Imagine having a picnic under a blooming sakura tree in Japan. As u lie on your mat, cherry blossoms rain around you like magical pink precipitation. Blissful, isn’t it? Well, you can stop daydreaming and start planning an unforgettable trip to the Land of the Rising Sun with this guide.

When to Travel to Japan

The exact hanami or cherry blossom viewing dates differ each year and vary from city to City. You have to monitor the news and get the latest updates from the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

A rule of thumb, the period between late March and early April Is generally a good time to see sakura trees in full bloom. Thus, we recommend you plan your holiday around the Good Friday long weekend that begins on 30 March 2018.

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Himeji Castle, Kobe

Himeji Castle by Wei-Te Wong (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Also known as the “White Egret Castle” of Kobe, Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that survived the horrors of earthquakes, fire bombings, civil war and World War II. While crowded, the trip there is worth it, and having a picnic at the park behind the castle is recommended.

Kobe Sakura Forecast

  • Blooming starts: 1 April 2018
  • Estimated best viewing dates: 7-13 April 2018
Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen Sakura by Marufish (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the largest and most popular parks in Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen offers a welcoming retreat from the busy city centre. Locals are of fond of buying take-away from the nearby Takashimaya store before walking over from Shinjuku Station to enjoy a picnic there.

Tokyo Sakura Forecast

  • Blooming starts: 21 March 2018
  • Estimated best viewing dates: 29 March to 4 April 2018
Kenrokuen, Kanazawa

DSC00594 by Kyle Hasegawa (CC BY 2.0)

Deemed one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscaped gardens, Kenrokuen was formerly owned by a feudal lord. It’s situated just next to Kanazawa Castle and boasts 20 varieties of sakura trees. During the sakura season, entry to this garden is free and the whole terrain is illuminated at night.

Kanazawa Sakura Forecast

  • Blooming starts: 5 April 2018
  • Estimated best viewing dates: 8-14 April 2018
The Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Along the Path of Philosophy by Chi (in Oz) (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Philosopher’s Path is a lovely stoned walkway that  measures about 2km long. It begins at  the Temple of the Silver Pavilion and ends at Nanzenji, a Zen Buddhist temple. Hundreds of Sakura trees line the canal next to it, all bursting with colour in early April every Spring.

Kyoto Sakura Forecast

  • Blooming starts: 31 March 2018
  • Estimated best viewing dates: 5-11 April 2018

Note: All forecasts were provided by Japan Rail Pass


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Arman Shah

A former travel writer with fond memories of solo adventures in Southeast Asia, Arman is now Founder of The Everyday People. He's also the co-host of Channel Empathy, a podcast about the marginalised in Singapore.