Back in early April, I set off to Japan to experience the beautiful cherry blossoms I often hear so much clamoring about. It was my first time seeing the sakura trees at their peak – and it was so breathtaking and beautiful beyond belief. If you’ve ever dreamt about visiting Japan in the spring time, I would recommend it without hesitation. Be sure to bookmark and use my guide below for the best and most gorgeous spots for cherry blossoms in Japan!
For starters, there’s no set time for when the cherry blossoms will bloom. Some years they arrive early and other years later. Your best bet is to set sail between late March and early April. The downside to this is that airfare tickets are through the roof! But I do think it’s worth every cent! So, when you’re ready to jump the gun, bookmark these spots for cherry blossoms in Japan!
Known to be one of the most iconic tourist spots in Japan is Kyoto, which I’ve come to see why. The traditional architecture is so charming and unlike the bustling nature of Tokyo. You come here for its history and culture where you can experience the ancient temples and shrines which take you back in time.
Path to Yasaka-No-To Pagoda
My first recommendation for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto is to walk the path to Yasaka-No-To Pagoda, a tall wooden pagoda that’s surrounded by many historical old homes. What’s unique about this spot is that the streets are directed towards the pagoda so there plenty of photo opps from from below and above. The blossoming trees are stunning against the structure in the distance.
Next, the Philosopher’s Path (image left) in Kyoto follows a canal that’s lined with hundreds of cherry blossom trees. After blooming, the passage is bursting with color from the pink flowers and the red bridge. Those two elements sitting along the stone pathway is insanely beautiful!
Stroll along Shirakawa River of Gion
Gion is no doubt a tourist trap, but I promise that you’ll 100% enjoy the stroll along the Shirakawa River. With the trees blooming against the wooden houses, you’ll be in complete awe (see two images below). And if you look hard enough, you’ll even spot the area where the Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed (anyone else remember that movie?) – and possibly a geisha or two. The upside to this busy area is that there’s no shortage of food! The dessert shops are unparalleled in taste and appearance.
Now moving onto Osaka, which is probably about an hour ride away from Kyoto, we have the Osaka Castle. My time here was very limited so I didn’t get to do much exploring, but I have to say, this castle is a destination not to be missed! There are about 4,000 cherry trees planted around it, which looks to be exploding when they’re in bloom! The photo above looks like a painting, but it’s real! At night, the castle lights up, making the moment even more magical.
For a less historical but equally beautiful location, be sure to check out the Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida, which sits across from the snowy caps of Mount Fuji. The 5-story structure is surrounded by the natural beauty of Japan – and is even more stunning when the cherry blossoms blooming and out. I felt like it was floating amid the trees! Note that this is another spot that gets packed with crowds fast, so plan to get there early to take advantage of good photo spots.
And finally, my recommended spots for cherry blossoms in Japan wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Tokyo! Although Tokyo is burgeoning with denizens and travelers during this season, there’s great reason why. The picturesque lakes, festivals, beautiful line up of trees, and tranquil rivers are too good to avoid! Even the most spontaneous passage ways are a pure sight to see. But to start, you should really plan to check out Chidorigafuchi Park for the surreal boat rides
Boating in Chidorigafuchi
I caution you to expect long lines and a pricey ticket, but it will be the BEST cherry blossom viewing you’ll never have! And if you get to catch the strong winds that force petals off the trees, the moment becomes even more spectacular! It was really beautiful beyond words and felt like a magical fairytale that was worth every bit of the wait and costly ride.
Have you been to Japan – would love to know if you have other recommendations for cherry blossom spotting!instagrammable spotstravel guide