In Japan, spring means cherry blossoms. But where do you go for the best sakura experience? Look no further, here are the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan (outside of Tokyo).

If you’d rather stay in the Tokyo area, check out our mega guide to Tokyo sakura spots for the lowdown on all the best places to see cherry blossoms in the capital.

When is the best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan?

If you want to see cherry blossoms in Japan, you’re going to have to time it right. They’re only really in bloom for two weeks tops, a narrow window that takes place sometime between March and May — depending on where you are.

The north–south geography of the country means that the sakura bloom at different times in different locations; liekwise, mountain destinations bloom later than places at lower altitudes. Weather also plays a part — for example unseasonal rain (or even snow) can delay the season, or end it early.

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One thing makes planning easier: the annual cherry blossom forecast, which predicts the first bloom and full bloom dates for different regions of Japan. The first forecast is usually released in January, and then is updated regularly all the way through March.

Japan cherry blossom forecast 2024

In 2024, the sakura season is starting in mid- to late March for most areas, with some of the first blooms predicted around March 20.

Japan 2024 cherry blossom forecast map. Last updated: February 29, 2024.
Japan 2024 cherry blossom forecast. Last updated: February 29, 2024. | Photo by Japan Meteorological Corporation

Note that the forecast is based on the Somei-yoshino variety of cherry blossom, which is the most popular; however, there are actually many different varieties of cherry blossom, some of which bloom earlier or later.

Best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan

There are lots of ways to enjoy cherry blossoms in Japan. From sakura matsuri (cherry blossom festivals) to hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) and just going for a nice stroll, how you choose to experience sakura in Japan is completely up to you. Some places are better for different activities though, so ask yourself first: Do you prefer to paddle past the cherry blossoms or to gaze at romantic nighttime illuminations? (Both are possible!).

Keep in mind that cherry blossom season is peak travel time for both domestic and international tourists. Expect crowds and higher prices, no matter where you go.

Note: The dates listed here are estimations only. Check official websites when planning a visit.

1. Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine

March 29 (first bloom) to April 5 (full bloom)
Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture

Photo by Getty Images

Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine is a nice option for a spring day trip from Tokyo. Considered a national treasure, Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shrine is Kamakura‘s most important Shintō shrine. It has a variety of different cherry blossom species, so you have a bit more time to visit outside of the usual season. One of the best spots to see the blossoms is along Dankazura, the path leading to the entrance of the shrine.

If you’d like to make the most of your time in Kamakura and visit more of the sights, consider booking this walking tour. It includes round-trip tickets from Shinjuku, plus an English-speaking guide who will take you to not only Tsurugaoka Hachimangū but also the Great Buddha and Hase-dera.

2. The Philosopher’s Path

March 25 (first bloom) to April 1 (full bloom)
Higashiyama District, Kyoto

Photo by krblokhin/iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images.

This Kyoto landmark is known as a meditative place for a stroll. The 2km path meanders along a canal and is a popular place to admire nature and observe seasonal changes, but gets especially busy in spring. Part of the charm of the Philosopher’s Path though, it that it has lots of options for detours as you walk — so if the crowds are getting a bit much you can step off and explore a nearby shrine or temple.

Pro tip: The Philosopher’s Path is one of the most popular sakura spots in Kyoto, so go early in the morning if you’d like a more peaceful experience.

3. Miyajima Island

March 24 (first bloom) to March 31 (full bloom)
Itsukushima, Hiroshima Prefecture

The view over Miyajima in the evening. | Photo by Sean Pavone/ iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images.

Known for its red torii gate and friendly deer, Miyajima (officially called Itsukushima) is already a noteworthy destination. It’s just a short ferry ride from Hiroshima, and a popular day trip for those traveling in the area. Cherry blossom season adds even more charm, as the sakura cover the mountain in splashes of pink. Head up to the peak of Mt. Misen to enjoy the view, or take a wonder along one of the walking trails.

Pro tip: Grab a Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass, which starts at ¥1,000 for a one-day pass, and get unlimited use of buses, streetscars, and the Miyajima ferry. Plus, you’ll recieve a coupon book with lots of discounts.

4. Kintaikyō Bridge

March 24 (first bloom) to April 1 (full bloom)
Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture

Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni. | Photo by Getty Images

Kintaikyō is considered one of the Three Great Bridges of Japan. And it’s easy to see why, with its five distinct arches stretching across the Nishiki River. It connects the main township of Iwakuni with Kikkō Park and Iwakuni Castle. In spring, the sakura trees along the river and in the park bloom, making for a stunning view. It’s easy to see why it’s the most popular cherry blossom viewing spot in this pocket of Japan.

5. Mount Yoshino

March 30 (first bloom) to April 6 (full bloom)
Yoshino, Nara Prefecture

Mt. Yoshino cherry blossoms
Mt Yoshino is covered in sakura. | Photo by

In Japan, Mt. Yoshino is considered the most famous sakura spot in the whole country. This mountain in Nara Prefecture is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home to 30,000 cherry trees. There are hiking trails and plenty of places to set up a picnic blanket for some mountainside hanami. We recommend the Hanayagura Observatory area for its stunning views.

Mt. Yoshino is a great day trip from Osaka or Nara.

6. Kenrokuen Garden

April 1 (first bloom) to April 6 (full bloom)
Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture

Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa
Cherry blossoms along the water. | Photo by Lily Crossley-Baxter

Located in the historic city of Kanazawa — known for its traditional atmosphere — Kenrokuen is a a stunning place to see sakura. Considered one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens, Kenrokuen is beautifully landscaped, with cherry trees along a lot of the streams. Keep in mind that this garden has an entry fee of ¥320.

When you’re finished admiring the garden, head next door to Kanazawa Castle, another of Kanazawa’s top sakura spots.

7. Takada Castle

April 3 (first bloom) to April 8 (full bloom)
Jōetsu, Niigata Prefecture

The inner moat of Takada Castle. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Takada Castle is an Edo Period (1603-1867) castle in the center of the city of Jōetsu. It’s known as one of the top three places in Japan to view sakura at night. And considering that it has a cherry blossom tunnel that is illuminated at night, are you surprised? Not to mention it also hosts a Cherry Blossom Festival (link in Japanese).

Takada Park, which surrounds the castle, has around 4,000 cherry trees and is a great spot for hanami. You can even rent a boat to paddle around the moat in. With all that, its easy to see why this made the cut as one of our top sakura spots in Japan.

8. Chūreitō Pagoda

April 3 (first bloom) to April 9 (full bloom)
Arakurayama Sengen Park, Yamanashi Prefecture

Possibly one of the most iconic places to see sakura. | Photo by Sean Pavone/ iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images.

Ah yes, the classic Japan photo — Mt. Fuji, a pagoda, and cherry blossoms. There’s no two ways about it, Chūreitō Pagoda is so iconic it draws crowds all year round. But if you want this shot, you need to be lucky. You’ll need perfect weather to get an unobscured view of Mt. Fuji and you’ll be fighting crowds all the way. It’s a steep walk up from the bottom, but there is a nice little photo platform so you can snap your pic and pretend no one else is there.

If you’d like to make a day trip from Tokyo, we recommend joining this special sakura-season-only tour. In addition to taking you to Chūreitō Pagoda, it includes tickets for the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway and a lunch of Hōtō noodles — a local speciality.

9. Hirosaki Castle Park

April 20 (first bloom) to April 25 (full bloom)
Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival yozakura
A famous night view at Hirosaki Park. | Photo by FENG CHIANG

Hirosaki Castle Park surrounds Hirosaki Castle, way up in Aomori Prefecture. The castle is one of only a few originals in Japan — in other words, this is a real castle and not a reconstruction.

In terms of cherry blossoms, the park has everything. There are over 2,500 trees, forming tunnels of sakura; there are even two trees whose branches make a heart shape when viewed from the right angle. And of course, there are the nightly illuminations that are part of the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival — one of the most photegenic spring festivals around.

10. Fort Goryōkaku

April 27 (first bloom) to May 2 (full bloom)
Hakodate, Hokkaidō

The view over Fort Goryōkaku from Goryōkaku Tower Observatory. | Photo by Getty Images

Our second-last spot is in Hakodate, on the northern island of Hokkaidō. Fort Goryōkaku is a star-shaped fort that is considered one of the best spots for cherry blossoms in Hokkaidō. Originally, it was a military defense fort, but it was converted to a public park in 1910. There are over 1,000 cherry trees planted along its moats.

To get the best views of the fort, head to the observatory atop Goryōkaku Tower.

Hakodate has a really interesting history, so if you’d like to learn more, we recommend joining a private tour. An English-speaking guide will take you on a customizable exploration of places like Fort Goryōkaku and the Hakodate Morning Market, while sharing fascinating stories.

11. Kawazu: For early blossoms

February 1 to 29 (Kawazu Cherry Festival)
Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture

Cherry blossoms along the river in Kawazu. | Photo by Getty Images

Kawazu is known for a special species of cherry blossom — Kawazu-zakura, named for the town actually — which blooms earlier than other varieties. They also last longer, which is how the town gets to celebrate the Kawazu Cherry Festival throughout February.

Another thing that sets Kawazu-zakura apart from the more common Somei-yoshino is the color, which is a deeper pink. During the festival, sections of trees around town will be illuminated for a few hours in the evening. This all helps make it one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan if you can’t visit during March or April.

The sakura trees are just a short walk from Kawazu Station, and they follow the river inland towards the town’s seven waterfalls. Kawazu is a seaside town on the Izu Peninsula, to the north of Shimoda, in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Frequently asked questions

What month is best for cherry blossoms in Japan in 2024?

In general, March and April are the best months for cherry blossoms in Japan. In 2024, the sakura season seems like it will follow a similar schedule to most other years, with blooms starting around mid-March, depending on the location.

When is the best time to travel to see sakura in Japan?

If you have your heart set on seeing cherry blossoms, we recommend planning to be in Japan during March or early April. Like most of our sakura-related advice though, this depends on where exactly in Japan you’re planning to travel.

How cold is Japan during cherry blossom season?

While cherry blossom season is during spring, it can be a little cool. On average, day-time temperatures are 20°C to 25°C but it can get colder in the evening. Make sure to add a light jacket to your packing list.

How long do cherry blossoms last?

In any particular area, cherry blossom season lasts for 1 to 2 weeks.

Is Japan crowded during cherry blossom season?

Yes, sakura season in Japan is the peak travel season for both domestic and international tourists.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in January 2023. Last updated: January 2024, by Maria Danuco.

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