30 January 2020 by Gary Stevens
Spring is a cherished time in Japan: the winter chill has said sayonara and parks across the country are awash with the colours of sakura – cherry blossom. Blossom-viewing celebrations (hanami) are a time-honoured custom, in which families gather on mountain slopes or in city parks to drink sake beneath the falling flowers.
Timing a trip to coincide with these fleeting pinks can be tricky, but the end of March and beginning of April should give you the best chance, as the blossoms move up the county in a wave. Blooming as early as February in Okinawa they slowly climb north, cresting in Tokyo and Kyoto in early April, finally rippling into northern Hokkaido in May. As it spreads, you’ll find that sakura cherry blossom products follow in its wake; there’s flavoured dumplings, crisps and even beer.
But, where are the best places to see this natural spectacular? Mt Yoshino-yama in Nara, with over 30,000 cherry trees, is widely considered the premier spot , but there are dozens more our specialists can recommend.
Matsumae Park in Hokkaido boasts 10,000 cherry trees in 250 varieties, and its Cherry Blossom Festival is especially beautiful. Tokyo’s Ueno Park is another great spot, as are the grounds of the Daigo-ji Temple on Mt Daigo, Kyoto, where the pinks have bloomed among the temple structures for hundreds of years.
Mt Yoshinoyama, Nara, Japan
Just remember when planning your pilgrimage, accommodation gets booked up well in advance at greatly increased rates. It's therefore vital to book as far ahead as possible, with flights available 11 months in advance and accommodation available even earlier still. Speak to our specialists now to start planning your 2021 visit.