Casting delicate pink hues across the land, the cherry blossom season, known as “Sakura” in Japan, has become so iconic that visitors from around the world travel far and wide to witness nature’s beautiful spectacle.
Hanami, a term given to enjoying the vivid cherry blossom displays, has become a significant part of Japanese culture. From vibrant festivals to picnics in the parks and zen gardens, celebrations beneath the Sakura take place each spring between March and April. Due to the sheer popularity of visiting Japan during the Sakura season, it’s best to book ahead and secure your place on one of our Japanese adventures for 2023.
Where are the best places to see the cherry blossom in Japan?
Although Sakura can be found in many locations in Japan, there are several places where the pink blooms are even more spectacular. Flourishing against backdrops of temples, shrines and zen gardens, these cherry blossom hotspots also provide great photo opportunities.
Stood beneath the gaze of soaring mountains, Arashiyama is filled with ornate shrines, temples and bamboo groves that dominate the skyline. In the springtime, the mountains are illuminated in a pink glow when the Sakura is in full bloom. On our Highlights of Japan trip, you’ll visit the Nonomiya Shrine and the Ryoan-ji and Kinkaku-ji temples as well as the famous Togetsukyo Bridge, one of the most famous sites for admiring the cherry blossom.
Nara Park, Nara
With approximately 1,700 cherry trees exploding in shades of pink every spring, Nara Park is one of Japan’s must-visit sites. Scenes of wild sika deer roaming the park and lounging below the Sakura is also a wonderful sight to behold. Our tour of Ancient and Modern Japan lets you explore the highlights of this ancient capital, including the UNESCO Toda-ji Great Buddha temple and the Kasuga Shinto Shrine. In stark contrast to the natural and ancient sites of Nara, you’ll also visit the Gion district of Kyoto, ride on a high-speed bullet train, and explore the bustling city streets of Tokyo.
Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa
No trip to Japan during the Sakura season is complete without a trip to Kenrokuen Garden where over 400 varieties of cherry blossom trees form a stunning pink canopy. The wooden flower-viewing bridge, known as hanami-bashi, presents an awe-inspiring photo opportunity as it overlooks the distant waterways and hills.
As well as visiting Kenrokuen Garden, our cycling tour of Japan takes you on a journey of Japanese discovery as you ride among the UNESCO village of Shirakawa-go and the tranquil countryside, discovering temples and zen gardens along the way.
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto Shrine, Kyoto
Famed for its tunnels of burnt orange torii gates that wind up to Mount Inari, the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto Shrine is a significant site that has been designated as an Important Cultural Property. Standing below branches laden with cherry blossom, there are five shrines that comprise the main building. Our tour of Japan’s Kumano Kodo introduces you to the mesmerising nature and traditions that sets the country apart from anywhere else. From witnessing the springtime blooms as you walk along the remote pilgrimage routes of Kumano Kodo and the Nakasendo Way to immersing yourself in the unique culture of Kyoto and Tokyo, this is a tour of impressive contrasts.
Haradani-En Garden, Kyoto
Between March and April, row upon row of radiant cherry blossom trees embrace the waterways, streets and temples of Kyoto, making it one of the most picturesque cities to visit during the spring. But tucked out of the way on a hilltop above Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Haradini-En Garden is a lesser-known spot for inhaling the sweet scents and vibrant colours of the cherry blossom. Nature lovers and avid photographers will be in their element here, capturing the pure essence of Sakura season.
On our Ancient and Modern Japan trip, you’re guided among zen gardens and shrines of Kyoto and Nara before heading to the cultural and futuristic city of Tokyo where you’re swept into its captivating chaos.
If this has inspired you to book an adventure to Japan during the Sakura season in 2023, why not browse our collection of holidays in Japan.