Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom. Every year between March and May the fruit trees bloom, creating a magical, colourful spectacle across the country. Blossom season has become more famous outside of Japan in the past years. Through social media, many colourful pictures are posted making the rest of the world aware of this phenomenon. But there is an optimal time to see the blossom.

Mount Fuji
Blossom at Mount Fuji. Midori

The famous blossom is a combination of different fruit trees blooming during spring. This results in different colours of flowers, such as white, red, but also apricot and plum.

Best video cherry blossom in Japan

When do the trees blossom?

Spring starts in March and ends in May. During this period the fruit trees will bloom. The start of the blossom season depends on the weather conditions of the winter period. Temperature, wind, rainfall, snowfall all have a strong influence on the process of the season.

As Sakura is getting more famous across the globe, it also means more tourist travel to Japan to experience this colourful phenomenon. So it is wise to plan your trip in advance. If only to be sure you have a hotel room to sleep in.

10 best places to see the Sakura:

1. Goryokaku Fort Park in Hakodate, on the island of Hokkaido

The plum and cherry trees bloom almost at the same time here. Goryokaku is famous for its Hokkaido fortress, one of the biggest fortresses in Japan. There are plenty of fruit trees around the fortress, which bloom every year.

Best time: late April to early May.

2. Ueno-Park, Tokyo

One of the famous parks in Tokyo is Ueno Park, where many activities are organised around the Sakura. There are approximately 1,200 cherry trees in the park, resulting in spectacular sights when they blossom. There is also a zoo and Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park. This park gets the busiest of all of Japan in cherry blossom season, so be warned. A good alternative is to go to Shinjuku Gyoen Park in Tokyo.

Best time: late March to the end of April.

3. Maruyama Park, Arashiyama and The Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Maruyama Park is the largest park in Kyoto. The rather big cherry trees in the park are lit up during the night, giving it a whole different dimension. The famous Philosopher’s Walk is the route from the Ginkaku-ji Temple to the Wakaoji-jinja Shrine where you walk through the blossoming trees.

Best time: late March to the end of April.

4. Mount Yoshino, Nara

Mount Yoshino is famous for its hills with cherry blossom mixed with other trees. In total there are over 30,0000 cherry trees, reaching from the bottom of the hill (for instance at Shimo-senbon) up to the top of the hills (at oku-senbon). It is a great place to stroll through the hills and enjoy the Sakura. Keep an eye out, you could meet some deer here…

Best time: the whole month of April.

5. Japan Mint, Osaka

Japan Mint is the area alongside the old Odo river in Osaka. Many blossom trees grow here, resulting in a colourful explosion.

Best time: mid – to late April.

6. Hirosaki Castle Park, Hirosaki

Hirosaki Castle Park in Hirosaki is a great place to see both Japanese architecture and the famous blossom. It’s a great park for strolling around and soaking in these two icons of Japan. There are over 2,600 trees, some of which are over 200 years old.

Best time: late April to the end of May.

7. Kakunodate, Akita

The old Samuari houses in Kakunodate are the perfect punctuation in the blossom scenery. There are ‘only’ 150 trees here, nonetheless a picture-perfect…

Best time: late April to the end end of May.

8. Nagoya Castle, Aichi

The Nagoya Castle in Aichi is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. Especially during Sakura, the castle is surrounded by colourful, blossoming trees.

Best time: late March to the end of April.

9. Inokashira Park, Tokyo

If you want to avoid the busy Ueno Park, the Inokashira Park is good alternative to see the cherry blossom. You can also rent a boat and paddle along the blossoming trees.

Best time: late March to late April.

10. Daigo-Ji Temple, Kyoto

Many travellers think the walk from the Daigo-Ji Temple in Kyoto to the top of the hill is the most beautiful one during the cherry blossom. Besides an island full of trees in bloom, there is a nice waterfall.

Best time: late March to the end of April.

There are many locations where you can see the trees in full blossom. At the foot of Mount Fuji is also a famous spot. But if you travel through the country will see an abundance of them.

Cherry blossom from above. Danilo Dungo