2020 blossoms are expected from mid to late March in Kansai.

As a stop on the prized “golden-route,” Osaka is extremely popular for cherry blossom viewing. Nearby Nara with its historical shrines, and Hyogo with its stunning scenery complete the trifecta for awesome cherry blossom viewing spots. If you’re like us and absolutely loathe crowds, quiet Wakayama is also only a short ride away. Take your pick of the best spots in the Kansai region with this handy list.

11
Expo ’70 Commemorative Park

Osaka | Best time: March 22–March 30

This vast park, in 1970, was the home of the first world fair to be held in Asia. Today it is one of Osaka’s top spots for cherry-blossom viewing, especially during the nighttime illumination period, held in the natural and cultural gardens section, and usually accompanied by food stalls. While the esoteric Tower of the Sun statue takes center stage in the Expo Park, there are also over 5,000 cherry trees and many facilities open for daytime exploration, such as a Japanese garden and a footbath, museums and forest nature trails.

  • Popularity ranking: 3/5
  • Nearest station: Banpaku Kinen Koen Station (Osaka Monorail)
  • Night view:  6 p.m. to 9 p.m., March 20 – April 14 (subject to change)
  • Entry: ¥260

10
Osaka Mint Bureau

Osaka | Best time: March 22–March 30

The Osaka branch of the National Mint Bureau annually opens a 560-meter cherry-lined path within its grounds for one week only. Walkthrough and enjoy the beauty of around 350 trees, but be careful—it’s strictly a one-way only path. No drinking or eating is allowed either, but the sight of the puffy blossoms, especially under the nightly illumination, makes the regimentation worthwhile. The exact dates are usually announced in mid-March. Most trees here are late-blooming, double-petal varieties and include some rare types hard to find elsewhere.

  • Popularity ranking: 3/5
  • Closest station: Temmabashi Station
  • Entry: Free
  • Night view: From dusk to 9 p.m.

9
Kema Sakuranomiya Park

Osaka | Best time: March 22—March 30

Blossoms line both sides of the Okawa River in this park that runs for four kilometers and boasts around 4,800 cherry trees. The riverside promenades are also cherry-lined, making a soft pink tunnel of blossoms accessible 24 hours. The flowers will be lit up at night during their peak week when food stalls will also be on hand. Follow the river downstream and you’ll reach the Osaka Mint Bureau on the west bank.

  • Popularity Ranking: 2/5
  • Closest station: Sakuranomiya Station
  • Entry: Free

8
Akashi Park

Hyogo | Best time: March 20—March 30

This park is built around the ruins of Akashi Castle. The main keep no longer exists, but two turrets remain in a garden associated with the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. With the beautiful watchtowers of the castle ruins at the center, this is a great place to picnic all year round, but springtime is extra special with around 1,000 sakura trees blooming. The park also has lots of lawn space, play equipment, rowboats and, swan-shaped pedal boats to mess around in.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Closest station: Akashi Station (about an hour from Osaka)
  • Entry: Free
  • The park is open 24-hours with paper lanterns lit at night during peak season

7
Kiimidera Temple

Wakayama | Best time March 21—March 30

Constructed in 770 by a priest from the Tang dynasty, this ancient temple is the second stop on one of Japan’s oldest pilgrimages—the Saigoku Kannon. Every spring this peaceful temple in Wakayama City gets coated in a layer of pink from hundreds of picturesque cherry trees.

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

6
Daisen Park

Osaka | Best time: March 22—March 30

About 400 cherry trees surround the lake in the middle of the park, which includes broad lawn areas, a children’s forest, a Japanese garden, and a teahouse. There are almost 1,000 cherry trees throughout the entire park, including weeping cherries that bloom about 10 days earlier than the main somei yoshino type, which is the predominant variety here.

Visit the rock garden to take in the sight and smell of an aromatic cherry variety common to Hokkaido, the chishima-zakura. Interestingly, the park is located amid the ancient Mozu burial mounds, which includes the nation’s largest keyhole-shaped tomb.

  • Popularity ranking: 2/5
  • Closest station: Mozu Station
  • Entry: Free

5
Himeji Castle

Hyogo | Best time: March 20—March 30

A UNESCO World Heritage site and a staple in every Japan travel guide, words can’t really do Himeji Castle the justice it deserves. Despite normally being closed at night, the castle opens the doors to the Nishinomaru Garden during cherry blossom season so everyone can gaze in awe at thousands of flowers against the graceful, white castle walls.

Weeping cherry trees in the Nishinomaru Garden are lit up at night while the castle itself is illuminated nightly until midnight. The Sannomaru area also has nice cherry-lined paths for those who prefer daytime viewing. For a unique way to enjoy the castle and the blossoms, take a boat ride around the moat.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5 (one of the most popular spots in Japan)
  • Closest Station: Himeji Station
  • Entry: Free (¥600 to enter the Himeji Castle)
  • Night view: Nishinomaru garden is lit up for one week during peak blooming from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

4
Mount Yoshino

Nara | Best time: March 22—March 30

Known throughout the world for its mountain-wide display of cherry blossoms, Mount Yoshino is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site pilgrimage route of the Kii Mountain Range. The first cherry trees on Mt. Yoshino’s slopes were planted more than 1,300 years ago. Now, the mountain is covered by around 30,000 thousand cherry trees of different varieties. The Northern facing slope is divided into four areas and you can enjoy the blossoms, shrines, and shops as you make your way through the town and up the mountain.

From Yoshino Station, you can either take a pleasant walk, or take a bus from the station, and then a cable car to the top. Visit the Hanayagura observation point for the famous panoramic view of the blooming mountain.

  • Popularity Ranking: 5/5
  • Closest station: Yoshino Station
  • Entry: Free
  • Night view from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. during peak period

3
Settsukyo Park

Osaka | Best time: March 22—March 30

This park, built around a scenic valley, is located midway between the cities of Osaka and Kyoto and offers great cherry blossom viewing with an escape into nature. On the south side of this broad-ranging park is a cherry blossom garden with about 800 trees, play equipment, and lawn areas. Each year the flowers there are illuminated by paper lanterns. There are estimated to be around 3,000 cherry trees throughout the entire park, which includes a woodland hiking course and a hot spring facility.

  • Popularity ranking: 3/5
  • Closest Bus Stop: Take the city bus from JR Takatsuki Station to Tsukawaki
  • Entry: Free
  • Night view from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for one week during peak dates

2
Osaka Castle Park

Osaka city | Best time March 29–April 7

With about 3,000 cherry trees, an annual light-up event, and the stately backdrop of Osaka Castle, this is the place for cherry-viewing parties. Among the vast grounds, Nishinomaru Garden is a must for the roughly 300 cherry trees that are illuminated there. The castle is also famous for its plum blossoms, which flower from late January through to March. Check out the late-blooming double-petal yaezakura cherry trees to the south of the plum grove, too.

  • Popularity ranking: 5/5
  • Closest station: Morinomiya or Osakajokoen Station
  • ¥350 to enter Nishinomaru Garden during cherry blossom season; ¥600 for the castle tower
  • Night view from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Nishinomaru Garden

1
Koriyama Castle

Nara | Best time March 22—March 30

About 800 cherry trees line the moat of this pretty little (reconstructed) castle. Over 300,000 visitors come here to take in the fantasy atmosphere and beauty of the blossoms as they are illuminated by 600 lanterns. From an outlook on the ruins of the castle tower, you can see the pink clouds of blossom below. Another key view is the contrast between the hard, dark 400-year old stone garden walls and the soft flower petals. To make the most of this, enter via the beautiful Ote gate and take the long route through the grounds.

  • Popularity ranking: 4/5
  • Closest station: Kintetsu-Koriyama (From Osaka: 1hr 10min by train)
  • Entry: Free
  • Night view from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. during peak season

Osaka Blossoms 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!
  • Castles and parks lead the top spots for cherry-blossom viewing in Osaka and nearby Nara and Hyogo prefectures. Some of these spots are an hour or two from central Osaka city and could be a day trip or overnight trip.
  • In order to avoid the worst of the crowds, visit on weekdays when most Japanese are at work. For a hanami, it’s customary to take a tarp or blanket, food and drinks and enjoy blossoms and partying.

2020 GaijinPot Cherry Blossom Contest

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