Best Time to Visit Japan for Cherry Blossom Viewing
Each month, Japan has incredible treats for the tourist because every season seems to unleash more beauty than the last. Sakura, the time when cherry blossom trees bloom is a special experience for all who behold. The cherry blossom tree has a special place in Japanese culture, representing the fragility of life. To the locals, it is a constant reminder that life is really beautiful but so short. The cherry blossom tree blooms for a short time in the year but with brilliant force. When the trees are in full bloom, locals hold a flower watching party they call hanami. There are several varieties of these trees and while most produce lovely pink flowers, some actually produce cherries. These trees grow by their thousands around Japan, attracting people from all over the world.
The end of winter to mid-spring is the blooming time and therefore a perfect chance for blossom seekers to gather. The action starts in south Japan before going up towards Osaka and other famous Japanese cities. In late April and early May, you the blossoms flourish in Hokkaido island. Cherry blossom trees bring people together in different cities around the country to enjoy natural beauty, food, and music
The Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms
The Japanese capital is a draw for tourists all year round especially those coming for Sakura. The best places to witness this phenomenon in the city include;
Nakameguro in Ebisu District
In Nakameguro, a 3.8km stretch of Cherry blossom trees lines the Meguro River. Undoubtedly, people come in their numbers to view the 800+ cherry trees in bloom. The best time to visit this idyllic location is in April when the show is in full motion. In honor of Sakura, the locals here have an annual festival where restaurants serve tantalizing food, champagne, and strawberries. When the cherry trees blossom, it is time for everyone in the district to make merry under the pale pink canopy. In the evening, the trees are lit up for an even dreamier experience.
Ueno Park, Taito District
You will catch the cherry blossom in this location from mid-March to early April at Ueno Park. This is the ideal location to see the cherry blossoms with hundreds of picnics, parties, and activities happening under thousands of cherry trees. Walking the Park’s main pathways is a great way to experience Sakura. The section of tees running through Shinobazu pond is particularly delightful.
In this location lies the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of the best places for cherry blossom viewing. Here stand late and early blooming cherry trees that make for a great experience. It is a beautiful place to visit away from the busy Tokyo city center. It is less crowded and you can spend hours exploring the French formal, English and Japanese traditional landscapes. To enter the park, visitors must pay a small admission fee of JPY 200.
Other Places to See Cherry Blossoms around Japan.
Nara Park in Nara prefecture is a good place to see the cherry trees in blossom especially if you visit in early April. It is always a magical experience with the Todaiji Temple in the background and the gentle breeze carrying the soft petals all around you. Tame deer roam freely in the park, making a wonderful experience even more delightful.
The best time to visit Kumamoto city is in late March to early April. During this time, people take to the Kumamoto castle in Kyushu Island for spectacular sights. There are cherry blossom trees around and inside the castle that makes for a great show all day. During the mid-day young people can be seen exploring the park while a more adult audience checks in during evening hours for cherry blossom viewing or hanami as the locals call it. Picnics are the best way to enjoy your time among the trees in bloom.
Clearly, the mid-March to late April are the best times to visit Japan for Hanami. Environmental factors may alter the blossom time but going by constants, you are guaranteed to see the pale pink foliage if you visit during these times.
Tips for Visiting Japan for Cherry Blossom Viewing
1. Book accommodation in advance
Being such a busy time, you need to arrange for accommodation well in advance. Visitor numbers increase every year so a last minute booking wouldn’t be practical. There are several resources to help you find accommodation in various Japanese cities during the busy cherry blossom season.
2. Live in the moment
It is easy to be caught up in taking photos and recording footage to share on social media. However, do not forget to pause a while to become one with nature and truly enjoy hanami. Do not become one of those contributing to over tourism in Japan but instead live the moment and let yourself experience true beauty.
3. Get a visa
Before making travel plans to Japan, visit visasjapan.com to know how you can legally enter the country. If you need a eVisa for Japan, it is necessary to submit an application at the Japanese consulate in their country. Residents of exempt countries are allowed to stay in the country for a defined period without a visa. Citizens of the USA, Canada and EU member countries can enter and stay in Japan for 90 days without a visa. People from countries like UK, Germany, and Austria can apply to have their stay extended up to 6 months while those from the UAE can stay a month in Japan without a visa.
From visajapan.com you can learn about different types of visas including long and short term ones. The authorities plan to launch the eVisa system soon to simplify the process and boost visitor numbers before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With the online visa, you will not need to go to the consulate to apply. Starting in May 2019, Chinese nationals will be able to apply online for an eVisa for Japan.