[Updated: 6 March 2019]
So you’re planning your trip to Japan and feeling all sorts of excitement at the thought of basking in the serene Spring atmosphere. Your mind is swimming with the gorgeous pictures and views you’ll get. But now, you’re probably wondering what else you’d need to know to make sure you get the best of the spectacular cherry blossom season 🌸
Fret not, because we have the ultimate guide for you to fully enjoy your time there! Here are 8 tips you can follow for a fantastic and fun-filled cherry blossom chase in Japan 🤗
P.S. Japan during cherry blossom season can be expensive. To save on your trip expenses, get your trip essentials in advance from Klook. Plus, you get to skip the lines too 😎 For Singaporean travellers, enjoy $36* off with the promo code <CHERRY18>! For Malaysian travellers, you’ll get RM116* off your purchases with the promo code <CHERRY58> and not forgetting our Indonesian friends, use the code <CHERRY188> for RP376RB* off your purchases! We’re sorry, but this promotion has ended 🙁
1. Plan your itinerary based on the best spots, viewing periods and festivals.
Japan consists of 8 regions and 47 prefectures – that’s a huge variety to choose from! To get the best views and experiences, make sure you prioritize your dream spots by checking the blossoming periods here. 2019’s blossoming periods are expecting to arrive a little earlier from late-March onwards so double-check the forecasts before you book your trip!
Spring is also a wonderful opportunity to experience Japan’s festivals! Some famous festivals with picture-perfect views include the Sakura Festival in Fukuoka’s Tateyama Park (21-22 April) and the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival in Aomori (23 April – 5 May). Make sure to match your travel dates with the festivals of your choice 😉
P.S. For an accurate forecast, you can download the Japan Meteorological Corporation’s Sakura Navi app available on both iOS and Android systems. The app isn’t free and retails for about USD $3.60 but if you’re a serious cherry blossom chaser we think it’s worth the money! It tracks blooming periods at over 1000 spots across the country and will even notify you if you’re near any spots! 🤩
2. Book everything in advance!
Now that you know when you’ll be in Japan, book your flight ASAP! Flight ticket prices will rise significantly as people all over the world flock to Japan to witness the sakura’s beauty. Make sure you secure your tickets before the prices peak! You can use apps such as Jetradar and Hopper to compare offers across different airlines.
Much like flight prices, accommodation increases in price and drops rapidly in availability as the cherry blossom period draws nearer. This is especially so for accommodations near halal eateries, so remember to do your research and book quickly!
Credit: Drop Inn Osaka on Facebook
And as with all things natural, even official forecasts can be inaccurate. Just to be safe, it is advisable to book for longer periods of stay so that you don’t miss out on the best blooming dates. In total, you have approximately a window of 3 months (March to May) to enjoy the cherry blossom season in all of Japan!
#HHWT Tip: As you’ll be travelling around by trains in Japan pretty frequently, save queueing time by purchasing the ICOCA IC card in advance. If you’re planning to travel across cities, it’ll also benefit you to purchase a JR Pass as it allows unlimited rides on the shinkansen (bullet train), JR lines and buses for 7, 14 or 21 days. Make sure you use our promo code <TRAVELHHWT> to get $5 off your first purchase on Klook! 😉
3. Check the weather constantly.
Speaking of forecasts, it is important to ensure you’re aware of the weather before and while you’re in Japan. Spring weather tends to fluctuate, so it can get from pleasant and sunny in one moment to chilly and rainy the next. Always have an umbrella with you!
The key to dressing comfortably in Spring is to wear layers of clothing which you can easily keep in a bag when it gets warmer throughout the day. Bring along cardigans and scarves, in addition to sunglasses, hats, and half-face masks! Put on your best and most comfy shoes too as you’re guaranteed to walk a lot while admiring the flowing petals around you 😍
Besides the Weather app already in your phone, you can also go to websites such as Accuweather and the Japan Meteorological Agency. For this reason and to navigate easily, you’ll find it useful to book a portable wi-fi in advance! After all, your friends probably need live updates of your cherry blossom chase 😝
4. Take awe-inspiring pictures!
With wi-fi on the go, you’re probably always thinking of ways to amp up your Instagram with your cherry blossom shots. The best option to avoid random strangers photobombing your pictures is to go early. Yes, it’s not crazy for you to be out at 7AM – according to several experienced photographers, this is indeed the prime time to avoid crowds!
Having a camera tripod and controller is useful to take solo or group shots without missing anyone in the picture. You also have the liberty of deciding your desired angle and backdrop!
Credit: @mut_mut90 on Instagram
Credit: @ouchi_eriko on Instagram
Most importantly, do not miss out on the night views of cherry blossoms! While you might think it won’t be worthwhile, the gorgeous petals and sakura trees come alive with illuminations at night, giving you a stunning perspective you never expected 😍
5. Learn the Japanese Hanami culture.
Cherry blossom season is popular among tourists and locals alike for picnics under the beautiful trees. The act of cherry blossom-viewing is known as hanami in Japan and is in fact a culture with its own set of etiquettes to take note of.
Credit: Nikita on Flickr
When in Rome, do as the Romans do and thus when in Japan, experience hanami with your loved ones too! Like us tourists, the locals like to admire the trees in a merry but calming atmosphere, so it is best to avoid being too loud and rowdy while you’re having your hanami.
If you have Japanese friends, they’re more than likely to invite you to a hanami picnic! As alcohol is a common favourite beverage amongst the locals while they bask in the Spring atmosphere, you might have to politely decline their offers for drinks and non-halal food. But don’t worry! The Japanese are considerate and understanding people, and these phrases should help you avoid any awkward situations:
- Sorry: ごめんなさい (Go-men-na-sai)
- I can’t drink alcohol: 私はお酒が飲みません (Watashi-wa osake ga nomimasen)
- I can’t eat pork: 私は豚肉が食べられません (Watashi-wa buta niku ga taberaremasen)
6. Bring your Hanami essentials!
So you’ve decided you want to experience a hanami picnic! Now you need to know what to pack for the most authentic and enjoyable experience.
Credit: @sharinwonderland on Instagram
We recommend bringing your own picnic mat as it will be difficult to find in Japan itself. Everyone there would have snagged up the mats in preparation for their own hanami! You might also want to consider wearing pants as it is a more comfortable option for sitting on a mat all day. Otherwise, a blanket or cloth will do to cover and keep your legs warm!
Besides entertainment essentials such as speakers and card games, have your own trash bags to dispose your garbage (and make sure to separate your trash!). Rubbish bins are hard to locate in Japan, but the streets are still impeccably clean so don’t be the one to change that 😝
Good news – you don’t have to envy the Japanese and their cute bento boxes because you can also order Halal bento boxes of your own while in Tokyo! Taste & Discover Japan sources halal, vegetarian, and vegan bentos from different stores and delivers them right to you. Some of the bentos are even marked as self-heating, so that it won’t get cold while you’re at a hanami!
Credit: @turkishcuisine.tokyo on Instagram
If you’re in Tokyo and looking to prepare your own bento boxes, you can get halal-certified ingredients from supermarkets such as Gyomu Super, foreign marts in Shin-Okubo and online from Al-Flah Online Shop. And then get your cute bento boxes and utensil sets for as low as 108YEN (SGD$1.30) in Japan’s famous 100 YEN shops and Daiso!
Credit: @ocharinko on Instagram
P.S. If you’re looking to tuck into some authentic halal Japanese fare afterwards, these are some of the eateries near Tokyo’s most stunning cherry blossom spots!
7. Stock up on limited edition merchandise!
Credit:@starbucks_j on Instagram
Cherry blossom season calls for pretty merchandise galore! Brands start sporting the gorgeous pink reminiscent of sakura and these make awesome gifts for friends, if not for yourself. Be sure to look out for Starbucks’ new designs for their mugs and tumblers, Coca-Cola’s unique cherry blossom plastic wrapping, and many more.
8. Explore other parts of Japan
Just because you’re on your cherry blossom chase, the fresh outdoors and parks aren’t a reason to skip out on other extraordinary attractions in Japan! Have a full experience of Japan by exploring all that the beautiful country has to offer.
Similarly, you cannot miss out on Universal Studios Japan when in Osaka, famed for its detailed replica of Hogwarts and the wizarding world of Harry Potter.
Japan’s picturesque castles are also a feast for the eyes and for the history buffs! Osaka Castle is one of those you definitely cannot miss – its surrounding grounds and parks are lined by cherry blossom trees, so both the outdoors and indoors will be a delight for the explorer in you.
#HHWT Tips: Get the Osaka Amazing Pass if you’re planning to visit the castle and Osaka’s many other spectacular attractions! The pass is a cost-efficient way of riding Osaka’s subway, tramway, and bus system and provides entry into 30 spectacular sites, such as the HEP Five Ferris Wheel and Umeda Sky Garden Observatory.
P.S Save queueing time by purchasing your transportation and attraction passes in advance on Klook! Best of all, you’ll get to enjoy $36* off your travel essentials for your Japan, Korea, Taiwan or China trip with the promo code <CHERRY18>! Indonesian travellers, use the code <CHERRY188> for RP376RB off your purchases and for Malaysian travellers, you’ll get RM116* off your purchases with the promo code <CHERRY58>. We’re sorry, but this promotion has ended 🙁
Most importantly, enjoy yourself and remember to soak in and appreciate the views amidst all the excitement and photo-taking 📸
So there you have it – you are now more ready than ever to tick sakura-viewing off your travel bucket list! Go forth and complete your cherry blossom chase 🤗
This article is brought to you by Klook.