[2019 Edition] Sakura in Japan: Forecast Maps, Top Cherry Blossom Spots, and More Await!
The cherry blossom forecast map for 2019 is finally here! We've compiled the latest info on when these beautiful blossoms will bloom, and have topped it off with our 2019 picks for the best places to view sakura in this handy dandy guide. Don't know when to come to Japan to see sakura? Not sure where to visit once you're here? This guide has all that useful info... and more!
Feb 15 2019 (Apr 16 2019)
The 2019 Cherry Blossom Forecast Map is Here!
Each sakura tree tends to only be in full bloom for a limited time, and the time each tree blooms depends on the location and climate. Therefore, it is best to do prior research before you visit in order to ensure you are at the right place at the right time to take part in this springtime tradition! Our editing team at tsunagu Japan put together this guide to help you do just that!
*Note that these times are subject to change.
A Quick Explanation on "Hanami"
Every spring in Japan, millions of people flock to parks, riverbanks, and mountains in order to catch a glimpse at stunning cherry blossoms, which are only in full bloom for 1 to 2 weeks out of the whole year. This is a custom called "hanami," which literally means "flower viewing." In modern-day Japan, most people celebrate by gathering their friends and family to have a lively picnic beneath the sakura.
Read more about the custom of hanami and what manners you should adhere to when doing it in Japan:
Our 2019 Picks for the Top Places to View Sakura
There's no use knowing when the cherry blossoms will bloom if you don't know where you should go! We assembled our team of expert travellers and came up with a giant list of places that you should visit for sakura in 2019.
If you already know which prefecture(s) you want to visit, use the shortcuts below:
Goryokaku Park (Hakodate, Hokkaido)
Goryokaku Park is famous as the location of ruins of the star-shaped Goryokaku Fort. Every spring around the end of April, the whole park bursts into the the pink and white colors of around 1,600 cherry blossom trees of varying types.
The cherry blossom trees are planted around the perimeter of the star-shaped fort, so it almost looks like the fort itself is made from flowers! You can get a stunning overhead view of the park by climbing going to the observation deck of Goryokaku Tower (admission fee: 900 yen), or you can rent a boat (2,000 yen for two people for 50 minutes) and get a view of the park from the moat.
Maruyama Park (Sapporo, Hokkaido)
Located on the eastern edge of the Maruyama primeval forest, Maruyama Park has been known as one of the premier hanami spots in Sapporo for over a century. The park is full of many Sapporo landmarks, such as Hokkaido Shrine and the Maruyama Zoo, as well as several leisure and sports facilities, such as tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and more.
There are around 160 cherry blossom trees located in the park, and the ground beneath them becomes crowded with picnicking visitors during hanami season. The secret to this park's popularity lies in its convenient location, as it is only 5 minutes away from central Sapporo via subway!
Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki, Aomori)
The vast Hirosaki Park is home to approximately 2,600 cherry trees of 52 varieties, including Japan's oldest Somei-yoshino variety. With Hirosaki Castle as the backdrop, you can take some photos that ooze with the essence of Japan.
The cherry blossoms are lit up at night, creating a fantastic scenery. The dynamic contrast of the illuminated Hirosaki Castle and the cherry blossoms at night is not to be missed!
There is a festival held annually to coincide with the blooming of the cherry blossoms, and it is set to take place from April 20 - May 6, 2019.
Takamatsu Park (Morioka, Iwate)
Famous as a cherry blossom viewing spot, cherry trees are planted around the lake at Takamatsu Park. There is a foot path measuring approximately 1.4km in length that winds around the pond, so you can take a refreshing walk while taking in the gorgeous spring scenery.
The view from the southeast shore of the pond, by the Siberian internment peace memorial statue, is said to be particularly beautiful, as you can admire the cherry blossoms against the backdrop of Mount Iwate. Additionally, lanterns light up the night during the cherry blossom festival, whose light reflect on the surface of the water, creating an extraordinary sight.
Nishi Park (Sendai, Miyagi)
Nishi Park is the oldest park in Sendai, and is known as the leading cherry blossom viewing spot of the city. Many people gather here for hanami, so make sure to check it out if you're looking for a lively spot for viewing cherry blossoms in Sendai!
There are about 200 cherry trees in the park. The lanterns hanging between the trees create an old-style Japanese atmosphere.
Meguro River (Meguro, Tokyo)
Meguro is one of the most well-known areas to view cherry blossoms in Tokyo. There are many popular cherry blossom spots within Meguro, but a particularly famous view is along the Meguro River, which stretches roughly 8km through the city into the Tokyo Bay. Approximately 800 cherry blossom trees line both sides of the bank, so it makes for a great springtime stroll through the city's pink streets.
In the evening, the trees near Naka-Meguro Station are lit up with lanterns. The red and white reflections of the lanterns in the river, combined with the illuminated cherry blossom trees, create a stunning nighttime view.
There are also cherry blossom festivals held nearby, and many food stands appear along the river selling various snacks and pink sparkling wine. You might even be lucky enough to get a bowl of shiruko (sweet red bean soup) for free near Meguro Station!
Ueno Park (Ueno, Tokyo)manganite/Flickr
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo, Ueno Park is among the city’s best spots to see cherry blossoms. Its reputation as the top hanami spot dates back to the Edo period (1603 – 1868) and still holds true to this day, as you’ll see swarms of people with tarps, food, and drinks under their arms head to the park every year to celebrate the season under the pink flowers.
There are 800 cherry blossom trees along just the central promenade, with 1000 lanterns decorating the entire park, which are lit up in the evening. You can expect the park to be crowded with friends and families enjoying hanami both during the day and night!
It’s a little less crowded near the pond, where you can ride on the swan boats for a relaxing and different kind of flower-viewing experience. There are several other attractions such as the museums and the zoo within the park, too, so you’ll be busy with a lot of activities here!
Gongendo Park (Satte, Saitama)
Throughout the year, many different types of flowers blossom in Gongendo Park, with cherry blossoms being one of them. The park has a tunnel of 1000 cherry blossom trees that bloom across a 1km span with a large field of rape blossoms next to it. The contrast of the pink cherry blossoms and the yellow rape blossoms is truly a magnificent sight to see!
During the cherry blossom festival, roughly 100 food stands line the roads, and the promenade from the row of cherry blossom trees to Sotono Bridge is lit up after dusk until 10 pm. Since many people come from all over Japan to see the brilliant scenery, there's often a lot of traffic on the roads, so it's recommended that you come by public transportation.
Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi)
At Kawaguchiko, you can capture the ultimate Japanese photo - Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms. The northern shore of Lake Kawaguchi is said to be the best spot for capturing a photo of the cherry blossoms with the lake and Mount Fuji in the background.
Taking a walk along the walking trail around the lake is also a great way to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Furthermore, the cherry blossoms are lit up at night in some parts, while cherry blossom festival is held near Amphi Hall of Kawaguchiko Stellar Theater.
Nagoya Castle (Nagoya, Aichi)
Enjoy cherry blossom viewing at Nagoya Castle, the symbol of Nagoya. The fantastic scenery composed of the castle and the cherry blossoms is what draws people here, year after year.
There are around 1,000 cherry trees of 10 varieties here. Gyoiko in particular is an unusual species of cherry trees with green flowers, and blooms comparatively late, from mid April to late April, while there are also some more common varieties within the grounds, such as Somei-yoshino and Shidare-zakura (weeping cherry tree). The trees are lit up at night during the peak season (late March to early April).
Garyu-zakura (Takayama, Gifu)
"Garyu" literally translates to "reclining dragon" and this 1,100 year old cherry tree was given this name because it is said it looks like a reclining dragon. Measuring 20m in height, and with branches extending 30m across from north to south, it is designated by the national government as a Natural Monument.
Although it appears like there are two trunks, this is actually one single tree. The second trunk sprouted from a branch that became too heavy and fell at some point. The part of the tree that was connecting the 2 sections, known as the "trunk" of the dragon, was destroyed by a typhoon in 1959. Over the years, the tree has received numerous other damages from typhoons as well as poor quality soil, which weakened the root, but it has been maintained with great care, and still stands today.
Nara Park (Nara, Nara)
Nara Park - home to the Nara National Museum, historic temples like Todai-ji, and more. Though autumn is the best time to visit the park, there's something magical about visiting during the sakura season. This is when around 1,700 sakura trees fully bloom, painting the whole park a stunningly pretty pink.
You can't miss out on seeing the deer of Nara Park graze below sakura trees! Sakura and deer make a surprisingly lovely picture that you won't be able to get out of your head. Take a picture, or do one better by purchasing some snacks* and feeding the deer underneath all the gorgeous pale pink sakura blossoms.
*Only purchase the rice crackers sold at official shops in the park. A portion of the proceeds are used in deer protection efforts.
Maruyama Park (Kyoto, Kyoto)
There are two Maruyama Parks in Japan - one in Hokkaido and another in Kyoto. The one in Kyoto is famous for its shidare-zakura, which is called "Gion's Weeping Cherry Tree". When sakura season rolls around, people will come from all over Japan (and even overseas!) just to catch a glimpse of this stunning old tree and its blossoms.
Including the big old shidare-zakura, there are around 680 sakura trees on the park's premises, which all get lit up at night during the peak of the sakura season. Around the same time, the park will actually host a night festival where you can chomp down on traditional Japanese festival foods underneath the beautiful sakura blossoms. Night or day, this park has a lot to offer!
Mint Museum (Osaka, Osaka)
Right next to this museum is a road lined with sakura trees that's only open to the public for one week out of the whole year. This road spans 560m and contains around 350 sakura trees of 130 varieties. The picture above shows a faraway glimpse of this road, but what it doesn't show are the throngs of people that come to visit it every year. It's the 8th most popular sakura viewing spot in all of Japan!
The road takes on a new appearance at night, with gorgeously designed lamp posts turning the sakura into a magical deep red. Perfect for a romantic night stroll, no?
Kikko Park (Iwakuni, Yamaguchi)
Located close to the famous wooden Kintai Bridge, Kikko Park was selected as one of Japan's top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots. There are 18 types of cherry blossom trees scattered throughout the park, and over 3000 trees total, which you can gaze at with the backdrop of the park's fountains in the background.
The park has also retained much of its history, which can be seen with the Mekatake samurai residence, the many trees planted during the Edo Period, Kikko shrine, and Kintai Bridge. The samurai residence and bridge were designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan and one of Japan's top three bridges respectively, so there's so much to see along with the cherry blossoms.
Tsuyama Castle (Kakuzan Park) (Tsuyama, Okayama)
The ruins of Tsuyama Castle, which can be found in Kakuzan Park, is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in western Japan, and was also listed in Japan's top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots. You'll have a spectacular view of the 10m stone wall and the 1,000 cherry trees planted around the park grounds.
The castle's turret went under renovation in 2004 to commemorate its 400th anniversary, so you'll be able to get a glance at the traditional architecture. The park is open until 10:00 pm during the cherry blossom festival, with a fee of 300 yen for high school students and above.
Senkoji Park (Onomichi, Hiroshima)Cheng Yang, Chen/Flickr
Located halfway up the 144.2m Mt. Senkoji is the symbol of Onomichi City, Senkoji Park. There are over 10,000 cherry trees blooming on the mountain, which you can reach by hiking or via a 3-minute ride on a cable car.
Besides its stunning scenery, Onomichi is known for its splendid view of the Seto Inland Sea and its many hills and temples. It's also a city loved by many scholars, making it known as a city of movies and literature. Along the Path of Literature, you'll see various stones depicting works of famous authors who were inspired by the city's beautiful views.Takahisa Kamo/Flickr
The observation deck is a popular date spot that was declared a "Lover's Sanctuary", and the night view from here was even listed in Japan's top 100 night view sites. From here, you'll get a full panoramic view of the city, the Seto Inland Sea, and the park.
Ritsurin Garden (Takamatsu, Kagawa)Wei-Te Wong/Flickr
This gorgeous 400-year-old garden is designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the Japanese government and has also won three stars on the Michelin Green Guide Japan. While it might be most famous for its autumn scenery, it also has beautiful spring scenery to offer, consisting of 230 sakura trees.
230 sakura trees might not seem like a lot compared to some other spots in this article, but they are all precisely placed in a way that complements the lovely design of the garden. For example, take the two trees in the image above. They may not look special in the day, but at night, their lit-up forms present an amazing contrast with the other greenery. Truly something that has to be seen!
Kochi Park (Kochi, Kochi)
Kochi Castle is one of Japan's top 100 castles, and it has a castletower from which you can get a good view of the 225 sakura trees below. You can also see what a pretty picture it makes among the sakura blossoms if you stand outside and look up at it.
You'll know that it's sakura season in the Kochi area when you see these lamp posts. They light up the whole area at night, presenting a completely different kind of sakura scenery than the daytime. There's not that many places in Kochi with such lovely sakura views, so don't miss out on it if you decide to visit the area during sakura season!
Maizuru Park (Fukuoka, Fukuoka)
Fukuoka Castle was also called Maizuru Castle, and now its ruins make up the central area of Fukuoka's Maizuru Park. This park is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Fukuoka, and that popularity rises even further during hanami season, as the many cherry blossom trees that are planted among the ruins turn beautifully pink.
Every spring, the Fukuoka Sakura Festival takes places, in which the sakura of Maizuru park are lit up with beautiful illuminations. On top of that, temporary food stalls are set up within the park, so you can dine on some delicious Japanese festival food while admiring the stunning view of the sakura blossoms all lit up.
Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto, Kumamoto)
Kumamoto Castle is known as one of the top 3 most impressive castles in all of Japan, so it is a worthy place to visit during any time of the year. However, it becomes even more beautiful during the springtime when the roughly 800 sakura trees on the premises are in full bloom.
Kumamoto Castle itself is still undergoing reconstruction after the damage incurred during the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, but that just gives you all the more reason to visit and give some much-needed support to this recovering area! Plus, the sakura trees themselves were unaffected, so you can still have a fun time viewing the scenery. Note that the trees are lit up during the night, so you may even want to stay for several hours in order to see both the daytime view and the nighttime view in one trip.
Beppu Park (Beppu, Oita)
If just one type of spring flower isn't enough for you, then head to Beppu Park in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, to see the stunning and unique view of sakura alongside red tulips!
Located just a 10-minute walk from Beppu Station, this park is a must-visit for anyone who is traveling to Beppu, a city known mostly for its many onsen (hot springs). In addition to gorgeous sakura trees and tulips, the park is also home to a verdant bamboo grove, making it a great place to go for a serene stroll away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
After reading through this article, you should have a solid understanding of hanami culture in Japan and an idea of what places you want to visit and when. Feel free to print out this article and use it as a reference when you're actually traveling around Japan this spring!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.