We offer up exactly where to see the 2019 blossoms, including some of the most iconic spots plus ones that are a lot less crowded.
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. There are around 5,500 cherry trees in the park and many facilities open for daytime exploration, such as a Japanese garden and a footbath, museums and forest nature trails.
The Osaka branch of the national mint annually opens a 560-meter cherry-lined path within its grounds for one week to allow visitors to walk through and enjoy the beauty of around 350 trees in full bloom. The timing is announced mid-March. Most trees here are late-blooming, double-petal varieties and include some rare types hard to find elsewhere. No drinking or eating is allowed and the route is strictly one-way from south to north, but the sight of the puffy blossoms, especially under nightly illumination, makes the regimentation worthwhile.
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 blossom 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 on the west bank.
This park is built around the ruins of Akashi Castle, which this year celebrates the 400th anniversary of its construction. The main keep no longer exists, but two turrets remain in a garden associated with the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Around 1,000 cherry trees bloom here, mainly in the area surrounding Gono Pond. The park also has lots of lawn area, play equipment and rowboats and swan-shaped pedal boats to mess around in.
About 400 cherry trees surround the lake in the middle of the park, which includes broad lawn areas, as well as 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 Mozu cluster of ancient burial mounds, which includes the nation’s largest keyhole-shaped tomb.
One of Japan’s most beautiful castles offers a breathtaking view of cherry blossoms against its graceful white exterior. Around a thousand cherry trees of the mainstream somei yoshino variety adorn the castle grounds. There are cherry-lined paths in the Sannomaru area, and weeping cherry trees in the Nishinomaru garden are lit up at night during the peak blossoming period, while the castle is illuminated nightly until midnight. For a unique way to enjoy the castle and the blossoms, take a boat ride around the moat.
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 springtime spectacle here sees 30,000 cherry trees flower in turn from the base of the mountain upwards through four distinct sections; shimo-senbon, naka-senbon, kami-senbon, oku-senbon. From Yoshino station you can either enjoy a pleasant walk, or take a bus from the station, and then a cable car to the top section. Visit the Hanayagura observation point for the famous panoramic view of the blooming mountain.
This park, built around a scenic valley, is located midway between the cities of Osaka and Kyoto, and offers great cherry blossom viewing and an escape into nature. At 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.
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. Check out the late-blooming double-petal yaezakura cherry trees to the south of the plum grove, too. The castle is also famous for its plum blossoms, which flower from late January through to March.
About 800 cherry trees line the moat of this pretty little (reconstructed) castle. It is a popular spot for night viewing of the blossoms, which are lit up by around 600 paper lanterns. From an outlook on the ruins of the castle tower you can see the pink clouds of blossom below, but another of the key views here 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.
Share your cherry blossom photos with us by tagging #GaijinPotSakura on social media. We’ll repost the best ones.