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Okinawa Cherry Blossoms: Top 5 Places to Visit in 2024

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Okinawa sees the earliest cherry blossoms in Japan with the blooming peak around the end of January - early February. We introduce the sakura blooming forecast for 2024 and five of the prettiest cherry blossom viewing sites in Okinawa.

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See the Cherry Blossoms Early in Okinawa!

Okinawa Cherry Blossoms: Top 5 Places to Visit in 2024

Photo by Pixta

Okinawa Prefecture, located in southern Japan, is a famous resort destination visited by many. The year-round warm climate draws people to its beautiful beaches and marine activities.

The cherry blossoms in Okinawa are the first to bloom in Japan! The warm climate allows cherry blossom flowers to begin blooming in mid-January, which is the earliest in Japan.

Cherry blossoms in Okinawa are different from those on the main island. The Somei Yoshino cherry trees are commonly found on Japan's main island. However, Okinawa has a large percentage of Hikanzakura trees. In comparison to Yoshino cherry trees, the cherry blossom flowers of Hikanzakura trees have deeper shades of pink and bloom in a downward direction.

Read on to learn when to go to Okinawa to see the cherry blossoms, and five recommended places to visit where you can enjoy the blooms and festivals.

Okinawa Cherry Blossoms

Okinawa Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2024
1. Naha Sakura Festival
2. Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival
3. Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival
4. Nago Cherry Blossom Festival
5. Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival
Tips for Cherry Blossom Viewing in Okinawa

Okinawa Cherry Blossom Forecast for 2024

According to information published by the Japan Meteorological Agency, in 2024, the cherry blossoms in Okinawa started to bloom as follows:

    Area Start of bloom Blooming peak
    (estimated)
  • Ishigaki
  • January 18 February 10
  • Miyakojima
  • January 5 February 4
  • Naha
  • January 13 February 4

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency - 2024 Cherry Blossom Start of Bloom Forecast and Blooming Peak Forecast (retrieved on January 18, 2024)

Read on to learn five excellent locations for cherry blossom viewing in Okinawa.

1. Naha Sakura Festival: Lovely Riverside Cherry Blossoms

Okinawa Cherry Blossoms: Top 5 Places to Visit in 2024

Photo by Pixta
Naha Sakura Festival is a festival is held at Yogi Park, a 15-minute walk from Naha's International Street. There are about 400 cherry blossom trees in this park.

The highlight of the festival is the riverside cherry blossoms. Visitors can enjoy a stroll and view the flowers along the river. There are also a variety of events such as a folk song competition, hula dance performances, and food stalls. This is a festival fun for all ages!

Naha is located in northern Okinawa Prefecture. With the convenience of Naha Airport, the city is well-frequented with travelers. Make sure to visit Naha during the cherry blossom festival season!

Naha Sakura Festival 2024

Dates: February 14 - 18, 21 - 25

Yogi Park

Address: Okinawa, Naha, Yogi 1-1 Google Map
Access: 15-minute walk from Asato Station, Makishi Station (Yui Rail)

2. Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival: UNESCO World Heritage Site Cherry Blossoms

Okinawa Cherry Blossoms: Top 5 Places to Visit in 2024

Photo by Pixta

Okinawa Cherry Blossoms: Top 5 Places to Visit in 2024

Photo by Pixta

The Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Okinawa. The Ryukyu Kingdom ruled what is now present-day Okinawa between 1429 to 1879.

The kingdom played an important role in the economic and cultural exchange between Southeast Asia, China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, and remains a well-respected part of the culture today. It was registered as a heritage site in 2000.

The Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival is held annually at Nakijin Castle, one of the nine designated sites.

Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival

Picture courtesy of ©Nakijin Tourism Association

Cherry blossoms are not the only thing to look forward to! There will also be an opening ceremony and events, such as an Eisa (*1) dance, Nakijin Gusuku (*2) performance art shows, and a Ryuso (*3) experience. Attendees will also have the magical experience of seeing the illumination of the cherry blossoms and Nakijin Castle Ruins!

Inside Nakijin Castle Ruins is Nakijin Village, located at the Northern Motobu Peninsula in the northern part of the main island. The village is around 1 hour 30 minutes away from Naha by car. The area is close to sightseeing spots such as the famous Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Do make the trip for this special event!

*1: Eisa: Okinawa traditional Bon festival dance.
*2: Gusuku: Castle
*3: Ryuso: Traditional Okinawan clothing from the period of ruling under the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1429 to 1879

Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival 2024

Dates: January 20 - 28, 2024

Nakijin Castle

Address: Okinawa, Kunigami, Nakijin Village, Imadomari 5101Google Map
Access: From Naha Airport, board the Yanbaru Express Bus (2,100 yen) bound for Unten Port. Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes later, get off at Nakijin Castle Ruins Entrance and walk for 20 minutes
Fee: Adults 400 yen, Elementary/Middle/High School Students 300 yen, Free for Kindergarten Students and younger
Website: http://nakijinjoseki.jp/en

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3. Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival: Catch the Earliest Bloom in Japan

Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festiva

Picture courtesy of Motobu Town Commerce and Tourism Division
The Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in the Western Motobu Peninsula in Motobu Town, which is also home to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.

Mount Yae, which is 453 meters high, is home to over 7,000 cherry blossom trees.

Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festiva

Picture courtesy of Motobu Town Commerce and Tourism Division
The hike from the mountain's halfway point to its summit has an especially stunning cherry blossom view. It is also fun to view the cherry blossoms via rental car while taking a leisurely drive up.

During the cherry blossom festival, entertainment such as live folk songs and street performances will be held at Yaedake Sakuranomori Park.

Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival 2024

Dates: January 21 to February 4, 2024

Yaedake Sakuranomori Park

Address: Okinawa, Motobu, Namizato 921 Google Map
Access: From Nago Bus Terminal, board bus no. 70 bound for Shinzato Entrance or bus no. 76 bound for Sesoko (630 yen). Approximately 33 minutes later, get off at Yaedake Entrance
Website: http://www.town.motobu.okinawa.jp/shisetu/kouen

4. Nago Cherry Blossom Festival: Cherry Blossoms With a View

Nago Cherry Blossom Festival

Picture courtesy of Nago City
The Nago Cherry Blossom Festival is held at Nago Central Park, located in Nago City of northern Okinawa.

Nago Cherry Blossom Festivalり

Picture courtesy of Nago City
The park is one of Okinawa's best cherry blossom viewing spots and is known for its over 20,000 cherry blossom trees. Visitors can appreciate the contrast of the colors of the cherry blossoms and the sea from the observatory deck.

Okinawa Cherry Blossoms: Top 5 Places to Visit in 2024

Photo by Pixta

Events like Taiko dance performances take place on stage, and the streets of Nago City will also have parades and shows. This is a festival enjoyed by all visitors!

Nago Cherry Blossom Festival 2024

Dates: January 27 - 28, 2024

Nago Central Park

Address: Okinawa, Nago, Gusuku 2 - 4Google Map
Access: From Naha Airport, board the Yanbaru Express Bus (1,600 yen) bound for Unten Port. Around 1 hour 42 minutes later, get off at Nago City Hall and walk for 23 minutes
Website: https://www.pref.okinawa.jp/site/doboku/toshimono/koen/nagotyuoukouen.html (Japanese)

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5. Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival: Illuminated Cherry Blossoms

やえせ桜まつり

Picture courtesy of Yaese Town Government Office
The Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival is held at Yaese Park in Southern Okinawa Main Island, Yaese Town. The park is gorgeously lined with up to 500 cherry blossom trees.

Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival

Picture courtesy of Yaese Town Government Office
During the festival period, illuminations begin from 18:00 to 21:00. The atmosphere becomes romantic and offers a very different experience than during a daytime visit. A sweeping view of Yaese Town can also be seen from the observatory deck.

Other than Yaese Park, a variety of events will also be held at Yaese No Shi Chan Square. Locally produced products and traditional Okinawa performances and arts will be showcased, too. This draws a large number of travelers here. Yaese No Shi Chan Square is accessible from Yaese Park in 10 minutes by car. Shuttle bus services are also scheduled to operate.

Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival 2024

Dates: January 22 - February 4, 2024

Yaese Park

Address: Okinawa, Shimajiri, Yaesu, Tomori 1607 Google Map
Access: From Naha Bus Terminal, board bus no. 34 or bus no. 334 bound for Itoman Bus Terminal and approximately 40 minutes later, get off at Daini Tomori (580 yen) and walk for 10 minutes
Website: http://www.town.yaese.lg.jp

Tip for Cherry Blossom Viewing in Okinawa: Car Rental Information

Okinawa has fewer transportation facilities compared to the main island of Japan. Although Naha is well-equipped with public transportation facilities such as trains and buses, tourist destinations outside the city area are best accessed by car.

MATCHA has an exclusive 10% discount coupon for international visitors when renting a vehicle from Nippon Rent-A-Car, one of Japan's leading rental car companies.

There are numerous Nippon Rent-A-Car offices in Okinawa, especially near Naha Airport. Be sure to check it out if you're considering renting a car!

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FAQ

Where can you see cherry blossoms in Okinawa?

Cherry blossom viewing in Okinawa offers a unique experience due to the region's early blooming season. Spots like Nago Central Park and Nakijin Castle Ruins showcase blossoms from January to February, while locations such as Okinawa Comprehensive Athletic Park and the Mt. Yae Cherry Blossom Festival provide picturesque settings for hanami picnics amidst the early blooms. Yogi Park in Naha City also offers a serene cherry blossom viewing experience from late January to early February, making Okinawa a delightful and tropical destination for enjoying the beauty of sakura.

When should I go for cherry blossom viewing in Okinawa?

Cherry blossom viewing in Okinawa is best enjoyed from late January to early February, as the region's subtropical climate causes cherry blossoms to bloom earlier than in mainland Japan. During this period, visitors can witness the stunning pink and white blooms at their peak, creating a picturesque display. To plan your trip efficiently, checking local bloom reports and forecasts is recommended to ensure you visit during the optimal blooming period.

Is April a good time to visit Okinawa?

April is an excellent time to explore Okinawa, offering pleasant weather ideal for outdoor activities such as beach outings and hiking. While some cherry blossoms may still bloom early in the month, visitors can catch the tail end of the sakura season, adding a touch of natural beauty to their trip.
 
April also brings various spring festivals and cultural events, providing a chance to immerse in local traditions. With fewer crowds compared to peak tourist seasons, visitors can enjoy a more tranquil experience exploring the island's attractions and lush green landscapes. Additionally, the warm sea temperatures in April make it a perfect time for engaging in marine activities like snorkeling and diving, rounding out a well-rounded and delightful visit to Okinawa.

Which month is best to visit Okinawa?

For the best weather and an opportunity to see cherry blossoms, spring (March to May) is an ideal time to visit Okinawa. During the spring months, you can enjoy pleasant temperatures, blooming flora, and fewer crowds, providing a serene and vibrant island experience. Alternatively, autumn (September to November) presents clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and various festivals, offering a delightful backdrop for exploring Okinawa's natural beauty and cultural festivities. Whether you prefer the charm of cherry blossoms in spring or the cultural richness of autumn festivals, both seasons provide unique and captivating experiences in Okinawa.

What is Okinawa best known for?

Okinawa, famed for its breathtaking beaches and coral reefs, offers a culinary fusion called Ryukyuan cuisine and showcases a rich cultural heritage through traditional arts and historical sites like Shurijo Castle. The region's lush landscapes support ecotourism activities, while its Blue Zone recognition highlights long and healthy living practices. The presence of U.S. military bases adds a unique aspect to Okinawa's cultural fabric, emphasizing both local impacts and environmental concerns, making Okinawa a captivating blend of natural beauty, cultural depth, and historical significance.

How many days is enough in Okinawa?

The appropriate duration for a trip to Okinawa varies based on your itinerary and interests. A short trip of 2-4 days allows for key attractions on Okinawa Island like beaches and historical sites. A moderate trip of 5-7 days offers more flexibility to explore in depth, engage in activities such as snorkeling and hiking, and potentially visit neighboring islands.
 
For a comprehensive experience, an extended trip of 7 days or more enables a thorough exploration of Okinawa's diverse offerings, including nature reserves, cultural events, and outdoor activities. Tailor your visit based on preferred activities and island destinations to ensure a rewarding and enjoyable Okinawa experience regardless of trip length.

What is the most beautiful part of Okinawa?

Okinawa's diverse beauty shines through its enchanting regions. From the crystal-clear waters and coral reefs of the Kerama Islands to the picturesque beaches of Kouri Island and the unique rock formations at Cape Manzamo, each spot offers a distinct charm. Nature lovers are drawn to Iriomote Island's lush forests and rare wildlife, while the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium mesmerizes with its marine wonders. Yonaha Maehama Beach entices with its serene white sands and turquoise waters, and Shurijo Castle stands as a cultural gem in Naha. With its captivating landscapes, rich marine life, and cultural heritage, Okinawa provides a varied and captivating destination for travelers to explore and enjoy.

 

Enjoy Japan's Cherry Blossoms Early in 2024!

Cherry blossoms in Okinawa Prefecture are the earliest to show their blooms in Japan. They are a different variety from what is common on the main island and have a beauty of their own. Make sure to include Okinawa in your upcoming trip itineraries for cherry blossom viewing in 2024!


Main image by Pixta

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