The best time to visit Japan for the Cherry Blossom
Japan is well known for so many things: the food, beautiful temples, Sumo Wrestling to name just a few. However the stunning Sakura or Cherry Blossom is possibly what it is most famous for and the first question that most people ask is when is the best time to visit to see it in full bloom? The good news is that it lasts quite a long time and due to the geography of Japan there is a wide window for travel to be able to catch it. With islands ranging from tropical Okinawa in the south to mountainous Hokkaido in the north it is possible to see the blossom from late January through to late May.
Japan’s Cherry Blossom – January to February
If you are unable to travel in the spring but want to experience the blossom then you could head to Okinawa. The blossom here typically blooms from late-January through to early February. There is a festival held in Nago Central Park to celebrate and this is a fantastic place to view the Cherry Blossom with over 20,000 trees located within it. This year it was held on the last weekend in January and there are dance performances and parades taking place throughout the festival.
The southern island of Kyushu is another great choice if you are planning on visiting slightly earlier in the year or if you have been to Japan before. The dates of the Cherry Blossom can vary throughout the island meaning you can start off in the largest city, Fukuoka, and then travel south through the island and get to catch it again in the dramatic city of Kagoshima. Based on this year the first blooms were in the second half of March but full bloom could be seen in Kagoshima in the first week of April. Being further south the weather is typically warmer here than in Honshu.
Japan’s Cherry Blossom – March to April
The largest and most popular island of Honshu has some of the best places to see the Cherry Blossom. The ideal time to visit is similar to Kyushu, late-March through to mid-April. In 2020 full blossom in Tokyo was 22 March and Kyoto it was 30 March. As well as being the best time to see the Cherry Blossom the spring is also the best time to visit this part of Japan in general. There is so much to see on Honshu that you can spend your entire time here – be that 10 days or three weeks. The blossom can be seen throughout the island but there are a few places where it is especially impressive.
The city of Nara just outside Kyoto is a great place to visit in the spring. It is most famous for the deer that roam the parkland along with numerous temples and shrines. In March and April the trees turn a beautiful shade of pink as the Sakura arrives. Nara can easily be reached by train from both Kyoto and Osaka or you can stay here for a few nights. The island of Miyajima just off the coast from Hiroshima experienced full bloom on 22 March in 2020. The blossom is spectacular here with stunning views out across the Inland Sea. Our Classic Japan tour takes in all of these places and utlilises the world famous Shinkansen – more commonly known as the bullet train.
The small island of Shikoku experiences the cherry blossom at a similar time to Honshu so it is a perfect addition to a holiday to this part of Japan. The best time to see the full bloom is from end of March until the middle of April. It is a much less visited island so if you have the time to add it to your holiday you will find fewer crowds and certainly fewer western tourists. The best place to see the blossom on the island is the city of Matsuyama which is famed for its castle.
Japan’s Cherry Blossom – May
If you are unable to travel in March or April it is still possible to see the Cherry Blossom. The northern island of Hokkaido experiences full bloom in May and is both easily accessible and easy to explore independently. The best time to see the blossom is the first week of May and the best places include the main city of Sapporo and the beautiful countryside around the towns of Biei and Furano. If it is your second time to Japan you can concentrate solely on Hokkaido and hire a car to explore the whole island. Even if it is your first time to the country it is straightforward to link it with a tour of Honshu as there are direct trains from Tokyo to Hakodate as well as domestic flights between most cities on both islands.
Our top five places to see the Cherry Blossom in Japan
- Kyoto - Last week of March and first two weeks of April.
- Sapporo - First two weeks of May
- Tokyo - Last week of March and first two weeks of April.
- Fukuoka - Last two weeks of March.
- Nago City - Last week of January and first week of February.
We can tailor-make holidays to any of these destinations and give you time in some of the best places to enjoy the Cherry Blossom in full bloom.