For centuries the cherry blossom tree has been at the center of Japanese art and literature inspiring some of the nation’s most beloved paintings and poetry. More than just a tree, cherry blossom is viewed as a symbol of fleeting beauty, due to the fact that it only blooms for a limited time once a year.
Today, people travel across the globe in the hope of catching a glimpse of the famous cherry blossom which surrounds Japan’s most renowned temples and parks. Since the Heian Period in 794, viewing the cherry blossom tree has always been a local tradition and it continues to offer some of the most romantic views in the world.
When to See the Cherry Blossom IN JAPAN
Cherry Blossom in Japan only occurs in spring when the trees reach full bloom. This spectacular display usually happens in early April and only lasts two weeks – one week before reaching full bloom and one week after. The cherry blossom bloom depends entirely on the climate and the region and so it can be quite difficult to arrive at the correct moment. In order to make sure that you have the best chance of experiencing the cherry blossom season, take a look at the following information.
Cherry Blossom in Kyoto
This historical city happens to be one of the most popular viewing destinations in Japan due to the large number of cherry blossom trees which are planted in the city’s beautiful landmarks. The trees in Kyoto line almost every street, meaning that when it is timed right, you are guaranteed to experience the bloom at its very best. In Kyoto the blossom generally begins to open in the final week of March and reaches full bloom in the first week of April.
Cherry Blossom in Kobe, Nara, Osaka
The cities of Nara, Kobe and Osaka are all in very close proximity to Kyoto and follow the same timings. They see slightly less tourists around this time and can easily be reached within a couple of hours from Kyoto.
Cherry Blossom in Sapporo
For those who do not make the display in time, then Sapporo is the perfect choice. Located at the northern tip of Japan, Sapporo’s cold mountainous climate means that cherry blossom doesn’t usually appear here until the first week of May.
Cherry Blossom in Tokyo
Despite being covered in towering skyscrapers, Tokyo is also home to many beautiful gardens. Cherry Blossom usually reaches full bloom in the very first days of April. Again, the city sees many foreign visitors at this time of year so aim to visit temples and shrines as early as possible to avoid queues.
One of the most picturesque places in Tokyo during the full bloom is Chidorigafuchi Moat, located beside the Imperial Palace. Here visitors can absorb the beauty of the cherry blossom trees whilst relaxing on a boat trip along the water.
How to follow Cherry Blossom in Japan
If you really wish to see the cherry blossom in full bloom and do not have any date restrictions, then the best way to find out when to visit is to use a cherry blossom forecast. This forecast indicates when and where a tree has begun to bloom. As the bloom only lasts for a short period, this option is probably best if you are already in Japan and are happy to chase the bloom. This can be an exciting way to find the cherry blossom, whilst uncovering some lesser known destinations.
Traveling during Cherry Blossom Season in Japan
During the two weeks that the cherry blossom is visible, Japan experiences a record number of visitors. Hotels in popular cities such as Kyoto and surrounding areas become fully booked very early on. This period is also a very expensive time to visit, particularly in the Kyoto area. The best advice we can offer is to book at least six months in advance to ensure that you secure the most affordable hotels.
As this is such a busy season, train tickets can also be difficult to find on the day of travel. Always try to book tickets in advance or visit the train station as early in the morning as possible.