Cherry blossom viewing in Japan, also known as hanami, is an event locals and tourists from all over the world alike, look forward to each spring. Notorious for it’s immensely short bloom (just one to two weeks), planning a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms during the fleeting sakura season can prove to be quite the tricky affair. But hey, sweeter the reward!
Here’s where and when to see cherry blossoms in Japan 2017. Travel tip: Cherry blossoms bloom from late March to early May, starting from the Southernmost of Japan to Northern Japan. The flowers blossom briefly on different dates, so you can even plan your Japan itinerary to chase them across the different cities of Japan. Each region boasts its own unique hanami experience, from quiet picnics to lively festivals. Use our guides to find the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan based on the sakura forecast 2017.
Best to book early but leave wiggle room in your dates as mother nature has her own schedule — that is, dates can change so check the official forecast closer to the date. Here’s where to enjoy these pink beauties in full bloom.
Cherry Blossom Japan Forecast 2017
Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan 2017
Cherry Blossoms at Fukuoka Uminonakamichi Seaside Park
Everyone’s safe haven
Cherry Blossom 2017 Forecast dates: 25 March – 10 April
Cherry Blossom Tunnel at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park | CC 2.0 / Kimon Berlin
Ideal for families, the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park (entrance fee is 410 yen) is an extensive park packed with attractions for all ages. With so much to cover on foot, you can opt to hop on a rental bike (700 yen per day) to give you more accessibility to explore the park on the bike trails.
There are over 2,000 cherry blossom trees planted on either side of the trails, naturally forming a cherry blossom tunnel. ‘
Alternatively, you can opt for the bus pass to get on the bus that will brings you to the major attractions within the Uminonakamichi park. Have a leisurely ride under gorgeous pink clouds of cherry blossom along the bike trails or have a picnic in the sprawling lawns found in the park. After you’re done flower viewing, you can visit the many attractions within the park, such as the amusement park, water park and zoo.
How to get there: Catch direct flights to Fukuoka. There is a JR line that connects from Hakata Station to Uminonakamichi Seaside Park.
Where to Stay
Cherry Blossoms in Osaka – Kema Sakuranomiya Park
In the heart of the city
Cherry Blossom 2017 Forecast dates: 29 March – 2 April
Kema Sakuranomiya Park along the Okawa River | CC 2.0 / m-louis
The Kema Sakuranomiya Park, aptly named for the cherry blossom trees planted there, stretches along both banks of the Okawa River. There are over 4,000 cherry blossom trees planted on either side, making for breathtaking river views. Locals are often seen jogging or strolling along the banks. During full bloom, you’ll see the river banks spotted with picnickers underneath the many cherry blossom trees. While there are no “bad spots”, you might want to get there earlier in the day to snag yourself a comfortable area and to spread out your picnic mat.
How to get there: Direct flights to Osaka. Take the subway to Tenmabashi Station and walk a short distance to the park.
Where to Stay
Hanami at Maruyama Park, Kyoto
A picturesque charm
Cherry Blossom 2017 Forecast dates: 25 March – 12 April
The Weeping Cherry Tree at Maruyama Park | CC 2.0 / Luca Mascaro
Next to the Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Japan for both locals and tourists. The park tends to get crowded with viewers during the full bloom, so you might want to get in early to avoid the crowds.
Within the park you’ll be able to spot the gigantic weeping cherry tree, measuring 12 meters (40 foot) tall. Come by the park in the evening to see the magnificent tree being illuminated, creating a hauntingly beautiful scene.
How to get there: Direct flights to Osaka. From Osaka, take the JR to Kyoto and take a bus from Kyoto Station to Maruyama Park.
Where to Stay
Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park
A retreat from the city
Cherry Blossom 2017 Forecast dates: 26 March – 11 April
Picnic under Cherry Blossom Trees at Yoyogi Park | CC 2.0 / Marufish
Frequented by locals throughout the year, the Yoyogi public park is one Tokyo’s largest city parks. The park features many ponds and greenery, offering a great escape from the bustling metropolitan life.
With just over 600 cherry blossom trees in Yoyogi, it has comparatively less trees than the other Tokyo hanami sites. However, the gorgeous sprawling park still offers picnickers great viewing spots underneath the trees, with a significantly smaller crowd. Furthermore, you can find food stands within the park selling seasonal treats such as sakura flavored dango (rice balls) or soft-serve ice cream.
Sakura at Kanazawa Castle, Osaka
The royal blossom
Cherry Blossom 2017 Forecast dates: 4 April – 16 April
Cherry Blossom Trees at Kenrokuen | CC 2.0 / Richie Jons
Located in central Kanazawa, the huge garden grounds known as Kenrokuen at Kanazawa Castle offers great variety for your visit. Only during the spring cherry blossom season, visitors can enjoy free access into the garden. Not only do you get cherry blossoms in April, you can also catch the plum blossom bloom in March!
Relish in the serenity of the garden as you take in beautiful cherry blossoms at this top spot for cherry blossom viewing in Japan this year. There’s plenty of other flora and fauna on-site to admire too, including some unique Japanese botanical species.
You can also choose to enjoy a tranquil afternoon with traditional Japanese tea under the cherry trees at the tea houses located near the Katsurazaka Gate.
In the evening, Kanazawa Castle features cherry blossom tree light illuminations, scheduled between 6-9PM, offering visitors a different flower viewing experience.
How to get there: Direct flights to Osaka. Take the JR to Kanazawa. There are buses operating from Kanazawa Station to Kenrokuen for 200yen per way.
Where to Stay
Wherever you choose to catch these pink beauties, you’ll be guaranteed a magnificent sight. Cherry blossoms in Japan have drawn people in droves to visit the country consistently every spring because the hanami experience is really quite magical and like nothing else. Even in the event of bad weather, there is always a silver lining — light rain or strong winds that cause the fragile cherry blossoms to fall can create the illusion of pink showers, As wonderful as catching the first drops of snow. If you happen to arrive the day after a storm, you’ll find that the parks and surrounding rivers will be carpeted in pink. Perfect for having a picnic surrounded by cherry blossoms. There truly is no “bad” viewing experience. Just be sure to check the cherry blossom bloom forecast 2017 closer to the spring dates and you’ll be in for a wonderful hanami experience.
Did you know you can also see cherry blossoms Korea and Taiwan?!