Cherry blossoms in Japan – A simple guide to where, when and what you need to know

Cherry blossoms in Japan – Spring seduction

A simple guide to where, when and what you need to know

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 seductive softness, sparkly white pink colours of spring is found in various locations throughout Japan.

Japan | when to visit

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.

Learn more about the Best Time to Visit Japan from this detailed guide.


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?

Where and 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 2019 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 2020. I have also included the Cherry Blossom dates predicted by Japan Rail as they offer discounted rail fares when travelling to these destinations using Japan Rail Pass. You can use both of these guides to plan your hanami vacation to Japan for 2021 and beyond as well. .

Take a look at the following cities and the dates when the cherry blossoms bloomed last year.

city flowering date full bloom date
Data from Japan Meteorological Corporation

Kochi will be the first place in Japan to flower on March 18th, and Kyushu is expected to be the next. In Tokyo, flowering will start from March 22nd, 4 days earlier than normal years, and full bloom is expected around 29th. Compared with the flowering date (March 17th) of the last year, 5-day delay is very likely.

Check : Japan Meteorological Corporation for latest predictions and dates

2020 Cherry Blossoms in Japan – Dates

Info courtesy from Japan Rail Pass

Japan Cherry Blossom Season 2020

Recommendations on Where to experience the best cherry blossoms in Japan

The above charts provide 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

Philosopher's Path in Kyoto begins with a stone path in pleasant surroundings.
Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto begins with a stone path in pleasant surroundings | ©mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

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.

Cherry blossom trees lined along a canal in Philosopher's Path, Kyoto
Cherry blossoms at Philisopher’s Path, Kyoto | ©mytimelessfootsteps | Image by Georgina_Daniel

In addition, Philosopher’s Path is close to other historic sites such as the Heian Shrine and the Golden Pavilion. 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.

Learn more on Kyoto and places to visit in and around the city of Kyoto by navigating via the image below.

Complete Kyoto Guide

Himeji Castle, Himeji

Himeji Castle, Himeji, Japan
Himeji Castle during the cherry blossoms season

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.

To experience hanami or for a visit to Himeji Castle, navigate to “Ultimate 1 day guide to Himeji” that has all the information you may need for your visit.

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 . You could purchase your Japan Rail Pass by clicking the link below. 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.

Buy Japan Rail Pass to suit your vacation

Planning your trip and Where will you 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. There are 25 reasons why planning is crucial for a stress-free vacation. To book your flight, go to this page, do a quick search and see what comes up for you. The earlier the better.

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.

Best and beautiful places to stay in Kyoto

Experience comfort and luxury in the heart of Kyoto

Four Season Hotel, Kyoto
Four Seasons Hotel | Kyoto | Image credit to Booking

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto boasts a sushi bar and a tea house by a pond in Shakusuien Japanese garden as well as a Western-style restaurant and a lounge. Kyoto Station is a 7-minute drive away. Free WiFi is provided throughout the hotel.

Learn more & Book your stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, Kyoto
RIHGA Royal Hotel | Kyoto
RIHGA Royal Hotel | Kyoto | Image credit to Booking

Conveniently located a 7-minute walk from JR Kyoto Train Station, Renovated in 2016, RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto features 8 restaurants. Free WiFi is provided throughout the property. 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.

Learn more & Book your stay at the RIHGA Royal Hotel, Kyoto

Experience a stay at a traditional Japanese Inn – a Ryokan

Gion Hatanaka | Kyoto | Image credit to Booking

Just a short stroll from the picturesque Gion district, Gion Hatanaka features traditional Japanese accommodation and a spacious public bath overlooking a zen garden. Free WiFi is available. The property offers in-room Japanese kaiseki multi-course dinner with seasonal local dishes including fresh seafood. The ryokan is a 5-minute walk from Yasaka Shrine and a 10-minute walk from Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Kyoto Station is a 15-minute drive away. Kawaramachi Train Station is a 10-minute walk.

Learn more and book your stay at Gion Hatanaka, Kyoto
Toshiharu Ryokan | Kyoto | Image credit to Booking

Built in the Meiji era and registered as a cultural asset, Toshiharu Ryokan offers traditional accommodation just a 3-minute walk from Gojo Station and 1 subway stop from JR Kyoto Train Station. Massages are available. Guests at Ryokan Toshiharu sleep in Japanese futon bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor, and have air conditioning and an LCD TV. Green tea and a Yukata robe are provided, and some rooms look out on a small garden.

Learn more and book your stay at Toshiharu Ryokan, Kyoto

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.

My final say…

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.

To support your travel planning, follow my 6 steps to booking your trip and for a stress free vacation. Read also and stay informed as regards travel insurance and resources available to make the best of your vacation.

6 steps to stress free vacation

Is this post valuable to you in planning your visits for cherry blossoms in Japan? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Scroll all the way down for more ideas and inspiring travel stories. Subscribe to join us at Timeless Travel Steps to receive all the latest news and events.

Have a splendid time experiencing hanami.

Georgina xx

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Cherry blossom season in Japan - A simple guide to where, when and what you need to know when planning your Hanami vacation. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Cherry blossom season in Japan - A simple guide to where, when and what you need to know when planning your Hanami vacation. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/