Many people who wish to visit Japan want to see the iconic cherry blossom. Sometimes life doesn’t all go to plan and maybe you can’t travel in the main cherry blossom season. Don’t despair, there are still a few spots you can visit for some early blooms and to experience hanami!
Usually, the cherry blossom season starts in the southern ends of Japan in March and moves all the way up to the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido in May. Most of the cherry blossoms come into full bloom in April and in many of the most popular hanami spots, this is the case. If you aren’t sure what hanami is, it is the past time of social gatherings beneath the delicate blooms and has been a Japanese habit for hundreds of years. Many main tourists spots for cherry blossoms have festivals, put out food stalls and specific places for people to sit and be merry!
Since the cherry blossom front usually moves up from the south to the north, you may not expect that some of the earliest blooms are just 2 hours outside of Tokyo! The Izu peninsula is a spit of land jutting out from Honshu just south of Tokyo. This place is very famous for hot springs and natural onsen, so is a great tourist draw. For early cherry blossoms, this is one of the best places!
Fifty years ago, a variety of cherry blossoms were discovered which bloomed early and lasted longer than other trees! Since that discovery, around 4km of trees were planted along the Kawazu river up to the Kawazu Seven Waterfall. It is easy to access for a day trip, or if you book ahead a great place to stay and have a relaxing onsen. The cherry blossom festival here usually lasts around a month and varies from year to year. In 2018, the festival started on the 10th of February and extends until March 10th. If you are quick you can catch these beautiful blooms too. And as an added bonus, bright yellow flowers bloom beneath the pale pink at the same time, making for a truly unique sakura experience.
Take a day trip to the historic and volcanic Izu peninsula and catch some of Japan’s most famous flowers. You can even take a tour to see the early sakura in Kawazu! Happy early hanami!