CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN JAPAN
The season of cherry blossoms in Japan is mesmerising, seductive and captivating. One can sit under the cherry blossom trees and watch the day go by without a care in the world! The sea of gentle soft, sparkly white pink colours of spring is found in various locations throughout Japan.
March is a popular time to visit Japan as the weather is mild and the onset of the cherry blossom season draws many visitors to these various locations. By mid-march, you can see the budding blooms on the trees, signalling the beginning of the Hanami season.
Hanami is the tradition of viewing and appreciating the beauty of the cherry blossoms (sakuras). Hanami has long been adored by locals as well as people across the globe as it is regarded as a symbol of renewal, vitality, and beauty.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VIEW THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN JAPAN
The best time to view cherry blossoms is in late March to early April. During this time, you will be able to catch the cherry blossoms at their best. If you are planning a trip during Hanami, please dedicate some time to planning your travels. The sakuras are in full bloom for only 2 to 3 weeks in Spring, between 20th March and 14th April, so you don’t really see them in full-bloom for a full month. Cherries peak at different times and are very weather dependent but they generally peak on 1st April. Milder climate in the southern region means first blooms are produced in places like Okinawa, and blooming progresses northward. Wind, rain, and temperature can cause the blossoms to appear either earlier or later than average and can lengthen or shorten the blooming season.
If you are planning a trip to experience the hanami, then you need to consider the following three important aspects:
Three important considerations when planning a visit to Japan to see the cherry blossoms
Where will you be going to for the Hanami;
When will you be going.
Where would you stay?
WHEN TO SEE THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN JAPAN
The following chart, taken from Japan Meteorological Corporation gives the average bloom dates for the hanami in 2023 and Where you can experience it. Knowing the dates when cherry blossoms bloom in specific locations aids travel planning if you are aiming to visit Japan during the hanami season. This chart provides a rough guide to the hanami season for 2023.
Take a look at the following cities and the dates when the cherry blossoms bloomed last year.
Tokyo: Flowering: March 14 / Full bloom: March 21;
Sapporo: Flowering: April 25 / Full bloom: April 28;
Sendai: Flowering: March 28 / Full bloom: April 2;
Kanazawa: Flowering: March 24 / Full bloom: March 30;
Nagoya: Flowering: March 17 / Full bloom: March 27;
Kyoto: Flowering: March 19 / Full bloom: March 27;
Osaka: Flowering: March 21 / Full bloom: March 28;
Hiroshima: Flowering: March 21 / Full bloom: March 28;
Fukuoka Flowering: March 18 / Full bloom: March 26.
Check : Japan Meteorological Corporation for latest predictions and dates
WHERE TO EXPERIENCE THE BEST CHERRY BLOSSOM
The above chart provides a good guide to destinations as well as when to visit them. As mentioned earlier, most flowers usually take a week to reach full bloom once flowering has begun and that full bloom also lasts around a week. With this in mind, you may wish to travel between the many locations to experience a variety of features. Having said that, there are a couple of places you would want to visit as these affords unmissable experiences.
Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto
The Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto is one of the most beautiful spots to experience the hanami. It is located in the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The stone path runs along a canal, lined with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. The walk takes about thirty-minutes to complete. It is highly recommended that your visit include this destinations.
In addition, Philosopher’s Path is close to other historic sites such as the Heian Shrine, the Golden Pavilion as well as the city’s historic flea markets. In fact Kyoto is a city popularly visited because of other best of the beaten paths and you wouldn’t want to miss those as well. Go here to my page about Kyoto which has all the information you’ll need for a timeless visit to this historic city.
Himeji Castle, Himeji
A visit to Japan and you will be enchanted with all the castles you shall see. Each has a story and a historical significance. One such castle that is both enchanting and captivating is Himeji Castle. It sits on a hill, and carries a nickname “Hakuro-jo” which means White Egret Castle. It’s white facade sending glimmers into the distance. During Hanami, the cherry blossoms are ever more inviting. There are so many cherry blossom trees in the castle grounds. Gazing up into the canopy of pink and white petals, the sun breaks through the cracks, bringing a sense of calmness and enriched air. It is quite an experience – one that is highly recommended. It is also a perfect spot for picnics.
This guide has all the information about a day trip to Himeji from Kyoto with lots of experienced tips which youmay like.
Other locations and Japan Rail Pass
There are many other prime locations with a variety of features such as oldest trees or most trees. Historical and Heritage Sites such as Nara are also places that top the list when it comes to hanami. You can quickly and easily travel between the many locations in Japan by train using your Japan Rail Pass . There are choices and you could select anything from 7, 14 or 21 days travel and have it delivered to your home address before you embark on your journey. Here, you can purchase your Japan Rail Pass.
WHERE TO STAY DURING THE HANAMI SEASON
Planning a trip to Japan during the hanami season could be an expensive occasion for the simple reason being that it is a popular time for tourists to visit Japan. Flights can be really expensive if you leave it too late. If you want to get the best deals, book your flight early. The earlier the better.
Top Places to Stay in Kyoto
As to Where to stay, it all depends on where you would like to go to experience hanami. If you are planning on experiencing hanami in Kyoto, then staying in and around Kyoto is ideal. However, the downside is the costs but you can always find a good deal when you book reasonably well in advance. Here are some selection of the best and beautiful places to stay in Kyoto for you.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL, KYOTO
The Four Seasons Hotel is a really nice place to stay in Kyoto. It has a lovely sushi bar and a tea house by a pond in its beautiful Japanese garden. The hotel offers a Western-style restaurant and a lounge in addition to many other modern amenities. Kyoto Station is a 7-minute drive away. Free WiFi is provided throughout the hotel.
RIHGA ROYAL HOTEL KYOTO
The Rihga is conveniently located to JR Kyoto Station and tourists’ favourite historic sites which makes this property highly sought after. Complimentary shuttle runs between the hotel and JR Kyoto Station. The hotel is only a 5-minute walk from Nishi Hongan-ji Temple. Higashi Hongan-ji Temple and To-ji Temple are within a 20-minute walk. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is a 5-minute train ride, while Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji temples can be reached within a 30-minute bus ride.
Experience a stay at a traditional Japanese Inn, a Ryokan. Here are the two best traditional inns in Kyoto.
TOSHIHARU RYOKAN, KYOTO
Built in the Meiji era and registered as a cultural asset, Toshiharu Ryokan offers traditional accommodation where guests can sleep in Japanese futon bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor. Located just a 3-minute walk from Gojo Station and 1 subway stop from JR Kyoto Train Station. Green tea and a Yukata robe are provided, and some rooms look out on a small garden.
Accommodation during the Hanami is typically expensive. Leaving it closer to the time you travel also means you may have have to pay a premium for last minute accommodation, which at times may not be the choice or quality usually associated to the price you pay. You can easily do a check as early as possible for suitable accommodation to the city you are travelling to and lock the price. Click the link below and book your hotel. Book here for accommodations in Kyoto , Osaka, Tokyo, Kobe, and Okinawa city.
Japan is an amazing country to visit at any time of the year but there are seasons when it is exceptionally busy. You can have a great experience if you plan well in advance so you can secure the best deals on flights and hotels. Take into consideration the above dates when you are making your vacation arrangements.
Have a splendid time experiencing hanami.
Before you go, take a look at the following articles about Japan. It has lots ot information, suggestions, and experienced tips which you may like.
General Japan articles
Kyoto specific articles
Day Trip articles
Hiroshima specific articles
BASICS FOR KYOTO, JAPAN