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20 Places In 2020 To Hanami In Style For The Cherry Blossom Season

Our top picks of where to experience visual poetry in spring.

Want to find the best places to witness the cherry blossom season in full effect? An endless array of petals floating through the wind like snowflakes in spring, covering the ground in a soft blanket of subtle pink? We've put together a list of 20 spots where you can experience one of the most quintessentially Japanese phenomenon to the max!

Some tips worth noting prior to your pursuit of Sakura:

  • Transport is an obvious necessity when chasing cherry blossoms across multiple locations. Spare yourself the efforts of ad hoc single trip tickets, and invest more time into actually enjoying the views! For inter-regional travel, consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass. If you're mainly going to be within Tokyo, then getting an ICOCA card or Tokyo Subway ticket is an absolute must for travelling within the city!
  • Shed your modern fashion and celebrate the season like a true local with a kimono!
  • Have a handy 4G SIM Card or 4G WiFi device by your side to stay connected with everyone back home - send beautiful sakura pictures and ignite the envy of friends and family!

TOKYO

1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

With roughly 1,000 cherry trees of various kinds, including early and late blooming cherry blossoms, this is one of the best hanami spots in Tokyo. Despite being located within the bustling heart of Japan's most metropolitan area, this national garden in Shinjuku offers a surprisingly peaceful respite for people to enjoy a relaxing walk or picnic (please note that alcohol consumption is prohibited here). During the cherry blossom season, the park is open everyday.

Conveniently situated near a number of dining, entertainment, and shopping options, this is a perfect starting point for those new to cherry blossom viewing and wishing to find an easily accessible location.

Access: Take the JR line to Shinjuku station and walk for 10 minutes.

Opening hours: Daily 9am to 4pm (gates close at 4:30pm)

Admission: JPY 200

2. Chidorigafuchi

This is widely considered as Tokyo's most scenic spot for aesthetic photo-taking, with over 1,000 trees blooming against the backdrop of the Imperial Palace. A 700 meter long footpath traverses this Chidorigafuchi, making it highly popular to visit in the evening when the blossoms are illuminated from underneath by LED lights, creating a kaleidoscope of colours within the area.

Access: Walk from Hanzomon (Exit 5) on the Hanzomon Line or Kudanshita on the Hanzomon, Shinjuku, and Tozai Lines.

Activities: Boats can be rented during the cherry blossom season, to accommodate more visitors in the area (and also to view the trees from the water!). JPY 800 fee applies for 30 minute rental, and JPY 1,600 for 1 hour rental. Boat availabilities run from 9am to 8:30 pm (last admission 8pm).

3. Koishi Korakuen Gardens

One of Tokyo's oldest and most famous gardens, you can find weeping cherry trees here that typically blossom before other areas. The gardens contains both Chinese and Japanese landscapes - man made hills, ponds and walking trails - but its most well-known feature is the pond at the centre of the garden called Daisensui, which provides a perfect mirror reflection of the trees lining its edge. Picnics are not allowed in the area, making it difficult to classify as a true hanami spot, however there is a teahouse nearby for visitors to enjoy matcha and wagashi sweets to evoke a feeling of traditional springtime Japan.

Access: Take the JR line to Iidabashi or Suidobashi, or the Metro to Korakuen station and it is an 8 minute walk away.

Opening hours: Daily 9am to 5pm (admission until 4:30pm)

Admission: JPY 300

4. Tokyo Tower

Again not a true hanami spot, but the ascent up Tokyo Tower provides the perfect vantage spot to see the city below covered in a sea of pink.

Access: 5 to 10 minute walk from Onarimon Station on the Mita Subway Line, Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Subway Line, or Kamiyacho on the Hibiya Subway Line

Opening hours: Daily 9am to 11pm (admission until 10:30pm)

Admission: JPY 1,200

5. Ueno Park

The roughly 800 trees in Ueno Park, one of the most popular sakura destinations in Tokyo since the 16th century, tend to bloom earlier than other areas, and encompasses a total area of 538,000 square meters. This park can get very crowded, so it's a common sight to see people spreading blue tarp on the ground to stake out the best spot to view the blossoms.

Given its popularity, Ueno Park typically opens very early in the mornings around dawn for visitors to claim their space - the best time to view the cherry blossoms however would be during the evening when the trees are lit up by lantern light, diffusing a soft coral-coloured glow to match the final rays of warm from the setting sun. Wearing a kimono will enhance the hanami experience even further.

For visitors who are feeling hungry after a full day of sightseeing and sakura viewing, the area is conveniently located from a multitude of restaurants and eateries.

Access: Walking distance from Ueno Station

Opening hours: Daily 5am to 11pm

6. Meguro River

The Meguro River is arguably one of Tokyo's most premium-feeling and picturesque cherry blossom viewing spots. The river itself meanders over a distance of 8km before emptying out into Tokyo Bay, and during spring-time approximately 1km of trees lining paths on both sides of the river burst into an explosion of intense pink.

This is a popular date spot, and whilst there are limited places to sit down for flower viewing, there is a variety of food stands stretched out along the length of the river, providing thematically sakura-coloured beverages and food where visitors can pause and enjoy their surroundings.

Access: 5 minute walk from JR Meguro station

YOKOHAMA

7. Yokohama Sea Paradise

Whilst this marine entertainment island is more known for consolidating the most unique features of the sea, islands, and living creatures into four aquariums, there are also around 700 cherry trees of multiple varieties located on the island. During the cherry blossom season, the route of the Sea Train is altered to take visitors across a square on the hill that houses these trees.

Access: 5 to 10 minute walk from Onarimon Station on the Mita Subway Line, Akabanebashi Station on the Oedo Subway Line, or Kamiyacho on the Hibiya Subway Line

Opening hours: 8:30am - 9:30pm (weekdays); 8:30am - 10:30pm (weekends)

Admission: Entrance to the island is free, day ticket to attractions costs JPY 4,680

8. Minato Mirai 21

An aesthetic fusion between the modern and the traditional, visitors can visit two areas to view beautiful cherry blossoms against a contrasting backdrop of Minato Mirai's modern skyscrapers. Sakura is a 500m-long street lined with cherry trees, stretching across the Minato Mirai 21 area, whilst Kishamichi Promenade is a boardwalk encompassing three bridges over the sea, formerly utilized as a railway track.

Access: Walking distance from Sakuragicho Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Negishi Line, or Minatomirai Station on the Minatomirai Line

Activities: The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is just a short riding distance away from Minatomirai Station - visitors who are staying in Yokohama for a day or longer can utilize a Yokohama Enjoy Pass to gain access to more attractions.

NAGANO

9. Matsumoto Castle

In spring, Matsumoto Castle is a popular cherry blossom spot. Many visit to stroll around the spacious castle grounds and park. Along the outer castle moat are hundreds of somei yoshino cherry trees that provide lovely views when they are in full bloom around mid April each year.

Access: The castle is a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride on the "Town Sneaker" Northern Course bus loop line from JR Matsumoto Station

KANAZAWA

10. Kanazawa Castle

The grounds of Kanazawa Castle are bejewelled with numerous cherry trees, which are particularly concentrated around Gyokuseninmaru Garden, by the inner moat of the castle, near Ishikawamon Gate, as well as the perimeter of the castle walls. Visitors can fully immerse themselves into the rich cultural history of Kanazawa Castle whilst sakura viewing, and feel transformed into royalty with intricate kimonos from nearby rental shops.

Access: The castle is a 25 minute walk south east of Kanazawa Station. Loop buses also pass the area from the station

Opening hours: 9:00am - 4:30pm. During the cherry blossom season, park grounds will typically open from 7:00am - 9:30pm (admission until 9:00pm) - the grounds will also be illuminated from 6:00pm onwards during this period

11. Kenrokuen Garden

Regarded as one of the top three landscape gardens in the entirety of Japan, Kenrokuen Garden offers exceptionally breathtaking views throughout the year, not just limited to cherry blossom season. The most dense collection of trees can be found along the row of shophouses near and around the Katsurazaka entrance, as well as alongside the length of the stream running through the garden, and near Hisagoike Pond.

Opening hours: 7:00am - 9:30pm (admission until 9:00pm) - the grounds will also be illuminated from 6:00pm onwards during this period

Admission: JPY 320 normally, but free during Cherry Blossom season

NAGOYA

12. Nagoya Castle

Ranking as one of Japan's three greatest castles, Nagoya Castle cuts a prominent figure against the backdrop of the city, through its famed two rooftop golden shachihoko figures. Roughly 1,000 cherry trees cluster within the castle precincts, across ten different varieties including Somei-Yoshino, weeping cherry, and the very rare Gyoiko, which is known for its green blooms. The sakura season is one of the most beautiful times to view the castle, with the blossoms of every tree bringing a beautifully pale pink contrast against the green and gold rooftop of the castle.

Access: From Nagoya Station, take the Sakuradori Subway Line to Hisayaodori Station (5 minutes) and change to the Meijo Subway Line to Shiyakusho Station (2 minutes). The total one way journey takes about ten minutes and costs 240 yen. From the nearest exit, it is a three minute walk to the castle's east gate. Alternatively, the castle's main gate can be reached from Nagoya Station by the Meguru tourist loop bus in about 25 minutes. The fare is 210 yen per ride or 500 yen for a day pass.

Opening hours: 9:00am - 4:30pm

Admission: JPY 500

13. Tsuruma Park

Established during the turn of the 20th century, Tsuruma Park is a fusion of both Eastern and Western garden ideals, however throughout the area lies around 1,200 cherry blossom trees, attracting droves of visitors during April each year regardless of their garden preferences.

Visitors can also enjoy tasty snacks from surrounding food stalls during cherry blossom season, which offer the standard food fare such as yakisoba and takoyaki, but also some more unusual Tokai-region favorites, which can be enjoyed with family and friends under the wondrous pink-lit ambience of the evening.

Access: The castle is a 25 minute walk south east of Kanazawa Station. Loop buses also pass the area from the station

Opening hours: Open 24 hours

KYOTO

14. Arashiyama

Arashiyama is most well-known for its natural landscape which is elevated even further during the cherry blossom season by the multiplicity of sakura trees lining the riverbank. The breathtaking sight of the flowers against the backdrop of Kyoto's mountains creates an irresistibly dreamy and surreal atmosphere. Visitors can also have the option of gliding through the harmonious scenery with various rickshaw services around the area. Those with further time on their hands can also opt to ride the Sagano Romantic Train for a more rustic view of the mountainside of Arashiyama.

Access: 15 minute train ride from Kyoto Station via the JR Sagano Line, to Saga-Arashiyama Station. Following this, a 10-15 minute walk will be required to reach central Arashiyama

Further activities: Hop on the Sky Bus from Kyoto Station to embark on a journey to additional cherry blossom spots such as Nijo Castle

OSAKA

15. Japan Mint Sakura Passageway

Renowned for producing Japanese currency, the Japan Mint in Osaka is also home to sakura passageway that's open for only a limited time each year, roughly one week during mid-April when the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. Visitors can walk beneath a vibrant canopy of blooms during this period, and admire an assortment of pink shades alongside the approximately 560 meter path.

Access: 15 minute walk from JR Osaka-Temmangu Station or Osakajo-Kitazume Station

Open hours: 10:00am - 9:00pm

16. Expo '70 Commemorative Park

Alternatively known as Osaka Expo Park, this is one of the city's most major viewing spots for sakura, housing an overwhelming 5,500 trees of varying species. During the cherry blossom season for roughly one month from mid-March to mid-April, the park extends its visiting hours and holds a Sakura Festival, with lights illuminating the trees at night.

The park offers many attractions, however the National and Cultural Gardens offers arguably the best vantage point and seating availabilities to view the cherry trees, as well as a boating pond, a barbecue area to cook food accompaniments to hanami, feature playgrounds for children, and a 300 meter long wooden walkway that offers an aerial view of the park's forested area.

Access: 5 minute walk from Osaka Monorail Banpakukinen-koen Station

Open hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm (extended hours during sakura season)

Admission: JPY 250

NARA

17. Nara Park

Most famous for its deer, Nara Park also grows over 1,700 cherry blossom trees on its grassy slopes, which co-exist in perfect harmony with its inhabitants.

Access: 5 minute walk from Kintetsu-Nara Station

FUKUOKA

18. Fukuoka Castle (Maizuru Park)

At its peak, this was once the largest castle in the Kyushu region, however in modern times it has since dwindled to a condensed version of its former glory, consisting of parts of walls and a few towers. Despite this, the remnants still retain a powerful metonymic association with Fukuoka Castle, existing as one of the most popular attractions in the heart of the city - springtime in particular is especially crowded as many gravitate towards this area as the top hanami spot in Fukuoka.

Alternatively known as Maizuru Castle, it is surrounded by a park of the same name. Home to incredibly lush and abundant foliage and over 1,000 cherry blossom trees, Maizuru Park allows visitors ample opportunities to both explore and relax, with a variety of walking trials and lookout points. Many tourists go one step further to match the ambience of the area, dressing in rental kimonos to complete the look and vibe of their hanami experience.

Access: 10-15 minute walk south from Ohori Koen Subway Station.

Opening hours: Open 24 hours

Admission: Entrance is normally free, however from 6:00pm - 10:00pm during the cherry blossom season, there will be illumination events running across three different areas. Entry costs to this is JPY 300 for one area, or JPY 600 for all three areas

19. Uminonakamichi Seaside Park

A short walk away from Marine World Uminonakamichi, the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is a friendly-family public park popular for flower viewing, where visitors can stroll or explore via the cycling trails, or simply sit beneath the trees for a picnic.

There is actually a huge variety of different flower species planted around the park, with the overall blooming season starting in mid-March and extending until early autumn. One of the busiest times to visit however is during the cherry blossom season, where both locals and tourists alike flock to view the roughly 2,000 cherry trees planted around the lawns and along the cycling trails. When in full bloom, these trees form intensely beautiful cherry blossom tunnels, making the park one of the most popular cherry blossom spots in Fukuoka.

Access: 10 minute ride via JR Kagoshima Line from Hakata Station to Kashii Station. After this, a 20 minute transfer via the JR Kashii Line to Uminonakamichi Station which is situated outside the entrance to the park.

Opening hours: 9:30am to 5:30pm

Admission: JPY 450

SAPPORO

20. Maruyama Park & Hokkaido Shrine

Maruyama Park houses around 150 cherry blossoms which bloom from late April to mid-May, and range in variety from the Yoshino trees to Sargent cherry trees. The Sargent cherry tree is one of the most predominant varieties of sakura within Hokkaido, and its blossoms bear a deeper pink hue than that of other regions. One of the most common characteristics of this tree is that the blossoms and leaves typically grow come out together during blooming season, making the tree appear darker than other types, as well as lending it a more rustic feel. The fruits of this tree are a favorite among birds, so it is not unusual to see a large flock of wild birds within this area during particular seasons

Hokkaido Shrine, situated next to Maruyama Park grows plum blossoms in addition to cherry blossoms, both of which bloom at around the same time.

Whilst it's traditional to have bento boxes either during or after the cherry blossom viewing, when the sakura trees bloom within the Hokkaido locality, residents instead favor preparing charcoal fire and meat, consuming Mongolian-style barbecue, otherwise known as "jingisukan". For an authentic meat experience, the Genghis Khan lamb is a recommended dish at the Sapporo Beer Garden, which is located a station away from Maruyama Koen Station.

Access: 5 minute walk from Maruyama Koen Station