Matsumoto castle
Nagano, Town Walk

Where to find the Best Cherry Blossoms in Japan

For 3 months of the year, Japan comes to life in a wave of pale pink colors in the form of cherry blossoms. Japan is a vertically long country, so we can enjoy cherry blossom season from March to May somewhere in Japan. Though the exact dates are changeable, I’m starting to build a collection of favorite spots to see the beautiful flowers come to bloom!

Castle Town Odawara

On my first visit to see cherry blossoms in the beginning of spring, I rode a super express  train (shinkansen) from Tokyo to Odawara for 30 minutes. Odawara is a warmer area than Tokyo which means cherry blossoms are blooming earlier, starting from the middle of March.

The city of Odawara doesn’t offer much by way of must see attractions, as the whole charm of the city is purely the picturesque town itself, so be sure to take a stroll from Odawara Castle to the Miyuki no hama beach to begin discovering.

Sinnjuku Gyoen

If you’re planning to visit Tokyo to enjoy the cherry blossoms, the most suitable place to come is Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden which is located in the most popular area in Tokyo. Once you arrive here, you’ll soon find that various kinds of cherry blossoms make up about 1000 trees.

In Japan, people used to enjoy plum flowers during ancient times and the custom has gradually changed to enjoy cherry blossoms. During the Edo era, the early modern period, cherry blossoms Hanami became maccification. In Tokyo, there are many places to visit for cherry blossom hanami. Ueno, Asakusa and Nakameguro would be also so popular. 

Koishikawa Botanical Gardens

If you prefer a smaller crowd you might love Koishikawa Botanical Gardens which are one of the oldest botanical gardens administered by Tokyo University. The garden is located in the center of Tokyo with plentiful kinds of plants. This is also my favorite picnic space without alcohol in Tokyo.

Train town Mooka

Mooka city is situated in the South East part of Tochigi Prefecture and it is known as one of the  photographer’s best locations to take photos of steam locomotive trains. The steam locomotive train makes Mooka one of the most photogenic towns, though there is much less to experience by way of activities. Mooka is thus best visited if you are traveling through Mashiko by car as a shortstop. Mashiko is home to earthenware and many antique stores. Canola flowers are also blooming in the same season and the best part of taking photos is to capture the pink and yellow contrasts in your frame. 

Old town Obuse

Obuse is located in the north-east of Nagano Prefecture and cherry blossoms start to bloom from mid April to the end of May. Obuse was developed as a transportation hub holding huge markets and it dates back to the 17th century. These circumstances threw up wealthy merchants and farmers to flourish in Obuse’s life and culture. Despite the age of this town you can expect perfectly manicured sidewalks, impressive gardens and overall pride in the appearance of the surroundings. 

My favorite place to see cherry blossoms is Chikuma River Fureai Park, a riverside park with 600 cherry blossoms along about 4 km. The best season is the beginning of May. If you miss the beginning of May, it’s still worth going to see the white pink petal carpet. The River Chikuma flows through the westside of town, and is characterized by its role as a transportation hub and traditionally sincere and sturdy presence in the town. 

Castle town Matsumoto

Located just one-hour drive from Nagano’s capital city, Matsumoto is known as a castle town and is one of the most popular destinations for cherry blossoms. If you plan to visit Matsumoto, there are endless choices on where to stay, what to do, and how to spend your time. Matsumoto is always in season when you  visit. Cherry blossom goes without saying, fresh green leaves season, autumn leaves season and white snow season. The best season to see cherry blossoms is April and you can enjoy the view of Matsumoto Castle with cherry blossoms.

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1 Comment

  1. I loved picnicking cherry blossom season when I lived there!

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