Cherry Blossom season in Japan is upon us for 2016. Cities further towards the south such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka are already experiencing first blooms of the beautiful Sakura tree and it will be time to have fun at Hanami outdoor parties enjoying the views of the Cherry Blossom trees in Japan.
Magic of the Cherry Blossom Trees in Japan
Whilst Cherry Blossoms live across the northern hemisphere including the USA and Europe, the Sakura is probably not as appreciated anywhere as much as in Japan. Last year we were lucky enough to see our first Cherry Blossom tree right outside our hotel which was on the edge of the lovely Ueno Park in Tokyo. Seeing it at night for the first time under the lights only highlighted the natural and beautiful brightness of the Cherry Blossom.
During the day tonnes of people were taking selfies in front of the trees whether they were tourists or locals. The Sakuras in Japan brought genuine joy and happiness to people everyday which you could see with the big wide smiles and eyes gazing at this beautiful example of nature. No wonder the Sakura is the national flower of Japan.
Cherry Blossom Season in Japan 2016
The first sighting of a flowering Cherry Blossom this year was on 19 March in Fukuoka, many other major cities reported sightings soon after including Tokyo and Japan on 21 March. Okinawa in the far south are reported to get flowering Cherry Blossoms as early as January, although the generally the season for the most of Japan starts at the end of March with full bloom occurring in April. The further north you go, the later the Cherry Blossoms will bloom, for example Sapporo is not expected to see their Sakura blossom until May.
Catch them quick though, the blossoms will start to fall off the trees around 2 to 3 weeks after the first bloom, .
For full detailed dates of the Cherry Blossom Season in Japan for 2016 go to Japan National Tourism Office.
Where to see Cherry Blossom Trees in Japan Easily
See Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Ueno Park – The centrally located Ueno Park has over 1000 trees making it a popular spot to celebrate the blooming of Sakuras. With a major train station close by and numerous metro stations makes this an easy place to get to. As well as enjoying the Cherry Blossom trees, there are many museums in an around the park such as Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. You’ll also find temples, shrines and Ueno Zoo.
Shinjuku Gyoen – Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s largest parks and is great for horticultural lovers with a Japanese Garden, an English garden and a French garden to enjoy. You’ll find over a dozen varieties of cherry blossom trees at this magnificent park.
Asukayama Park – This beautiful hilltop park contains 3 museums including The Paper Museum, but it is also one of the oldest Hanami spots. Just a short walk from Oji station in Kita. The kids’ area even has a steam locomotive!
See Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto
The Path of Philosophy – You’ll probably walk along the canal-side Path of Philosophy whilst visiting Ginkaku-ji Temple otherwise known as The Silver Pavillion. The Path of Philosophy is lined with Cherry Blossom trees and is a beautiful walk from Eikan-do Temple in the south to Ginkaku-ji Temple in the north. Despite following in the footsteps of many people, walking along the canal past Japanese villages is a wonderfully satisfying experience especially if you were as lucky as us to experience it during Cherry Blossom season and without the usual crowds.
Maruyama-koen Park – Maruyama-koen Park is the most popular place to see Cherry Blossom trees as it is argued that this park has the finest examples of Sakuras in Kyoto. You’ll find many Hanami parties with people getting merry. The grand Chion-in Temple is also close by.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple – See Cherry Blossoms lit up at night at Kiyomizu-dera Temple, you’ll also great great views across the city from the high view point that the Temple grounds offer. You can also try to ensure good luck in lover at this temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. Try to walk from one stone pillar to another with your eyes closedin the main compound.
Shimbashi, Gion – The whole area of Gion is no doubt exquisite, but in Cherry Blossom season Shimbashi is the place to be. Not only because of expensive restaurants and Ryokans but between Nawate-dori and Kawabata-dori you will find beautiful Cherry Blossom trees illuminated from below.
See Cherry Blossoms in Osaka
Osaka Castle – Destroyed and rebuilt a few times, the imposing Osaka Castle is surrounded by the Osaka-Jo Koen Park which contains around 4000 Cherry Blossom trees. Nishinomaru Garden within the park is a lawn garden with a tea house and is a popular place to have a picnic and see the Cherry Blossom Trees that can also be viewed at night when they are illuminated.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park – Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a river side park stretching 4 km along the Okawa river. It’s 4km so you’ll see many Cherry Blossoms during the season, almost 5000 in fact. With picnic areas, jogging and walking paths, this park is a popular place for locals to excercise and relax especially when the Cherry Blossoms are in blooms. You can view the Sakuras by boat or “water buses” that leave from Hachikenya Port.
Enjoy a Hanami
The Japanese have been having Hanami parties for over a thousand years. A Hanami is a flower viewing to celebrate the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms, it is much more than simply viewing. Typically Hanamis these days are attended by younger people so can get very merry! Normally a picnic party among friends a Hanami will also involve alcohol and run into the night. If you want to get involved with a Hanami or want to start your own and bond with friends under the beautiful Cherry Blossom trees, don’t forget the following:
- Find out that the park allows Hanami parties
- Stock up on drink and plastic cups
- Get a nice bento box of tasty food, and maybe more great snacks
- It’s Japan so eat elegantly, get some disposable plates/bowls and chopsticks. (You can get a lot of your Hanami equipment at the 100 Yen shops)
- Elegantly ok! So bring tissues and/or wet wipes. Plus many public toilets in Japan do not have tissue.
- Don’t forget a picnic blanket or even a cushion
- And don’t you dare forget to bring a bag for your rubbish
- Remember if it’s a good Hanami party it will go into the night so bring a jacket
- Get there early to set up your spot
- Take lots of Cherry Blossom selfies
If you’ve forgotten your bottle opener, try this trick: