdrop of towering walls and majestic towers, over 1,0000 cherry trees burst into bloom on the castle grounds, creating a scene of unparalleled grandeur and beauty. 

You can explore the castle grounds, ascend to the top of the main keep for panoramic views, and marvel at the enchanting sakura spectacle below. 

Best time to visit: late March to mid-April 

5. Matsumae Park (Matsumae, Hokkaido) 

Venturing north to the island of Hokkaido, cherry blossom enthusiasts will discover the captivating beauty of Matsumae Park with over 10,000 cherry trees of 250 varieties.  

As one of the northernmost cherry blossom destinations in Japan, Matsumae Park offers a unique opportunity to witness sakura against the backdrop of Hokkaido’s rugged landscapes. With so many different varieties of sakura, visitors can enjoy the cherry blossom for almost a full month as each variety blooms at different times in the spring.   

Here, you can meander through cherry tree-lined pathways, take a tour of Matsumae Castle, examine the ruins in the surrounding area, enjoy scenic vistas of the surrounding mountains and sea, and experience the magic of spring in Japan’s northern frontier. 

Best time to visit: late April to mid-May


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6. Arashiyama (Kyoto) 

Renowned for its enchanting bamboo groves and scenic vistas, Arashiyama also captivates visitors with its cherry blossoms.  

Along the banks of the Katsura River, cherry trees burst into bloom, casting a soft pink hue over the tranquil waters below.  

You can also check out the famous bamboo groves, visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park, home to over 120 Japanese macaque monkeys, or take a boat ride on the river, enveloped in the delicate beauty of the spring bloom.  

Best time to visit: late March to early April 

7. Kenrokuen (Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture) 

One lesser-known (yet no less spectacular) spot to witness the cherry blossom blooming is in a beautiful Japanese garden, Kenrokuen, in Kanazawa.  

Considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens, Kenrokuen is a meticulous and spacious garden that’s perfect to visit for every season because of the variety of trees and plants growing there.  

There are several ways to enjoy the cherry blossoms in the garden – walking along the trails in the garden, relaxing in the teahouses while enjoying the view, or strolling the walkway between Katsurazaka Gate and Renchimon Gate lined with shops, restaurants and of course, cherry trees.  

Best time to visit: early April