10 Wonderful Spots to See Japan’s Cherry Blossoms This Spring 2017

  • SPOT
  • It’s a new year for a new hanami (花見 – flower viewing) experience!

    Year after year, tourists from all around the world specifically plan their Japan trips around the spring season to get a glimpse of the cherry blossoms’ surreal pink petals blooming in their full glory. It’s one of the country’s fleeting beauties that only appears at a limited and specific time of the year.

    If you don’t know where to go, you might miss the opportunity to bask in the best scene these sakura trees have to offer! In fact, some cherry blossoms in the southern part of Japan have already started to bloom!

    So if you’re heading to the Land of the Rising Sun this spring 2017, might as well drop by the best cities and prefectures where you could savor the sight of sakura in its full beauty! We’ll look at 10 forecasts starting from the southern part of the country going all the way up to the best northern spots!

    1. Okinawa (沖縄)

    Estimated average first bloom: Mid-January
    Estimated average full bloom: 2nd week of February

    Suggested viewing spots: Yogi Park (与儀公園), Nakijin Castle (今帰仁城跡)

    Okinawa is in the southernmost part of Japan and enjoys a warmer climate compared to the rest of the country. Cherry blossoms in this area also bloom earlier primarily because of its location.

    When visiting the place for hanami, take a quick detour and visit the following: Katsuren Castle Ruins (勝連城跡), Shikinaen (識名園), Makishi Public Market (牧志公設市場), Miyako Island (宮古島), Ufuya (大家), and Cape Manza (万座毛).


    2. Fukuoka (福岡)

    Estimated average first bloom: March 25
    Estimated average full bloom: April 2 to 10

    Suggested viewing spots: Fukuoka Castle (福岡城), Atago Shrine (愛宕神社)

    Fukuoka is Japan’s 6th largest city and is widely known for its beautiful castle ruins, beaches, and trendy shopping malls. People who want to enjoy an active nightlife and visit cultural museums will find this city a precious location. It is geographically close to China and Korea, which may have been a major factor for the visible influence of the two countries on the city’s lifestyle.

    While you’re in the city, you can explore other gorgeous spots like Kyushu National Museum (九州国立博物館), Robosquare (ロボスクエア), Gokoku Shrine (護国神社), Tochoji Temple (東長寺), and ACROS Fukuoka (アクロス福岡).


    3. Osaka (大阪)

    Estimated average first bloom: March 29
    Estimated average full bloom: April 4 to 12

    Suggested viewing spots: Osaka Castle Park (大阪城公園), Kema Sakuranomiya Park (毛馬桜ノ宮公園)

    Tagged as the “Kitchen of Japan,” Osaka is widely known for the variety of mouth-watering cuisines it offers both to its national and foreign guests. It is said that the area along the Osaka Castle is the best for hanami in April, so if you’re visiting Japan within this month, might as well head over to this city.

    Other places to enjoy in Osaka are the Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル), Osaka Museum of Housing and Living (大阪暮らしの今昔館), Kuromon Ichiba Market (黒門市場), and SpaWorld (スパワールド).


    4. Nara (奈良)

    Estimated average first bloom: March 28
    Estimated average full bloom: April 3 to 11

    Suggested viewing spots: Nara Park (奈良公園), Heijo Palace (平城宮)

    Nara is Japan’s oldest capital and is home to lots of ancient shrines and roads that are no longer accessible by public transport. If you love adventure and don’t mind exploring on foot, this place is a good way to satiate your travel cravings. With its beautiful surrounding mountaintops, nature lovers will definitely find this place worth a visit!

    Be sure to check out the following spots while you’re there: Todaiji (東大寺), Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest (春日山原始林), Nara Health Land (奈良健康ランド), and Isuien Garden (依水園).


    5. Hiroshima (広島)

    Estimated average first bloom: March 29
    Estimated average full bloom: April 4 to 12

    Suggested viewing spots: Shukkein Garden (縮景園), Hiroshima Castle (広島城)

    Widely known for its historical significance during World War II, this place attracts tourists and locals alike who harbor a special interest in history and culture. Over the years, this city has managed to rebuild itself and now houses some of the most fascinating historical sites of Japan.

    While planning your hanami experience, might as well take the time to tour around the area and visit the Atomic Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム) and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (平和記念資料館).


    6. Kyoto (京都)

    Estimated average first bloom: March 29
    Estimated average full bloom: April 4 to 12

    Suggested viewing spots: Philosopher’s Path (哲学の道), Heian Shrine (平安京)

    Kyoto is popular for its symbolic places as well as many of the best temples from ancient Japan. It’s considered as the country’s ancient capital and is perfect for tourists who love to experience traditional Japan.

    Some of its must-see attractions are Shouren-in’s Illumination (青蓮院), Ishibe Alley (石塀小路), Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷神社), Nishiki Market (錦市場), and the tea house at Mt. Yoshida’s (吉田山) summit.


    7. Tokyo (東京)

    Estimated average first bloom: March 26
    Estimated average full bloom: April 2 to 11

    Suggested viewing spots: Ueno Park (上野公園), Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (新宿御苑), Yoyogi Park (代々木公園)

    Ah, yes, Tokyo. Japan’s capital and the hub for all innovative and trendy things the country has opened up to the whole world. Other than its active and busy lifestyle, Tokyo also prides itself on some astounding hanami spots (as mentioned above) that will literally leave you in awe.

    Don’t miss Tokyo’s other points of interest such as Oedo Onsen Monogatari (大江戸温泉物語), Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場), Akihabara (秋葉原), Rikugien (六義園), Akasaka (赤坂) ninja restaurant, Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館), and Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー).


    8. Fukushima (福島)


    Estimated average first bloom: April 7
    Estimated average full bloom: April 10 to 18

    Suggested viewing spots: Hanamiyama Park (花見山公園), Shinobuyama Park (信夫山公園)

    Fukushima Prefecture is tagged as one of Japan’s “Kingdoms of Fruits” and has a rich harvest throughout the year. Contrary to what many speculate about it being dangerous following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, 90% of the area is now actually safe for tourists.

    Explore a number of its stunning sceneries starting with Oze National Park (尾瀬国立公園), Bandai (磐梯), Mt. Azuma (吾妻山), Takayu Onsen (高湯温泉), and Hanamiyama (花見山).


    9. Aomori (青森)

    Estimated average first bloom: April 22
    Estimated average full bloom: April 26 to May 4

    Suggested viewing spots: Hirosaki Castle (弘前城), Ashino Chishogun Prefectural Natural Park (芦野公園)

    If you’re a sucker for nature and love to bathe in the presence of all things natural, then Aomori is a dream come true.

    Other things that you can enjoy in this place include Nebuta Warasse (ねぶたの家ワ・ラッセ), ASPAM Observation Deck (観光物産館アスパム), Hakkoda Mountains (八甲田山系), Asamushi Aquarium (浅虫水族館), Seiryu-ji Temple (青龍寺), and more!


    10. Hokkaido (北海道)

    Estimated average first bloom: April 29
    Estimated average full bloom: May 5

    Suggested viewing spots: Hakodate’s Goryokaku (函館五稜郭), Matsumae Castle (松前城), Odori Park (大通公園)

    Being Japan’s largest prefecture, you’ll have lots of extra things to enjoy while on your stay in Hokkaido. Aside from its vast natural beauty, you’ll also find their seafood delicacies extremely delightful.

    Points of interest to look for in this area include the Rusutsu Resort (ルスツリゾート), Hakodate Morning Market (函館朝市), Furano’s (富良野) lavender fields, Unkai Terrace (雲海), Shakotan Peninsula (積丹半島), and more!


    Make the Most Out of Your Hanami Experience

    Taking photos of sakura trees in full bloom might be your planned highlight for your trip, but there’s a whole lot more of exciting and memorable things to do while you’re at it.

    If you’re visiting with friends, a great way to enjoy the cherry blossom viewing would be to join the rest of the Japanese community in celebrating the festival with traditional food, drinks, and at some designated spots, musical presentations.

    Easy-to-prepare food that you can include in your picnic include:

    • dumplings
    • barbecue
    • onigiri
    • tonkatsu
    • fried fish
    • typical bento boxes
    • sake

    The more people who’re joining you in the festival, the merrier. Of course, you will need to prepare more food, too!

    Helpful Tips for a Memorable Hanami Experience

    Reserve a spot in advance or come early

    The best hanami locations don’t have the same space availability. Some can cater to a larger group of people, while others have specific limitations. To ensure that you don’t run out of space for your picnic mat, it’s best to contact the area administrator for a reservation. There are some locations that implement the first-come, first-served basis so better come early.

    Pack all the necessities ahead of time

    While you can simply drop by shops and convenience stores on your way to the hanami location, it will save you a lot of hassle to secure the items you’ll need beforehand. If you’re planning to prepare homemade food, then you may want to do the cooking the night before the event so you can easily heat it up in the morning and maybe prepare some last-minute delicacy you want to add to your pack.

    Remember that there might be a lot of people who will go last-minute shopping, too! Save yourself the trouble and come to the location prepared.

    It’s not yet too late to adjust your schedule and give way to some of the best hanami spots in Japan this 2017! Choose the location you prefer to visit and don’t miss this year’s beautiful cherry blossom festivities!

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