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1. Goryokaku Fort [Hakodate, Hokkaido]
Star-shaped Goryokaku, Western-style citadel, is embraced with cherry blossoms from early to mid May. Over 1,600 cherry trees planted along its moats can be overlooked from the observation deck (90m-high) of neighboring Goryokaku Tower or admired from rental boats. Popular party menu is local specialty of Mongolian mutton barbecue in Hakodate. Night view is formidable but don’t forget to bring items to keep you warm as temperature ranges between 5 and 15 degrees.
HP: www.hakonavi.ne.jp/site/course1/goryokaku.html (Japanese Only)
Address: Goryokakucho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido (Google Map)
2. Hirosaki Castle [Hirosaki, Aomori]
Hirosaki Castle or Park filled with over 2,600 cherry trees of approximately 50 varieties is one of Japan’s best spots to enjoy cherry blossoms. Its well-maintained cherry trees including more than 300 over 100 years-old are known as Japan’s most beautiful and petals filling the moats is impressive. Sakura Festival in 2016 is to be held from April 23rd to May 5th but is subject to change. Be sure to bring jackets for night-out as the temperature often falls to under 10 degree during this period.
Address: 1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori (Google Map)
3. Ashino Park [Goshogawara, Aomori]
Situated along Lake Ashino, Ashino Park is also popular Hanami spot in Aomori. The main attraction is cherry blossom tunnel covering track in the vicinity of the closest station of the Tsugaru Railway, Ashino Koen. Walk along the lake side with over 1500 cherry trees in full bloom is pleasant. Best viewing period is from the late April to the early May.
HP: www.tcn-aomori.com/ (中文)
Address: Ashino, Kanagicho, Goshogawara-shi, Aomori (Google Map)
4. Kakunodate [Semboku, Akita]
The town of Kakunodate is renowned for its well-preserved former samurai district. In spring, weeping cherry trees, Shidarezakura, give pink shade to black walled residential area. The history of cherry trees dates back over 350 years and the oldest weeping tree is over 300 years old. The rivers nearby is also lined with several hundreds of Somei Yoshino tunnels, a popular cherry tree. The cherry blossom festival is to be held from April 20th to May 5th in 2016.
HP: kakunodate-kanko.jp/language/en/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Kakunodatecho, Semboku-shi, Akita (Google Map)
5. Kitakami Tenshochi [Kitakami, Iwate]
This park is considered as one of the three best cherry blossom spots in Tohoku region that features around 2 km long cherry blossom tunnels along Kitakami River. Over ten thousand cherry trees in bloom is spectacular. Cherry blossom festival is to be held from April 10th to May 5th in 2016 and carriage, sightseeing or ferry boat are in service during the period.
HP: www.japan-iwate.tw/ (中文)
Address: Tachibana , Kitakami-shi, Iwate (Google Map)
6. Miharu Takizakura [Tamura, Fukushima]
Over 1,000 years-old Shidarezakura or weeping tree is one of the three biggest cherry trees in Japan. 13.5m in height and 8.1m in girth tree looks gorgeous with blossoms on its countless dropping branches which reminds us of waterfall, Taki in Japanese. So many people come to give a glance at it that special bus from JR Miharu station and special JR train runs during its flowering season. The estimated flowering period in 2016 is from early to mid April.
HP: www.takizakura.com/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Sakurakubo, Taki, Miharumachi, Tamura-gun, Fukushima (Google Map)
7. Hanami-yama Park [Fukushima, Fukushima]
Hanami is not exclusive for cherry blossoms. Hanami-yama, the private property of a flower farmer is open to the public as the owner wishes to share the delight to see blossoms with others. His family has been kept planting various flowering trees including Tokaizakura and Somei Yoshino, kinds of cherry trees, for long. The hillside and surrounding area get colorful with varieties of flowers blooming one after another with a back drop of snow-crested Azuma mountain range. A special bus from JR Fukushima station runs in the flower season throughout April.
HP: www.f-kankou.jp/tw/ (中文)
Address: Hara, Watari, Fukushima-shi, Fukushima (Google Map)
8. Kenrokuen and Kanazawa Castle Park [Kanazawa, Ishikawa]
Why famous Kenrokuen Garden should not be beautiful with cherry blossoms? It gets pink with 420 cherry trees of over 40 varieties from early to late April. The garden is open to public for free for seven days after the opening of flowers, and night illumination give photogenic scenes as well. The estimated best viewing period is the early April in 2016.
HP: www.kanazawa-tourism.com.tw/ (中文)
Address: Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa (Google Map)
9. Takato Castle Ruins Park [Ina, Nagano]
Cherry trees in the grounds were originally replanted from the riding ground of former local clan. Over 1,500 Takato Higanzakura blossoms, a specific cherry tree in Takato, change the area into reddish pink. The estimated best period is early April in 2016. Special bus for 100yen runs from JR Takato station during the peak season. Snow-crested mountains and gorgeous cherry blossoms make a rare photogenic scene.
HP: takato-inacity.jp/h28/ (Japanese Only)
Address: Higashi Takato, Takatomachi, Ina-shi, Nagano (Google Map)
10. Takayama [Takayama, Gifu]
Takayama is considered as the great place for well-maintained traditional townscape but not for cherry blossoms. If you are to visit the town during the Spring Festival on 14th and 15th April and lucky to have cherry trees in bloom, it should be gorgeous. We cannot declare the peak period but it is usually mid to late April.
HP: www.hida.jp/chinese/ (中文)
Address: Takayama-shi, Gifu (Google Map)
11. Okazaki Koen Park [Okazaki, Aichi]
Ranked as the best spot to enjoy cherry blossoms lit up at night in Tokai region, Okazaki Park located within the Okazaki Castle grounds and the riverbed nearby are crowded with people and food stands during the peak period. Over 800 cherry tress bloom in the park and along the riverside. Sakura festival is to be held from April 1st to 15th in 2016. 15 minute-walk away from Meitetsu Higashi Okazaki station.
Address: 561, Koseicho, Okazaki-shi, Aichi (Google Map)
12. Yoshino-yama [Yoshino, Nara]
Are you interested in original way of Hanami? Then you should visit Yoshinoyama or Mt. Yoshino renowned for long for beautiful cherry blossoms covering a whole mountain. Approximately 30,000 cherry trees of wide varieties including Yamazakura, mountain cherry, blooms one after another for about a month. It takes 3 minutes walk from the closest Yoshinoyama station of Kintetsu Railway to the Yoshinoyama Ropeway station. Estimated flower-peak in 2016 is from early to mid April starting from the foot to the peak area. Be sure to bring warm clothes as temperatures range between 5 to 20 degrees in April.
Address: Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara (Google Map)
13. Himeji Castle [Himeji, Hyogo]
Himeji castle built in 1609 is a popular touristic destination especially after the major renovation work finished in 2015. Great white castle looks magnificent in combination with around 1,000 cherry trees in bloom and is crowded with tourists. If you’d like to enjoy Hanami in more relaxed atmosphere with less tourists, Kokoen Garden with a Japanese restaurant and a tea house and built beside the castle is recommended.
HP: www.himeji-kanko.jp/c2/ (中文)
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo (Google Map)
14. Tsuyama Castle [Okayama]
Kakuzan Park or the ruins of Tsuyama castle, 10 minute-walk from JR Tsuyama station, is one of the top cherry blossom sites in western Japan. Over 1,000 cherry trees spread on the ground of ruins situated on about 10m tall stone walls and they look like a sea of cherry blossoms if you look it down from the main enclosure. Flower Festival in 2016 is held between 1st to 5th April.
HP: www.okayama-japan.jp/tw/ (中文)
Address: 135 Yamashita, Tsuyama-shi, Okayama (Google Map)
15. Shiude-yama [Kagawa]
Shiudeyama or Mt. Shiude (352m in height) is a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of Seto Inland Sea. In the flowering season of cherry blossoms usually from late March to mid April, you can enjoy a scenic beauty of soft pink blossoms of about 1,000 cherry trees with the back drop of archipelago. It’s about 1 hour hike-up from Shiudeyama Tozanguchi bus stop and the closest station is JR Takuma station. Be prepared for nice picnic!
HP: www.mitoyo-kanko.com/?p=830 (Japanese Only)
Address: 451-1 Ohama Otsu, Takumacho, Mitoyo-shi, Kagawa (Google Map)
16. Miyajima [Miyajima, Hiroshima]
Miyajima in Hiroshima is renowned as one of the three greatest views in Japan. Approximately 1,900 cherry trees of different varieties bloom at and around Itsukushima shrine and Uguisu walking path connected to the ropeway station is also popular for the scenic view of cherry blossoms. The flowering season is usually from late March to early April. Don’t miss romantic illumination of cultural heritages at night!
HP: visit-miyajima-japan.com/zht/ (中文)
Address: Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima (Google Map)
17. Kintai-kyo Bridge [Iwakuni, Hiroshima]
Kintai-kyo, one of Japan’s three famous bridges representing Yamaguchi, is a massive wooden arch bridge (210m in length) made without any nails which. Beside the historical architecture, neighboring Kikko Koen park is also a popular Hanami spot for magnificent view with about 3000 Somei Yoshino in bloom. It takes 20 minute-bus-ride from Iwakuni station to Kintai-kyo bus stop. Flowering peak is from end of March to early April.
Address: Yokoyama, Iwakuni-shi, Yamaguchi (Google Map)
18. Saitobaru Burial Mounds [Miyazaki]
Pretty combination of clear colors is the main attraction of the historic site from late March to early April. Alongside pink cherry blossoms lined for about 800m, countless mustard rapeseed flowers, blue sky, or magnificent night illumination, it would be great to try various foods sold at food stands during flower festival (March 30th to April 7th in 2016). Motor vehicle is the best way of transportation though the car park surely gets crowded.
HP: www.saito-kanko.jp/tw/ (中文)
Address: Miyake Saitobaru, Saito-shi, Miyazaki (Google Map)
19. Isshingyo no Sakura [Minami Aso, Kumamoto]
Approximately 400 year-old grand cherry tree 14m in height and 7.35m in girth stands in countryside of Aso. Its round viewing path offers both panoramic view of the huge tree and Aso mountains. Legend has it said that this tree is planted as a condolence of the late feudal load. 15 minute-walk from the Minamiaso Railway Nakamatsu station.
HP: www.vill.minamiaso.lg.jp/ (Japanese Only)
Address: 3226-1 Nakamatsu, Minamiaso-mura, Kumamoto (Google Map)
20. Nakijin Castle Remains [Okinawa]
Okinawa offers different beauty of cherry blossoms with a different kind of cherry tree called Hikan Zakura which is deeper pink than Somei Yoshino popular in Japan main land. Nakijin Castle in Okinawa main land was the residence of the Ryukyuan Kingdom governor situated 15 mintute-walk from Nakijin Castle Entrance bus stop. How about strolling around ruins spread across the hill decorated with cherry blossoms between mid-January and early February?
HP: nakijinjo.jp/chinese/index.html (中文)
Address: 5101 Imadomari, Nakijin-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa (Google Map)
Tips to Enjoy Hanami
The most popular is Somei Yoshino, but there are many varieties of cherry trees in Japan in flower color, number of petals or form of trees. Thus, best time for vernal cherry blossoms varies from region to region and the weather condition is unsettled at this time of the year wherever you go. It’s better to check the temperature of your destination beforehand and prepare proper clothes to keep you warm especially when you are going to north part of Japan, mountainous areas or to go out for cherry blossoms lit up at night.
Some of major spots in city area often have food stands but if you are heading to hamlets or remoted area, why not make or buy lunch box for pleasant picnic in advance?