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Top 5 Okinawa Cherry Blossom Spots To Visit In 2020

okinawa sakura

Translated by Amanda

Written by Kobayashi

Okinawa 2019.12.22 Bookmark

Okinawa is a famous resort destination with the earliest cherry blossoms in Japan. Flowers begin blooming in mid-January and are best viewed by the end of January. For 2020, we introduce 5 of the prettiest sakura viewing sites to visit which also have festivals!

See the Cherry Blossoms Early in Okinawa! 2020 Sakura Forecast

okinawa sakura

Okinawa Prefecture is located southwest of the island of Kyushu. Okinawa is a famous resort destination visited by many, and the year-round warm climate also draws people to its beautiful beaches and marine activities.

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

Continue reading to learn when to go to Okinawa to see the sakura, and five recommended places to visit where you can enjoy the blooms and festivals.

When to See the Blooms (Annual Averages)

The season for cherry blossoms in Naha City is as follows. In 2020, if you visit between late January and early February, you will likely get to see the gorgeous sakura. For reference, flowers began blooming in 2019 on January 10 and reached their peak on February 12.

Start of Bloom (Annual Average) January 18
Full Bloom (Annual Average) February 4

In 2019, the cherry blossoms started blooming on January 10 in Okinawa.

In this article, we will be introducing a list of cherry blossom festivals that are held during this season in Okinawa!

1. Naha Sakura Festival 2020: Lovely Riverside Cherry Blossoms

Naha Sakura Festival

Naha Sakura Festival 2020 is a festival is held at Yogi Park, a 15-minute walk from Naha's International Street.

There will be over 400 trees exhibiting their blooms at the festival, which takes place from February 19, 2020 to February 23, 2019.

Naha Sakura Festival

The highlight of the festival is the riverside cherry blossoms. Visitors can enjoy a stroll and viewing the flowers along the river. There will also be 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 City 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 2020

Duration: February 19, 2020 to February 23, 2020
Time: 10:00-19:00

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

Nakijin Gusuku Cherry Blossom Festival

Picture courtesy of ©Nakijin Tourism Association

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

As of December 2019, festival dates are not available yet for 2020, but the festival ran from January 26, 2019, to February 11, 2019. The event will likely be held between late January and early February again in 2020. Attendees will have the magical experience of seeing the illumination of the cherry blossoms and Nakijin Castle Ruins.

However, 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.

Inside Nakijin Castle Ruins is Nakijin Village, located at 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. Definitely 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 2020

Duration: late January to mid-February (2019 dates were January 26, 2019 to February 11)
Time: 8:00-21:00 (Last entry is at 20:30)

Nakijin Castle

Address: Okinawa, Kunigami, Nakijin Village, Imadomari 5101 Google 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: 2019 fees: Adults 400 yen, Elementary/Middle/High School Students 300 yen, Free for Kindergarten Students and younger
Website: http://nakijinjoseki.jp/en

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 Western Motobu Peninsula in Motobu Town, which is also home to Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.

Mt. Yae is 453 meters high with over 7,000 cherry blossoms.

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 view the cherry blossoms via rental car and take a leisurely drive up.

On January 18 and 19, 2020, entertainment such as live folk song and street performances will be held at Yaedake Sakuranomori Park.

Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

Duration: January 18, 2020, to February 2, 2020

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 Northern Okinawa, Nago City, from January 25, 2020 to January 26, 2020.

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 are able to appreciate the contrast of colours of the cherry blossoms and the sea from the observatory deck.

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

Nago Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

Duration: January 25, 2020 to January 26, 2020
Time: 13:00-20:30

Nago Central Park

Address: Okinawa, Nago, Gusuku 2-4 Google 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 only)

5. 14th Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival: Illuminated Cherry Blossoms

やえせ桜まつり

Picture courtesy of Yaese Town Government Office
The 14th 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 blossoms 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 Yaesu Park, a variety of events will also be held at Yaesu 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. Yaesu No Shi Chan Square is accessible from Yaesu Park in 10 minutes by car. Shuttle bus services are also scheduled to operate.

Yaese Cherry Blossom Festival 2020

Duration: January 24, 2020 to February 11, 2020 (Illumination), February 2, 2020 (Stage Events)
Time: 18:00-21:00 (Illumination), 9:00-18:00 (Stage Events)

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 at Daini Tomori (580 yen) and walk for 10 minutes
Website: http://www.town.yaese.lg.jp

Rent A Car For Cherry Blossom Viewing In Okinawa

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.

Car rental services are available at Naha Airport and Naha City.

Enjoy Japan's Cherry Blossoms Early in 2020!

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 2020!

Main image by Pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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