2020 blossoms are expected from mid to late March in Kyushu and Shikoku.

Japan’s southern regions, Kyushu and Shikoku, are the first to show signs of spring as the cherry blossoms bloom across Japan like a pink tidal wave. Kyushu’s capital, Fukuoka, is famous for its ramen, but don’t let your taste buds pull you away from Fukuoka’s superb flower viewing locations. Neighboring prefectures such as Kagoshima and Kumamoto, as well as the spectacular sakura views found in Shikoku, will make any trip to Japan’s southern islands this spring an excellent experience.

Nishi Park

Fukuoka | Best time: March 19–March 29

Some 1,300 cherry blossom trees can be found in this park overlooking Hakata Bay. Extremely popular for hanami picnics, Nishi Park is one of Japan’s top sakura viewing spots. There are also spectacular views of the bay, Shikanoshima Island, and Fukuoka City. During sakura (cherry blossom) season, food stalls spring up along the walkway leading to Terumo Shrine in the park. Go at night to see the trees illuminated.

  • Popularity ranking: 3/5
  • Nearest station: Omachi Nishi-Koen Station
  • Entry fee: Free

Fukuoka Castle Ruins (Maizuru Park)

Fukuoka | Best time: March 19–March 29

The Fukuoka Castle Ruins are home to more than 1,000 cherry blossoms. Located inside Maizuru Park, all that remains of the fortress are ancient stone walls, which, thankfully, look beautiful in contrast with the white and pink flowers. The moat surrounding the castle also creates a lovely mirror image of the trees. From late March to mid-April, the Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival attracts more than 30,000 visitors a year, so expect large crowds. Luckily, this is yet another spot with a brilliant illumination for night viewing.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5
  • Nearest station: Omachi Nishi-Koen Station
  • Entry: ¥300 (¥600 for full access)
  • Fukuoka Caste Sakura Festival 2020 Dates: (yet to be released)
  • Nighttime Illumination: Sunset until 10 p.m.

Nokonoshima Island Park

Fukuoka | Best time: March 19–March 29

Take a ferry across the bay from Fukuoka City, and you’ll discover little Nokonoshima Island. The locals love it for outdoor activities like camping and barbecues, but it’s even more famous for its flower garden. In spring the island is splashed with color, including pink and white from 260 blooming cherry blossom trees. Crowded all year long, Nokonoshima Island is especially popular with newlyweds.

  • Popularity ranking: 4/5
  • Nearest terminal: Meinohama Passenger Terminal
  • Entry fee: ¥1,200

Aburayama Citizen’s Forest

Fukuoka | Best time: March 19–March 29

This spot is for people who’d enjoy combining their sakura viewing with a hiking trip. Around 2,000 cherry blossom trees are planted within Mount Abura’s 175 acres, as well as 3,000 trees from 46 countries. There are multiple hiking courses to choose from, and the summit offers breathtaking views of the bay and Fukuoka City.

  • Popularity ranking: 1/5
  • Nearest bus stop: Aburayama or Aburayama Danchi-guchi
  • Entry fee: Free

Kumamoto Castle

Kumamoto | Best time: March 19–March 29

Although only a few original structures remain since its construction in 1607, Kumamoto Castle is still one of Japan’s best feudal fortresses. Kumamoto Castle and its famed black and white tower are surrounded by nearly 1,000 blooming sakura trees. Just as beautiful in the day, Kumamoto Castle is at its most iconic during the nightly light up. While the castle was damaged by earthquakes in 2016 and closed for repair, it has partially reopened to the public.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5
  • Nearest station: Kumamotojo-mae
  • Entry fee: ¥500

Oka Castle Ruins

Oita | Best time: March 21–April 02

Oka Castle has a long history. Originally constructed in 1185, it was a mountaintop stronghold for Minamoto no Yoshitsune, one of Japan’s most celebrated samurai. Today, it’s a popular hiking destination that offers beautiful sweeping views of Oita’s forests. More than 1,000 cherry blossom trees are planted on the castle’s grounds which bloom during the Oka Castle Sakura Festival at the beginning of April.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Nearest station: JR Bungo-taketa Station
  • Entry fee: Free

Ogi Park

Saga | Best time: March 20–March 29

This popular sakura viewing spot has around 3,000 cherry trees. It’s also Saga Prefecture’s only spot on Japan’s official list of the best 100 cherry blossom locations. The trees are lit up at night and beautifully reflect off the central pond’s surface. Try one of the traditional Japanese yokan sweets as you stroll.

  • Popularity ranking: 3/5
  • Nearest station: JR Ogi Station
  • Entry fee: Free

Matsuyama Castle

Ehime | Best time: March 20–March 31

Matsuyama Castle sits on top of Mount Katsuyama. Constructed sometime after 1602, it is one of Japan’s 12 remaining feudal castles still intact since the Meiji Restoration. In the castle moat is Matsuyama Shiroyama Park which is one of Japan’s best-known sakura hot spots, it’s packed with cherry blossom chasers every year thanks to its spectacular views, festivals, and nighttime light up.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5
  • Nearest station: JR Matsuyama Station
  • Entry fee: ¥510

Mount Shiude

Kagawa | Best time: March 22–March 31

Also known as Shiudeyama, Mount Shiude is a magnificent mountain overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. There are more than 1,000 cherry blossom trees planted along the mountainside. Some argue that Shiudeyama is the greatest sakura viewing spot in all of Japan. Whether or not that is true, the combination of the sea, the setting sun, and the cherry blossoms will leave you in total awe.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Nearest station: Takuma Station
  • Entry fee: Free

Kotohira-gu Shrine

Kagawa | Best time: March 22–March 31

Popularly known as Konpira-san, Kotohira-gu is known for its 1,368 steps which serve as a religious pilgrimage. During spring, the shrine is covered in a canopy of pink cherry blossoms. Some 3,500 cherry blossom trees are planted in and around the shrine grounds—making it one of the densest spots in Kagawa Prefecture. The priest and shrine maidens add even more to the overall sacred atmosphere. There is also a cherry blossom festival beginning in late March that makes for a great time to visit.

  • Popularity ranking: 4/5
  • Nearest station: Kotohira Station
  • Entry fee: Free
  • Kotohiragu Cherry Blossom Festival Date: April 10 (annually)
  • The shrine is open to visitors until 5 p.m.

Cherry Blossom 2020 Travel Tips

  • Recommended viewing periods are approximate. Use our interactive map on the homepage of GaijinPot Travel for the most up-to-date forecast!
  • Festival dates may change to match the blooming of the flowers, so it’s worth double-checking before you go.
  • Cherry blossoms are super popular in Japan, so even locations with a lower popularity ranking are likely to attract plenty of people. Visit on weekdays to avoid the worst of the crowds.

2020 GaijinPot Cherry Blossom Contest

Contest details coming soon! In the meantime check the hashtag #GaijinPotSakura on social media to see last year’s entries.