Hanami, the act of flower viewing, is a traditional way to celebrate the coming of spring in Japan in which you picnic underneath the blossoming trees with your friends and family to enjoy the flowers. There are excellent places to enjoy hanami all over the country, and here are some places that are especially recommended.
1. Sumida Park (Tokyo)
Sumida Park, on the banks of the Sumida River that runs through Tokyo, is one very popular area for cherry blossoms within Tokyo. There are about 640 trees on the bank of the river, and then beyond that is the gorgeous sight of Tokyo Skytree, making it a popular area for photos. The best time to see the trees in this part is from the end of March t other beginning of April, and at the same time they have the Sumida Park Cherry Blossom Festival. Sumida Park is only about a three minute walk from Asakusa Station, so why not enjoy the park the same day you sightsee in Asakusa?
2. Hondoji (Chiba)
Hondoji in Matsudo, Chiba, is a temple that was built more than 700 years ago. In the spring, there are about 100 trees of weeping cherry and Yoshino cherry variations that loom and color the grounds in pink blossoms. The different kinds of cherry blossoms in bloom along with the baby breath shrubs beneath in white create a beautiful contrast that must be seen in person to be appreciated. Also, Hondoji is famous for having flowers blooming throughout all the seasons. At the beginning of June the Japanese iris and at the end of June the hydrangea are particularly popular. If you end up missing cherry blossom season, you should still check out this temple to see other seasonal blossoms.
3. Meguro River (Tokyo)
The Meguro River is a famous hanami spot in Tokyo. It's a magnificent sight where the cherry blossom trees are lined up for about 4km. It's not a big park so you can't sit and picnic beneath the blossoms, but it's perfect for a slow stroll enjoying the sight of the trees and the river. There are many fashionable cafes and shops along the street, so you can enjoy shopping and tea as well. It's especially recommended to come here at night. At night the trees are lit up, giving it a whimsical atmosphere that makes it a very different sight than during the day.
4. Kema Sakuranomiya Park (Osaka)
Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a riverside park that runs about 4.2km in Osaka's Kita-ku. There are about 4,800 trees running along the large river. The sight of the variations of the Yoshino cherry, mountain cherry, and Oshima cherry trees mixing together is lovely. Old buildings like the Mint Bureau and the Sempukan are on the other bank, so please take in the sight of the buildings against the trees as well. the flowers generally bloom between the end of March and the end of April. It's an easily-accessible park, only 15 minutes away by train from Osaka Station.
5. Tanematsuyama West Park (Okayama)
Tanematsuyama West Park in Kurashiki is a famous spot for cherry blossoms. It's on top of a small mountain that's 260m tall, so it's perfect for both cherry blossoms and a view. Since the entire park is covered in cherry blossoms and from above it looks like a sea of pink. The cherry blossoms bloom around mid-March to the end of April. There are playgrounds in the park so it's a perfect place to come and play with your kids especially when the trees are in full bloom.
Photo by: Okayama Prefectural Tourism Federation
6. Katsuyama Park (Fukuoka)
Katsuyama Park is home to the historical building that's become a symbol of Kita-Kyushu, Kokura Castle. Every year around 300 cherry blossom trees engulf the castle with flowers. When the flowers are in full bloom they hold the Kokura Castle Cherry Blossom Festival, and at night both the trees and the castle are lit up to create an enchanting sight that you can enjoy. Of course, during the day the sight of the castle and the trees is also a perfect place for a photo. The park grounds are particularly open and there is no entrance fee. Why not stop by for a casual visit?
7. Nitchusen Memorial Bike and Pedestrian Path (Fukushima)
The Nitchusen Memorial Bike and Pedestrian Path is lined with 1,000 weeping cherry trees that bloom beautifully between mid-April and early May. It's one of Fukushima's preeminent spots for hanami, so every year many people come for the purpose of seeing the flowers. They also have a steam location on exhibition, so that coupled with the sight of the trees in a row as a background makes for a lovely photo. It's perfect for people who love trains. It's about a minute walk away from JR Kitakata Station, so if you're traveling around the Tohoku area, it would be a great spot to add to your itinerary.
There are many places to enjoy cherry blossoms in Japan outside of these areas, so please enjoy hanami if you come to Japan in the spring.