The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan

The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan

For just a few weeks each year, Japan’s parks, pathways and mountainsides are transformed by the blossoming of 'sakura' (cherry trees). 'Sakura' have a deep cultural significance in Japan, symbolising not only the arrival of spring, but also beauty, good luck, new beginnings and the value of life, which is precious and impermanent. Cherry blossom season, which generally runs from late March to mid-April, is marked by celebrations, ceremonies and the arrival of various 'sakura'-themed delicacies in shops and restaurants. Unsurprisingly, this is the most popular time of the year to visit Japan, so booking well in advance is essential if you’ve set your heart on seeing this spectacular natural sight. Although the peak of 'sakura' blossoming can’t always be predicted, blossom forecasts will help you to plan your trip for the right time of year depending on where you choose to go. And if you’re still on the hunt the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan, that’s where we come in.


  1. Yoshinoyama
  2. Lake Kawaguchiko
  3. Kyoto Botanical Garden
  4. Kinosaki Onsen
  5. Kumamoto Castle



We can’t write a list of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan without a mention of Yoshinoyama (Mount Yoshino). This north-facing mountain slope is one of the country’s most famous spots for appreciating the beauty of cherry blossom season, carpeted with 30,000 cherry trees that bloom at different times due to the varying elevation. The Yoshino Ropeway is the easiest way to make your way up the mountainside from its base, but you might find yourself stuck in long queues during peak season. For a quieter route, ascend on foot via the scenic road that leads up to the town. Don’t miss the view from the Yoshimizu-jinja shrine, one of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed shrines in the Kii Mountains that’s located in the central area of Yoshinoyama. From here, take in the clusters of pink, green and gold undulating across the mountainside, an enchanting vista that seems more like Monet painting than real life. It’s said that when at Yoshimizu-jinja, you’re able to take in a thousand cherry trees at a glance.


Lake Kawaguchiko

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most iconic symbols. At Lake Kawaguchiko, its rippling reflection is framed by the rosy petals of the cherry trees that line the shore, making this one of the most popular spots in the Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lakes) region during cherry blossom season. Head to the lake’s northern or eastern shore and wander the shady walkways as you look out at the mountain’s snow-capped peak emerging from behind the water. If you’d prefer a more elevated view of the sakura, head to the Chureito Pagoda and look out across a sea of pink treetops towards Mount Fuji. The blossoms here are at their peak in early- to mid-April.


Kyoto Botanical Garden

Easy to reach from Kitayama Station, this beautiful botanical garden is the perfect place to experience the centuries-old custom of hanami: coming together to celebrate and admire cherry blossoms. Hanami literally means ‘flower viewing’, and with this comes picnics under the trees as blossom leaves dance in the wind, and tucking into local delicacies until darkness falls. In the day, Kyoto Botanical Garden is a beautiful green space in which to enjoy the beauty of around 500 blossom trees, including its famous weeping cherry tree; at night, you can experience yozakura: the enchanting glow of cherry blossoms lit up at night, best enjoyed while sipping on some sake. The blossoms at Kyoto Botanical Garden are late blooming, making this one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan if you’re visiting in April, when the season is coming to its end in the city. Remember to bring a jacket if you’re staying to enjoy yozakura, as spring evenings can get chilly, and don’t forget to pack your picnic blanket. Entry to the park is 200 yen (£1.20), and the trees are illuminated until 9pm.


Kinosaki Onsen

If you thought lounging in the dappled shade of a pretty pink cherry tree couldn’t get any better, picture yourself doing so in the steaming mineral waters of a Japanese hot spring, otherwise known as onsen. These naturally occurring pools exist throughout the country, but Kinosaki Onsen allows you to experience the ritual of Japanese bathing while also taking in the sight of the country’s iconic cherry blossoms. In late March or early April, blossoming trees line the waterways that weave through the streets of this charming resort town, where you’ll also find traditional ryokans and vintage arcades. One thing to note is that Japanese bathing comes with its own set of rules and customs that you should acquaint yourself with before diving in headfirst. Once you’ve got to grips with the basics, however, all that’s left to do is sit back and relax in the many pools of this pretty old town.  


Kumamoto Castle

Located on one of Japan’s main (and most underrated) islands, Kyushu, this is one of the region’s most famous sakura spots. Kumamoto Castle is one of Japan’s finest examples of traditional castle architecture – at its prime, it had 49 turrets and 47 gates. While it’s an impressive structure at any time of year, the castle’s greyscale façade looks particularly striking when contrasted with the snowy pink hues of the area’s many cherry trees. Sadly, parts of this magnificent 17th-century structure were destroyed in an earthquake in 2016, so some areas have yet to reopen to the public. Even from the outside, however, this is a historic place to experience sakura season while also taking in one of Japan’s architectural masterpieces.