Your 2019 Cherry Blossom Viewing Guide

Cherry blossoms, also known as sakura (桜:さくら) in Japan, are the small, delicate, light pink flowers that bloom from cherry blossom trees. This springtime phenomenon is breathtakingly beautiful, but also incredibly brief. After only two weeks, the petals of the soft pink canopy, drop to the ground like snow before they wither. If you visit Japan during cherry blossom season, it is important to double-check the blooming forecasts for the area you plan on being in.

Enjoying Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Everytime Spring comes, the Japanese celebrate a tradition called hanami (花見). The kanji hana (花) means “flower” and mi (見) means “look” or “see”. Basically, hanami is the simple pleasure of walking beneath the pink cherry blossom trees, taking in the picturesque view, while recognizing and reflecting on the beauty of nature. People often gather around the trees, have picnics, and play some music. It has become so popular with the locals as well as to the huge flock of tourists every sakura season that the Japanese even coined the term “Hanami party“.

Hanami Picnic Parties

If you are planning to enjoy Hanami this coming spring, it would be best if you bring along your own Obento (lunch/dinner box) and picnic blanket that you can set up beneath the pretty pink flowers. The popular food items enjoyed during sakura viewing are sweet pink sakura mochi, sushi rolls, and tamagoyaki or Japanese-style omelet; though it is really up to your preference. After your picnic, remember to take all your trash with you so that others can enjoy hanami in a clean park. It is also imperative to treat the cherry blossom trees with respect by not climbing on them and by not breaking their twigs because it can prevent the blossoms from growing again come next spring.

Cherry Blossoms and The Japanese Psyche

Sakura is a flower native to Asia, as it can also be found in China, South Korea and India, and today it blooms even in other parts of the world. It is also the official flower of Japan. To the Japanese, cherry blossoms are more than just beautiful. They see it as a representation of life itself, vivid, glorious, though just never long enough. A reminder that human life are as fleeting and life is as fragile as the cherry blossoms blown away by the soft wind. However, sakura are also seen as a symbol of renewal and new hope, because it signals not only spring where everything grows anew, but also the start of the Japanese calendar year, a chance for a new beginning. Truly, cherry blossoms are not just a tourist attraction, or a national icon, it is also a metaphor.

A Short Bloom: Getting the Timing Right

If you are planning on visiting Japan, it would be perfect to time your stay during the cherry blossom trees’ prime, which stretches from early March to until the second week of May. Considering Japan’s size and geographical spread, the cherry blossoms appear at different times and usually only last for several days. Therefore, when you are traveling in Japan during cherry blossom season, it is important to double-check the blooming forecasts for the area you plan on being in.

 livejapan.com/

Japan’s Top Destinations for Cherry Blossom Viewing: 2019

Japan is a true sakura-heaven, as there are so many cherry blossoms viewpoints in all across the nation! Here are the popular spots that are famous for sakura viewing, starting from the South and moving up through Northern Japan..

Fukuoka Area: Nishi Park (西公園)

When Nishi Park was established in 1881, the cityscape planners made use of the natural hills, views, and valleys of Fukuoka. And, because Nishi Park is located in the center of Fukuoka City, visitors can enjoy the “borrowed scenery” of Fukuoka City, Hakata Bay, and Shikanoshima Island as well in the background.  The large park is home to cherry trees, azaleas, and other plants in additional to the natural trees of the area, which includes pine, beech, and evergreen oak. In the spring, close to 1,300 cherry trees bloom, and the park has therefore been chosen as one of the Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites.

First flower: March 17, 2019

Full bloom March 28, 2019

English Website

Hiroshima Area: Peace Memorial Park (平和記念公園)

Photo: www.nihon-kankou.or.jp

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a public park that was built near the location of the bomb that America dropped on the city near the end of World War II. The park grounds include the Atomic Bomb Dome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and the National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. Every spring, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is one of the most famous spots for cherry blossom viewing in all of Hiroshima. Not only do the pathways through the park grounds become sakura tunnels, but both sides of the Motoyasu River, which runs through the park, are lined with cherry blossom trees as well.

First flower: March 22, 2019

Full bloom: March 31, 2019

 

Okayama Area: Okayama Korakuen (岡山後楽園)

Photo: Next Trip WEST JAPAN

Okayama’s main cherry blossom viewing spot is the beautiful Korakuen garden, which is ranked as one of the three best landscape gardens in all of Japan. Korakuen is located just beside Okayama Castle, which serves as a lovely backdrop, as it is easily seen from the garden’s spacious grounds. Korakuen incorporates the typical features of a Japanese landscape garden, such as a large pond, trickling streams, walking paths and a hill that serves as a vantage point. The foliage of the garden includes plum, cherry and maple trees. It is incredibly beautiful during cherry blossom season in the spring.

First flower: March 24, 2019

Full bloom: March 31, 2019

English Website

 

Nara Area: Mount Yoshino (吉野山)

Mount Yoshino (吉野山, Yoshinoyama) is vastly regarded as Japan’s most famous cherry blossom viewing spot. It is said that the first trees were planted along its slopes more than 1300 years ago. The mountain is covered in approximately 30,000 cherry trees of many different varieties. Mount Yoshino is divided into four areas: the Shimo Senbon (lower 1000 trees) at the base of the mountain, Naka Senbon (middle 1000 trees), Kami Senbon (upper 1000 trees) and Oku Senbon (inner 1000 trees) at the top of the mountain. Visitors who come to Mount Yoshino during cherry blossom season can enjoy the various sections of cherry trees as they go up the mountain. There are also a number temples and shrines, parks, and viewpoints that make great hanami spots along the way.

First flower: March 24, 2019

Full bloom: March 31, 2019

Osaka Area: Osaka Castle (大阪城)

Osaka’s iconic castle also serves as a popular cherry blossom viewing spot as well, as over 4000 cherry trees are planted on the spacious castle grounds. Within the grounds is also the Nishinomaru Garden, a lawn garden with 600 cherry trees, a tea house, the former Osaka Guest House, and nice views of the castle. Not only is it a particularly nice place for a picnic, because of its many trees within the wide lawns, but it also features a light up in the evening.

First flower: March 25, 2019

Full bloom: April 1, 2019

English Website

 

Osaka Area: Expo 70 Park (万博記念公園)

Phptp: tenki.jp

The Expo ’70 Commemorative Park is a large, public park in Osaka. It was originally built to serve as the site for the 1970 World Exhibition in Osaka, and following the completion of the World Expo, the grounds were renamed as the Expo Commemorative Park and opened to the public. Today, Expo 70 Park is a popular place to enjoy nature, sports, museums and seasonal flowers. During the spring, the park is colored with over 5,000 cherry trees along it’s walking paths and large lawn areas. In the evenings, there is light up that illuminates the trees well after dark.

First flower: March 25, 2019

Full bloom: April 1, 2019

Tokyo Area: Ueno Park(上野公園)

Ueno Park (Photo Credit: MakeMyTrip)

 

 

Ueno Park is a large public park next to Ueno Station in central Tokyo. The park is famous for the collection of museums located on its spacious grounds, as well as Ueno Zoo, Japan’s first zoological garden. Additionally, Ueno Park is one of Tokyo’s most popular cherry blossom spots, as it’s main central pathway becomes a sakura tunnel lined by almost 1,200 cherry trees. There is also a lake, where people can rent paddle boats and enjoy the sight of the cherry blossoms from the water. During the festival period, the cherry blossoms trees are illuminated by light-ups so they can be enjoyed at night as well.

First flower: March 23, 2019

Full bloom: March 30, 2019

There is a sakura festival held in Ueno Park every year during cherry blossom season!

 

Yamanashi Area: Chureito Pagoda (忠霊塔)

The Chureito Pagoda is a five-story pagoda on the mountainside overlooking Fujiyoshida City with a famous viewpoint of Mount Fuji in the distance. The pagoda was built as a peace memorial in 1963, and is a part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine. The pagoda offers incredible views of Mount Fuji, especially during the cherry blossom season, when there are hundreds of sakura trees in bloom. This spot is particularly popular among photographers.

First flower: March 26, 2019

Full bloom: April 3, 2019

English Website

 

Nagano Area: Takato Castle Park (高遠城址公園)

Takato Castle Ruins Park is said to be one of Japan’s top three places to see cherry blossoms. The park is located on a hill in Ina City of Nagano Prefecture. The park is home to around 1,500 cherry trees, which are said to have been planted when the park was first opened to the public in 1875.  In the center of the park is Ounkyo, a slightly-arched bridge that is known to be one of the best cherry blossom spots in the entire park. During the peak blooming period, illuminations light up the sakura trees every night from sunset to 10:00pm.

A cherry blossom festival is held annually, usually for the whole month of April, during which many festival stalls are set up around the park. (J-FestGuide)

First flower: April 8, 2019

Full bloom: April 12, 2019

English Website

 

Fukushima Area: Miharu Takizakura (三春滝桜)

The ancient Miharu Takizakura tree is considered by many to be the single, most beautiful cherry blossom tree in all of Japan. “Takizakura” literally means “waterfall cherry tree” in Japanese. The 12-meter-tall tree’s branches spread out over 20 meters, and the cherry blossoms hang down in a way that resembles a cascading waterfall. The trunk has an impressive width of 9.5 meters, and the tree is estimated to be over a thousand years old.

First flower: April 6, 2019

Full bloom: April 10, 2019

English Website

 

Aomori Prefecture: Hirosaki Park (弘前公園

Hirosaki Park is widely known as being one of Japan’s best cherry blossom spots. It is home to an astounding 2500 trees, which are spread throughout the grounds in a sakura paradise of cherry blossom tunnels, petal-filled moats, numerous picnic areas, rental rowing boats, and illuminations in the evenings. Hirosaki Park is incredibly popular, as it offers multiple incredible cherry blossom spots all together in one location.

A festival is held annually from April 23 to May 5, when the blossoms are usually in bloom. 

First flower: April 22, 2019

Full bloom:  April 26, 2019

 

Hokkaido: Goryokaku Park, Hakodate(五稜郭、函館 )

Hakodate (Photo Credit: Japan Guide)

 

 

Goryokaku is a massive, star-shaped, Western-style citadel, which was built in the last years of the Edo Period. A picture-perfect spot south of Hokkaido, Goryokaku Park offers the ultimate aerial sakura experience. More than a thousand cherry blossom trees were planted in this area so we’re sure you can get your own hanami spot! Keep in mind that because Hokkaido is located so far north, the sakura trees bloom much later here, and not quite as fully.

First flower: April 28, 2019

Full bloom: May 1, 2019

English Website

NOTE: These forecast dates are been updated as of February 21, 2019.

Watch Cherry Blossoms LIVE on Facebook!

Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura viewing:

Beautiful Sakura 🌸 in Hirosaki park (弘前公園)

Posted by Japanese Language & Culture on Saturday, 29 April 2017

 

Temmabashi, overlooking Ookawa River (大川) in Osaka:

Sakura Live! -Kema-sakuranomiya parkHere we are at Temmabashi, overlooking Ookawa(大川) in Osaka

Posted by Japanese Language & Culture on Friday, March 30, 2018

 

Do You Love Japan?

Check out our Online Japanese Lessons
LEARN BASIC JAPANESE FOR FREE NOW!

Looking for a unique Japanese gift? Japanese Hanko name seal is just for you!
Hanko, Japanese name seal stamp