Translated by Hilary Keyes
Spring Has Arrived: MATCHA's Sakura Guide
Written by Misaki Tachibana
Everything you need to know about sakura and hanami in Japan - all in one convenient place!
Spring is a time of new life, of new chances, and of new beginnings. And in Japan, it is also the time when the symbolic flower of Japan, the sakura, or cherry blossom, blooms. These short-lived but beautiful blossoms have transfixed people from time immemorial, and in this article we will provide you with all of MATCHA’s sakura, and hanami related articles. Think of this as your guide to getting the most out of Japan’s stunning spring.
Cherry Blossoms and Spring in Japan
The official flower of the spring, and one of the symbols of Japan, the Japanese have loved the cherry blossom since the Heian era. But why?
Although they may appear quite similar to the untrained eye, there are numerous subtle differences between cherry blossoms, especially when considering the main five types that you are likely to see during your spring travels in Japan.
Here are our 44 best cherry blossom viewing spots, all in one convenient article! Other than these great locations, helpful tips to make sure that your hanami experience is the absolute best possible can be found in this article.
The weather and what to expect of the season are very important things to know before traveling anywhere in the world - if you know how to pack, you can plan for any occasion, which is vital when visiting another country. Here you will find the average weather and conditions for spring in Japan.
There are many different incredible spring festivals and events to take part in in Japan, and here we have put together a list of some of the most popular, most interesting and most beautiful events that visitors to Japan won't want to miss.
A special spring event, the students of the Fukagawa Odori Japanese Dance School, put on stunning seasonal dance performances that highlight the beauty of the season and instruct visitors in appreciating traditional Japanese arts.
Cherry blossoming viewing parties have been popular in Japan since the Heian era, and here we have provided all the relevant information you will need in order to have your very own hanami event.
Hanami - How To Enjoy Cherry Blossom Viewing
15 Items To Make Your Hanami Great!
Finding The Perfect Spot: Saving A Hanami Site
Mind Your Manners: Proper Hanami Etiquette
Clean Up The Right Way: Dealing With Trash After A Hanami
Sakura Spots by Region
Yozakura, or night cherry blossom viewing, is another activity that you can take part in during the spring, as many sakura spots have special illuminations only during this brief season. Come and see the differences between sakura by day and night at these fantastic places.
The Tokyo and Kanto Region
If you are a fan of Masaharu Fukuyama, then you will probably have heard of Sakurazaka before, but did you know that it was a real place? It is! This amazing and romantic spot is a must see for his fans and lovers of cherry blossoms.
Ueno Park is known as a great place to see the cherry blossoms, but this golden shrine within the park is one of the best places to see the collaboration of the seasonal blossoms and Japanese history come to life.
My personal favorite - Chidorigafuchi is, in my opinion, the best place to enjoy the cherry blossoms in all of Tokyo. The stunning trees, the moat... it is a fantastical landscape that will have you captivated by the sakura in no time.
Another hidden spot, the sakura along the Kanda riverside will take you back to the Japan of the early 20th century, with nostalgic tram lines, shops, buildings and more plus brilliant cherry trees along this riverside.
The Sumida river is perhaps best known for its summer fireworks festival, however there are numerous sakura spots located up and down the length of the river and in its surrounding area. Here you can enjoy the combination of historical sights dating back to the Edo era, alongside ultra-modern structures like Tokyo SkyTree and more.
There are plenty of interesting cherry blossom spots in Tokyo overall, some hidden, and some immediately recognizable. Find 6 of the best here!
Here are 5 more popular sakura spots in Tokyo, including at some gardens and other spots you might not have heard of before.
The Kanto region overall has many fantastic cherry blossoms locations, each having different types of trees and their own unique festivals and events to enjoy. If you want to take some day trips to see the flowers, this is the article for you!
The sakura season starts later in the northern Tohoku region of Japan, and as a result, you can enjoy the cherry blossoms much later in the spring here than anywhere else in Japan. Doesn't that scene in the photo look fascinating? Where do you think it is?
The northernmost part of Japan, Hokkaido is thought of by many to be a wintery place, with not much to offer during other seasons, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Hokkaido has its own spring charms, and plenty to see that will have you rethinking its status as a snowy place.
Kanazawa, home to the stunning castle in the photo above, is one of the most popular places in Western Japan to view the cherry blossoms. Thousands of visitors from across Japan and around the world come here each year to take in the sights of these pink flowers in this historical castle town.
If you are a fan of Japanese history, then visiting Kyoto must be high on your list. We recommend heading there in the spring, in order to see the old streets of Gion covered in cherryssblossoms - you won't soon forget it!
Weeping cherry trees, or shidarezakura, are incredibly beautiful on their own, but the sight of them against historical temples and shrines can leave you speechless. Visit Okazaki in Kyoto in order to fully understand this feeling.
Much like Kanto, Kansai has its own fair share of fabulous cherry blossom spots, many of which also have their own yozakura events as well. These are must-sees for hanami and for the amazing photographs they inspire.
Kyushu is another history rich region where you can see many charming castles surrounded by sunny sakura by day and beautifully illuminated cherry trees at night.
These cherry blossom viewing spots in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions are fantastical - they almost seem like sights that have come straight out of a fairy tale! You won't soon forget a trip to any one of these places, I guarantee it.
Sakura Flavored Delights
What would the spring be without sakura flavored treats? Sakura and green tea soft serve ice cream, stunning Japanese traditional sweets and more can be found all across Japan during the spring.
If you want to take some of the flavors of the season home with you, then picking up some of these sakura flavored sweets at your nearest convenience store is the best option. Just stop in and see what you can find!