Japanese samurai castle with blooming cherry blossom trees.

The cherry blossom season is one of the most picturesque and sought after events in travel. Because of this, accommodations and tours are very exclusive. With Zicasso, a Japan cherry blossom tour is expertly arranged with your ideal experience in mind. From the densest blooms in Kyoto to mountain temples, your once-in-a-lifetime vacation starts here.

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Japan Cherry Blossom Tours

Japanese Cherry Blossom

A Japanese cherry blossom is the flower of a variety of trees that grows across the Japanese landscape, most notably in the species of the Prunus serrulata, which is also known as the Japanese cherry or sakura. The cherry blossom is so well regarded in Japanese culture that it has become the national flower of Japan. The blossoming flowers of the different species of cherry trees embody the eternal spring, a return to life, and the natural beauty of the world. The blossoms are celebrated annually in a tradition that dates back to the Nara period in the 8th century. Richer and more involved celebrations of the flower have taken the form of picnics and flower-viewing parties, which became popular between the late 8th and late 12th centuries among the aristocracy and Imperial Court before spreading to the likes of commoners and samurais. The cherry blossom has since become a symbol of the Japanese spirit often used in song, poetry, and other art. The government also encouraged its citizens during World War II to believe that the souls of downed soldiers were reincarnated as cherry blossoms.

The tradition of Hanami reflects the idea of enjoying transient beauty like the passing charm of flowers, which is most often used in regards to viewing the fleeting enchantment of the cherry blossoms each year. The popular viewing of the cherry blossoms across Japan often brings crowds of younger citizens and families to the countryside and city streets that are popular for hosting a variety of cherry tree species throughout the day. Some provinces use soft, electric lights or paper lanterns along the walkways for evening viewings. The special occasion of the Hanami is often accompanied by special drinks and dishes, such as a sweet dumpling that is known as Dango, the single portion meal that is referred to as bento, and sake.

Visiting Japan during cherry blossom season unveils a charming friendliness that is often hidden beneath the veneer of reserved, cultural integrity, turning the springtime across Japan into a majestic ambiance that is focused on simple pleasures and supportive joy. You will have a delightful view into a different side of Japan when the parks, gardens, and banks along narrow canals shimmer with fleeting white and pink blossoms, which indicate the arrival of warmer summer days. These gorgeous blossoms also add an ephemeral grace to the already tranquil ambiance of the temples, shrines, and gardens.

When to Plan & Book a Customized Cherry Blossom Tour

When booking your cherry blossom tour of Japan, you should plan and reserve your trip approximately 6 to 9 months in advance.

Cherry blossom season in Japan is a popular time for visitors not only for international travelers but also for Japanese tourists who are eager to view the dazzling display of natural beauty. Whether participating in the festivals or merely enjoying a private picnic under the blossoms in spring, you will want to book your trip sooner rather than later because hotels and transportation fill quickly with travelers who plan their trip early in order to guarantee their accommodations in popular areas that are known for the cherry blossoms. Zicasso often receives inquiries approximately three months in advance of a trip to Japan for the cherry blossom season. In the past, we have been able to accommodate guests who are eager to participate in Hanami. However, booking late or last minute can result in booked accommodations, full trains, or other modes of transportation in addition to a spike in prices.

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When is Japan's Cherry Blossom Season?

When the typically blooming starts

Japan cherry blossoms typically start blooming in in late January or early February in the Southern part of Japan across islands like as Okinawa. The season grows later along the Northern areas of Japan due to the weather in cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, which hosts blossoms around early April. The cherry trees of Hokkaido often bloom in May.In other words, the cherry blossom season begins in Japan around different intervals, depending on the location of the region: the south begins between January and February, mid-Japan is generally between March and April, and Northern Japan experiences the season in May.

When the blossoms are typically at full bloom

The cherry blossoms in Japan most commonly reach a full bloom between March and April during the peak of the spring season. The best opportunity for finding the white and pink flowers at their most prominent is often four to seven days after their peak bloom with some blossoms lasting up to 14 days under ideal weather conditions.

When the season typically ends

The cherry blossom season in Japan typically ends around late April. The earlier the cherry blossoms bloom during the season in Japan, the sooner the flowers will wilt and fall from the trees. Okinawa’s season in 2019 ended by the first week of February while Sapporo’s season in 2019 did not end until early May.

For further explanation or insight into the expected opening and closing dates of the cherry blossom season in Japan based on the city or district, you can use the following link, which will lead you to a website that is devoted to providing users with insights into the expected first blossom dates across Japan in addition to the best opportunities for viewing the cherry blossoms once the season has begun. Check out the Japan National Tourism Organization for more information on the projection of the future cherry blossom season in Japan and reflections on the past opening and closing dates of the season.

Best Time to Visit Japan for the Cherry Blossom Experience

The best time to visit Japan for cherry blossom season is between March and April, which encompasses the densest timeframe for blooming cherry blossoms across the country. While focusing on a broad timeline or space may seem better for viewing the cherry blossoms in Japan, you have a better chance of focusing on specific cities or regions in which you wish to travel based on the dates that the blossoms bloom in these cities. Focusing on specific cities will also provide you with the best chance of enjoying the festivals and partaking in Hanami.

6 Best Locations for the Cherry Blossom Experience

1. Mount Yoshino, Nara

The foothills of Mount Yoshino in Nara possess over 30,000 cherry trees, which flicker with a variety of colors that derive from the different species of tree. When visiting Mount Yoshino during cherry blossom season, you can find the illustrious flowers blooming above idyllic shrines, peaceful temples, and luscious parks in one of Japan’s most iconic destinations. Due to the change in elevation along the base and foothills of the mountain, the cherry trees do not all blossom at the same time, which allows visitors a broader range of opportunity for viewing the vibrant spring. The best time to visit Mount Yoshino for the cherry blossoms is between late March and early May.

2. Takata Castle Park, Nagano

The luster of Takata Castle Park in Nagano originates from the 1,500 pink Kohigan cherry trees that have become a quintessential element of the popular destination, earning the renowned title as one of the top three places in Japan to view the cherry blossoms during the season each year. Lively festivals provide fantastic ambiance beneath the flowering petals with stalls that host local cuisine and fun activities.  Lights are even strung throughout the trees for night viewings that are set beneath the looming presence of the Takata Castle ruins. The best time to visit Takata Castle Park for cherry blossoms is in April.

3. Chureito Pagoda, Fuji Five Lakes

The natural grandeur of Chureito Pagoda boasts exquisite views of Mount Fuji and is graced with the colorful, flowing petals of the cherry blossom trees during the season. The pagoda rises into the sky between the far-reaching branches of different cherry trees, and the early mornings often attract serious photographers who are eager to capture the blossoms, pagoda, and Mount Fuji in the early light. The month of April offers the best time to visit Chureito Pagoda during the cherry blossom season.

4. Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo

No matter the month of spring, Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo is a fantastic place for experiencing the cherry blossom season in Japan. The park is known for hosting over 1,000 cherry trees that bloom both early and late during the celebrated season, making it a fabulous destination for viewers who are visiting the heart of Tokyo. Amid the high-rise buildings and bustling streets, Shinjuku Gyoen offers a peaceful respite from the futuristic ambiance with fantastic opportunities to participate in Hanami throughout March and April in addition to the main viewing festival that takes place from late-February to early May.

5. Kawazu, Shizuoka

The charming Kawazu River runs through the city of Shizuoka with approximately 8,000 Kawazu-sakura cherry trees that decorate the banks for up to 2.5 miles. Locals help to celebrate the annual spring with a large festival that acts as one of the earliest cherry blossom festivals in Eastern Japan. Due to the festival and the nature of the specific trees, Kawazu attracts up to 1 million visitors each year during the season who are eager to view the vivid pink petals that dangle from the trees with hints of pink and white. The colorful blossoms of the cherry trees occur between mid-February to mid-March.

6. Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

The Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto remains a quiet and charming stone walkway throughout the year but brims to life during the cherry blossom season as the white and pink hues of the flower petals bloom above the tranquil canals. The path runs for half a mile along the route where the famous Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro walked when practicing meditation. The best time to wander along the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, during the cherry blossom season, is in early April when the trees erupt in spectacular colors.

Cherry Blossom Festivals & Events

Different cities and towns host their own particular cherry blossom festivals and events across Japan during the cherry blossom season. The locals celebrate with homecooked food, sake, and loved ones. The main attraction remains the spectacular flowers that blossom in the trees from February to May, especially during the Golden Week, which takes place between the end of April and the first week of May. This is when many cherry blossom trees between Tokyo and Kyoto bloom in concurrence with four consecutive Japanese holidays. The festivals consist of locals who sip sake and snack on homecooked cuisine in addition to the various food and souvenir stalls that offer regional specialties such as umibudo in Okinawa or freshwater eel over rice, which is known as unaju in Tokyo.

Visiting the Meguro River during the cherry blossom season allows you to wander along a number of local food stalls, cafes, restaurants, and bars throughout the day amid the 800 cherry trees that line nearly two miles of the riverbanks. The evening lighting events at Gongendo Park in the Kanto Region showcase the contrasting pink of the cherry blossoms and yellow rapeseed flowers alongside 100 specialty stalls.

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