Where to enjoy this year's sakura in Chugoku
Hiroshima is in the heart of the Chugoku region on the western side of Japan’s main island of Honshu. Hiroshima and surrounding Chugoku prefectures such as Okayama, Yamaguchi, and Shimane are filled with traditional architecture, lush parks, and long stretches of awe-inspiring natural scenery.
Resting atop Mt. Senkoji and overlooking the town of Onomichi, this park takes a bit of effort to get to, but it’s worth it. A short ride on the Senkoji-yama Ropeway to Sancho Station will reward you with not only stellar views of the Seto Inland Sea, but also a sea of 10,000 cherry blossom trees. Other attractions include Senkoji Temple and the Onomichi City Art Museum.
This garden is conveniently located just a short walk from Hiroshima Station. Originally commissioned in 1620, the park recreates peaceful natural scenery—mountains, valleys, and rivers—only smaller. Although destroyed in the 1945 atomic bombing, it was rebuilt as a testament to the city’s perseverance early after the war. Plum, peach, and cherry blossoms fill the normally green park with beautiful whites and pinks until April. Visitors can even enjoy blossom viewing paired with tea ceremonies for ¥600.
No. Not that Ueno Park in Tokyo. Shobara-Ueno Park has been around since the Edo period. It is home to some 2,000 cherry blossom trees and a beautiful bridge stretching over a crystal clear pond. Paper lanterns are placed on the trees for night viewing during the Shobara Sakura Monogatari festival in April. The park doesn’t get too crowded despite its high ranking since it’s slightly out of the way compared to other parks in Hiroshima.
The most recognizable memorial in Hiroshima, the Atomic Bomb Dome is also known for its beautiful row of cherry blossoms. The banks of the Motoyasu River are lined with roughly 300 cherry blossom trees, which are illuminated at night. The beautiful scenery of the blossoms and the river, along with the presence of the dome, create a peaceful yet haunting reminder of the horrors of war.
Miyajima is a small island just off the Hiroshima coast. Here you’ll find friendly deer, Komyoin Temple, and, of course, picturesque Itsukushima Shrine. You probably didn’t know about the nearly 2,000 cherry blossom trees scattered on the island, however. A row of trees stretching along the path leading to Itsukushima Shrine is especially beautiful in spring. Expect a lot of crowds, as well as more than a few hungry deer.
The stone walls of Tsuyama Castle look magnificent as a backdrop to more than 1,000 cherry blossom trees surrounding the castle. To those looking for that perfect Japan setting in Okayama, this is it. The best view can be found at the top of the castle. At night, the trees are illuminated for a surreal atmosphere.
Some 200 cherry blossom trees line this scenic road. The riverbanks draw huge crowds every year for flower viewing and barbecues. At night, the trees are lit and popular food stalls open up. It’s a great way to try some delicious Japanese street food and enjoy sakura at the same time.
This beautifully arched bridge is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Yamaguchi Prefecture, but even more so during the sakura season. There are more than 1,000 cherry blossom trees planted along the river and at nearby Kikko Koen Park. Paired with the snake-like Kintaikyo Bridge, it’s a genuine Japanese experience. The grassy riverbanks are extremely popular for picnics and flower viewing, so you may want to go early to score the best spot.
Tourists are finally starting to pay attention to Shimane Prefecture, and its rich cultural heritage. Matsue Castle is a prime example. It’s one of the country’s few remaining feudal castles, having survived wars, earthquakes, fires, and whatever else was thrown at it. It is also one of Japan’s official best 100 cherry blossom spots. There are more than 200 different sakura species planted on the castle grounds, and there is even a festival with traditional kagura dances and drum performances, Oshiro Matsuri, during the sakura season.
The Hikawa River is not only one of the best sakura viewing spots in Chugoku, but also in all of Japan and has been officially recognized as such. About 800 cherry blossom trees form a tunnel around the road next to the riverbank. During the sakura season, the Kisuki Sakura Festival has firework displays and food stalls. The old-school Negai pedestrian bridge also makes for a unique photo opportunity.
Found in a 1,300-year-old hot spring town, the Tamayugawa river bank is Chugoku’s best open secret. Locals know and love it and tourists barely knew it existed until recently. The sakura trees stretch about two kilometers down the river, gracefully hanging over the water. For a more romantic atmosphere, visit the river bank at night when the blossoms are illuminated.