2020 blossoms are expected from late April to early May in Hokkaido.

After sweeping its way across the country like an express shinkansen, cherry blossom fever pulls up for its final stop, Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. Hokkaido’s capital city Sapporo has several nice parks for flower viewing, but nearby cities like Hakodate set the bar even higher. Here are some of the best places to savor the end of the sakura (cherry blossom) season.

Shizunai Nijukken Road

Best time: April 23–May 4

In the spring, about 3,000 cherry trees line this seven-kilometer-long road turning it a vivid pink. The spectacular sight frequently ranks among the best blossom spots in Japan and attracts over 200,000 visitors every year.

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

Matsumae Park

Best time: April 21—May 2

Matsumae Park surrounds the only castle in Hokkaido and sports over 10,000 cherry trees with no less than 250 varieties. Every year from late April to mid-May, the Matsumae Sakura Festival takes place around the castle and visitors can enjoy light projections, local delicacies, and cultural performances, while picnicking under the blossoms.

  • Popularity ranking: 4/5
  • Nearest station: 90 minutes by bus from JR Kikonai Station
  • Entry: Free (¥360 to enter Matsumae Castle)
  • Matsumae Sakura Festival 2020 Dates: Sat, April 25 to Tues, May 12

Makomanai Park

Best time: April 23—May 4

Makomanai Park has a lot to offer visitors—peaceful walking courses, stadiums from the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, and around 13,000 cherry trees all blooming spectacularly in spring. Sapporo’s prime picnic spot also has a salmon museum, what else could you ask for?

  • Popularity ranking: 3/5
  • Nearest station: Makomanai Station
  • Entry: Free

Asahiyama Park

Best time: April 23—May 4

Located next to Sapporo’s Asahiyama Zoo, this park is famous for its sweeping vista of untouched Hokkaido landscape. There is also the small matter of over 2,000 Yezo mountain cherry trees making the scenery extra special every spring.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Nearest station: JR Asahikawa Station
  • Entry: Free

Ashibetsu Asahigaoka Park

Best time: April 23—May 8

Around 1,000 cherry trees bloom here, turning the entirety of Asahigaoka Park pink. Entry is free and picnickers are welcome. They even illuminate the cherry trees at night to give the park a more magical feel. As a bonus, there’s a bunch of cute animals to observe and pet, including baby rabbits and guinea pigs.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Nearest station: JR Ashibetsu Station
  • Entry: Free

Noboribetsu Onsen Flower Tunnel

Best time: May 4—May 8

Nothing screams Japan more than sakura and onsen (hot springs), and in Noboribetsu you’ll get them both. The town’s main road is lined with cherry trees that create a near endless tunnel of blossoms for you to drive or walk through as you head into town. Everyone knows, cherry blossom viewing is such hard work, so you’ll definitely need to relax in the area’s hot springs afterward.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Nearest station: JR Noboribetsu Station
  • Entry: Free

Hakodate Park

Best time: April 23—May 2

Sitting at the base of Mt. Hakodate with views of the sea, Hakodate Park is a relaxing place to spend your time. Every spring the park’s 400 or so cherry trees are lit up with hanging lanterns so you can enjoy the festive mood into the night. Unlike Goryokaku Park across the city, Hakodate Park is more popular with locals and families than tourists and offers a glimpse into the true hanami experience.

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

Goryokaku Park

Best time: April 23—May 2

Goryokaku is one of Hokkaido’s star attractions—literally. Visitors come all year ‘round to take in its exceptional scenery and learn some history from the Hakodate War. The only thing that could possibly make it better is the sight of 1,600 cherry trees surrounding the star-shaped Goryokaku in full bloom. To fully take in the park’s unique shape and get a birdseye view of Hakodate city, head up to the observation deck of nearby Goryokaku Tower.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5
  • Nearest station: JR Hakodate Station
  • Entry: Free (¥900 for the Goryokaku Tower Observation Deck)

Maruyama Park

Best times: April 23—May 4

There are many famous parks in Sapporo, and most of them make for great cherry blossom viewing spots. What makes Maruyama Park stand out is that it also has close to 300 plum trees, giving you the rare treat of seeing both bloom at the same time. In spring, the city allows visitors to barbecue at the park as well. Treat yourself to Hokkaido’s popular “Genghis Khan” (lamb) on the grill as you enjoy the spring flowers.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5
  • Nearest station: Maruyama Koen Station
  • Entry: Free

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.