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Japan’s first cherry blossom

Cherry blossoms at night in Tokyo
Image courtesy: ©segawa7/Shutterstock

With the newly arrived spring season in Japan, the first sakura (cherry) trees have begun to burst into bloom. It is not unnatural to see people flocking to parks and squares for hanami, cherry-blossom viewing, which lasts for just a week or two.

There are a few recognised spots for the best hanami experience.

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Yoshino in Kansai is Japan’s most famous cherry-blossom destination, and for a few days in early to mid-April, the blossoms of thousands of cherry trees form a floral carpet gradually ascending the mountainsides.

Kyoto has numerous fantastic places to see the blossoms. But it’s safe to say that the most iconic hanami spot in the city is Maruyama-kōen.

Like Kyoto, Tokyo has many popular cherry blossom spots. Even if it’s not the most historic or the most picturesque, Yoyogi-kōen is just the most fun place to experience the blossoms.

Arakurayama Sengen-kōen makes for a unique hanami experience. The view from the Chureitō Pagoda here is the ultimate sakura money shot: in one frame you get a classic five-storey pagoda, with curving eaves and vermilion accents, a frothy sea of cherry blossoms beneath it, and on the horizon, triumphant Mt Fuji still draped in snow.

Hirosaki-kōen is a huge green space, nearly 50 hectares, covering the grounds of what used to be the castle Hirosaki-jō.