Sakura Fever: Japan’s Most Scenic Cherry Blossom Spots

A guide on where to go for the ultimate hanami experience in Japan
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As Japan’s weather starts to warm in March, a festive atmosphere sweeps in as petals of the world famous sakura flowers descend from northern Hokkaido all the way to southern Okinawa. Japan is the mecca of cherry blossoms and witnessing the sakura season can be an enchanting experience, even for seasoned travellers. Here are the best places in Japan for the full cherry blossom viewing experience, otherwise known as hanami.

This article is contributed by the travel experts at leading luxury booking portal,


Ueno Park, Tokyo
Located in central Tokyo, Ueno Park holds one of the city’s biggest outdoor hanami parties. It is said to be Japan’s most popular place to take your mat, pick a spot, and enjoy the magnificent rows of the trees that lit up at night. The park also houses many museums and shrines, perfect for a day-long activity with your loved ones.

When to visit: Late March to late April

How to get there: Five-minute walk from JR Ueno Station (Yamanote Line)

Where to stay: Spread across the top six floors of Otemachi Tower near the Imperial Gardens, Aman Tokyo is luxury urban living at its finest. The five-star establishment is every design buff’s dream come true: mod-traditional meets minimalism, complete with washi paper and stone finishings, a zen garden, and volcanic-rock bathtubs in each of the guest rooms.

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Philosopher's Path, Kyoto
A short stroll away from Ginkaku-ji Temple, you will find yourself a two-kilometer walk called the Philosopher’s Path. The soft pink petals of the sakura float on the path’s canals, painting a beautiful picture of the spring season. Follow the canal and you will also come across Nanzenji Temple, another spacious garden and one of the most important temples in Japan.

When to visit: Late March to late April

How to get there: Yasaka-Maruyama, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto / Sakyo-ku, Kyoto. 15-minute ride by bus from JR Kyoto Station.

Where to stay: It doesn’t get more authentic than Minoya-cho: a traditional machiya townhouse built in early 1900’s. Boasting floor-to-ceiling views of Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward, an Onsen-style Cypress bathtub, and minimalist decor, a night spent in Minoya-cho is like a step back in time in luxurious settings.

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Goryokaku Fort Park, Hakodate City, Hokkaido
Once the centre of action in the war between the last remnants of the Tokugawa clan and the new Meiji government, this star-shaped, Western-style citadel is now a park boasting stunningly beautiful cherry blossoms. Over 1,000 cherry blossom trees can be found here, making it one of the best and most scenic in Hokkaido.

When to visit: Late April to early May

How to get there: From Hakodate Station, take the tram to Goryokaku Koen Mae and walk another ten minutes.

Where to stay: Far from your traditional Japanese-style inn, Esashi Ryotei Kuki is a feat in modern architecture, thanks to its striking, almost-austere facade. Designed to reflect Eshashi’s strong fishing history, this coastal seven-room ryokan overlooks the Sea of Japan and is said to resemble a wooden boat resting on a riverbed.

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Chureito Pagoda, Fuji Five Lakes
What better way to see sakura than by taking a day trip to Mount Fuji? Part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine, the Chureito is a five-storey pagoda situated on the mountainside overlooking Fujiyoshida City and Mount Fuji. You’ll have to climb 400 steps to reach the top, but the spectacular view at the top is worth every step. Make your trip extra special by coming in mid-April for the equally famous pink moss or the Fuji Shibazakura Festival.

When to visit: Mid April

How to get there: Ten-minute walk from Shimo-Yoshida Station along the Fujikyu Railway Line.

Where to stay: Fuji Onsenji Yumedono is a name synonymous to Mount Fuji and five-star luxury living. Its name translates to “dream palace” in Japanese and judging by its luxurious interiors, the moniker is quite fitting. Beautiful ryokan-style guest rooms – each outfitted with its own private open-air onsen; superb dining options served to your room: what more could you ask for?

Nara Park, Nara
If you’re an animal lover (especially deer), this is the perfect place for you. Spread out over 660 hectares of large lush and green landscape, Nara Park is home to almost a thousand deer who are considered holy messengers of the Kasuga-taisha Shrine. Fret not: these creatures are tame and will approach visitors for food. The vast historical park also houses several scenic spots including To-do Tower, Kofuku-ji Temple Area, and Isuein Garden.

When to visit: Late March to late April

How to get there: Ten-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.

Where to stay: When it comes to history and heritage in Nara, Nara Hotel is an obvious choice. Built in 1909 on the hills of Nara Park, this hotel offers panoramic views of the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji Temple and the Pagoda of Kofuku-ji Temple. History buffs will certainly appreciate its Momoyama period-style of architecture. Guests can choose to stay in the older wing of the hotel – with high ceilings and antique light fixtures – or the newer wing, which offers large, modern rooms with verandas overlooking the old town.

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