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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogSakura Tree: The Best Guide! When, Where, and Why?

Sakura Tree: The Best Guide! When, Where, and Why?

Karina IkedoKarina Ikedo
Published Time
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January 31, 2023
A picture of a sakura tree near the water during the day.

The sakura tree is famous during Japan’s sakura (cherry blossom) season. As full blooms only last for about a week before the petals fall, cherry blossoms symbolize the fragility of life in Japanese culture.

Cherry blossoms have unquestionably become a must-visit tourist attraction in Japan. The stunning cherry blossoms draw millions of foreign visitors to the country in the spring. Keep reading as we guide you through everything you need to know about sakura trees!

When is Sakura Tree Season?

The cherry blossom season in Japan varies each year because of changes in weather and climate. It usually starts in the spring in the southern to northern areas of Japan. There are also different types of sakura, each of which blooms at a specific time.

A picture of multiple sakura trees. They are all pink
Cherry blossoms are beautiful! Image via Shutterstock

The first blooms usually appear in tropical Okinawa in January, while ones typically bloom in early May on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. The end of March to the beginning of April is a good bet for peak pink in the main tourist areas in Japan.

Best Spots to see the Sakura Tree in Japan

With sakura blooming in more than 1,000 locations across Japan, you won’t have trouble finding a place to participate in the custom of hanami (flower watching). Here are some of Japan’s best sakura spots!

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Fuji Five Lakes, Chubu

These beautiful lakes make a lovely location for hanami and form an arc at the base of Mount Fuji. Spending the day in an onsen (hot spring) and relaxing in the warm waters while admiring the blooms is a common way to enjoy the season. 

A picture Fuji Five Lakes in the springtime. There are a lot of flowers.
The Fuji Five Lakes have covered in flowers during the spring! Image via Shutterstock

The resort town of Lake Kawaguchi is a great choice; get there early in the morning to see Mount Fuji framed by gorgeous blooms through the morning mist. The best time to visit is at the beginning of April.

Matsumae Park, Hokkaido

A picture of Matsumae Park in Hokkaido. There's a castle in the background.
Matsumae Park is home to over 10,000 cherry trees! Image via Shuterstock

Japan’s northernmost castle, located in Matsumae Park, is an excellent spot to view the sakura trees. A season-long display of 250 different types on 10,000 trees begins at the end of April, with wooden name tags claiming their moment in the spotlight. The castle is illuminated at night, which is quite magical.

Goryokaku Tower and Fort Goryokaku, Hakodate

A picture of Goryokaku Tower in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
Goryokaku Tower stands over so many cherry blossom trees! Image via Shutterstock

This tower is the first fortification structure in Japan designed in the French military style. It’s also shaped like a star. The nearby park is famous for its cherry blossoms. Goryokaku was recognized as a national particular historic site. You can also enjoy a fantastic view of the stunning Hokkaido cherry blossoms from the 107m-tall Goryokaku Tower, located close to the park.

Hirosaki Castle, Tohoku

A picture of Hirosaki Castle up in Tohoku, near cherry trees.
Hirosaki Castle has a moat covered in cherry blossom petals in the springtime! Image via Shutterstock

This historic castle is one of the country’s most picturesque locations for cherry blossom viewing. It has a fortified moat and a large park lined with trees and illuminated at night. Here, there are two different types of sakura trees, which means the blossoming season varies. Look to visiting in late April.

Kakunodate Bukeyashiki-dori, Akita

The historical streets from 390 years ago are still in the popular tourist destination of Kakunodate in the Akita Prefecture. In the area known as Bukeyashiki-dori, many samurai homes were built. 

A night time picture of an old samurai street in Akita prefecture among cherry trees.
Bukeyashiki Street is a national monument! Image via GLT GP.

Every year at the end of April, the streets are lined with pink blossoming sakura trees, contrasting beautifully with the black picket fences surrounding the samurai’s homes.

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Miharu Takizakura, Fukushima

An illuminated sakura tree called Miharu Takizakura in Fukushima.
This sakura tree looks like a waterfall, hence the name! Image via Shutterstock

One of Japan’s three most famous sakura trees, it draws countless tourists annually and is a national treasure. The big weeping sakura tree, over 1,000 years old, has a paved walking path in its surroundings.

Hitome Senbonzakura, Miyagi

A picture of a river near Hitome Senbonzakura. There are rows and rows of cherry trees along the enbankment.
Hitome Senbonzakura means “1000 cherry trees at a glance”. Image via Shutterstock

A “Hitome Senbonzakura” area is located along the Shiroishi River, which flows through the southern portion of Miyagi Prefecture. It has about eight kilometers of cherry blossom trees along its embankment. In addition to this gorgeous landscape, the majestic snowy Zao Mountains are in the background.

Meguro River, Tokyo

A night time picture of the sakura near Meguro River.
The Meguro River offers some of the best cherry blossom views in the city! Image via Shutterstock

Over 800 sakura trees surround the Meguro River, making it one of Japan’s most well-liked places to see cherry blossoms. There are various food vendors at the cherry blossom festival throughout the blossom season. There’s also an option to view breathtaking cherry blossom illumination at night. If you want to plan a sakura tree day in Tokyo, include this location!

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Tokyo

A picture of a sakura tree at Shinjuku Gyoen Park.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is home to many sakura trees and a botanical garden. Image via Shutterstock

These well-designed gardens are masterpieces of garden landscapes in Japan. It is a place where you can fully enjoy the scenery every season. In the spring, 1,000 cherry trees of 65 different species bloom.

Ueno Park, Tokyo

A picture of people in a swan boat at Ueno Park, among a big sakura tree.
Ueno Park is home to many museums. Image via Shutterstock

Ueno Park, one of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom viewing locations, has about 1,200 sakura trees. Nearly two million people visit the park for hanami each spring when the cherry blossoms bloom. When the bonbori (paper lanterns) are lit in the evening, the cherry blossoms look stunning as they appear in the soft illumination of the paper lanterns.

Osaka Castle, Osaka

Osaka Castle Park, located in the heart of the famous Osaka Castle, is well-known for its cherry blossom season. Approximately 3,000 sakura trees are on the park’s grounds. But the 300 sakura trees in Nishinomaru Garden are the most picturesque.

A picture of Osaka Castle, with a sakura tree nearby.
Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan! Image via Shutterstock

Check out the vast stone walls and moats beautifully colored by the cherry blossoms and observe the castle tower through the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Another recommended way to enjoy the sakura tree at this spot is to hop on the Osaka Castle gozabune (Japanese-style boat) that will take you around the castle’s moat in 20 minutes! The opportunity to see the beautiful castle, the stunning cherry blossoms, and the impressive stone walls all in one glimpse makes this season so unique.

Mt. Yoshino, Nara

One of Japan’s most well-known cherry blossom locations, Mt. Yoshino, has been a favorite of many authors and artists since ancient times. There are approximately 30,000 sakura trees of 200 varieties in the four areas of this mountain, comprised of Shimosenbon, Nakasenbon, Kamisenbon, and Okusenbon. 

An eagle's eye view of Mount Yoshino, which is covered in cherry blossoms.
Mount Yoshino is the namesake of the Yoshino cherry blossom! Image via Shutterstock

Because the four places bloom in order, beginning with the region at the foot of the mountains, visitors can enjoy the cherry blossoms here for extended periods. The Hanayagura viewpoint, which offers a fantastic view of Mt. Yoshino, is another place you should go if you want to see the entire mountain covered in pink, including the slopes and valleys.

Why Does Japan Love Sakura Tree Season?

Japan’s short-lived, delicate, pale pink cherry blossoms have come to symbolize the country. In fact, Japanese people are madly in love with cherry blossom viewing and everything it represents. 

People adore these gentle sakura tree blossoms because they wither and fall easily and quickly. This concept is mono no aware (bittersweet awareness of the impermanence of things). This way of thinking holds that we should cherish fleeting things rather than grieve them.

A picture of a cherry blossom tree *tunnel* the flowers are pink and the hedges are green.
The fallen sakura petals resemble pink carpets! Image via Shutterstock

The number and variety of cherry trees cultivated in Japan prove this love. When cherries bloom, people look up continually instead of down; salarymen who are typically in a rush stop in the middle of the street to take pictures.

Sakura viewing is one of the best ways to enjoy spring! Grace, elegance, fragility, and new life. The sakura has been the flower of the spring in Japan for these reasons. Make it a goal to witness the cherry blossoms at least once in Japan in the spring; they may help you better appreciate Japanese culture!

Have you been to Japan during the sakura tree season? What’s your favorite spot to view cherry blossoms in Japan? Let us know in the comments below!

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