Nothing beats experiencing cherry blossoms in Japan. If you're visiting Japan during spring this year, you've probably been waiting in anticipation for Japan's official cherry blossom forecast for 2020!
Lucky for you, the Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC) released its first cherry blossom forecast
on 9 Jan 2020 for the flowering and full bloom dates in various parts of Japan. To help you get the best of the breathtaking cherry blossom views, we've rounded up the forecasted dates in Japan's main cities and the most Instagrammable spots for you to experience hanami (the Japanese practice of viewing cherry blossoms).
Do note that the actual flowering and full bloom dates listed below might differ by 1 to 5 days. The next forecast update by JMC is expected to be released on 23 Jan 2020 so do keep a lookout on their website
1. TokyoFlowering starts: 19 MarFull bloom: 25 Mar
There’s nothing quite like admiring the pale, gentle hues of the sakura amidst the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s streets. Crowds mill everywhere to take pictures with the natural beauty and to bond with their loved ones over the picturesque sights. Despite the crowds, you'll still find yourself feeling a sense of tranquillity as you soak in the hanami atmosphere. Check out our 5D4N Muslim-friendly Tokyo itinerary
for your cherry blossom chase in Tokyo!
Most Instagrammable cherry blossom spots in Tokyo:Shinjuku Gyoen
With more than 1,000 cherry trees and dozens of varieties, Shinjuku Gyoen is undoubtedly one of the best spots to catch cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Lay your picnic mats on the spacious lawns and join hundreds of locals and travellers in marvelling at the breathtaking views.
P.S. Looking for places to eat after your cherry blossom chase? We've got you covered with our ultimate Tokyo halal food guide!Meguro River
Meguro River is known for its picturesque view of hundreds of cherry trees neatly lined along a canal. This almost symmetrical arrangement of trees are pleasing to the eyes and makes it a stunning backdrop for your photos ? The best part is that it’s located just a station away from Shibuya, so you can escape the city for a bit for this slice of beauty!
#HHWT Tip:Check out these essential tips
to help you get the best out of your cherry blossom experience!
Chidorigafuchi is a moat located in the Imperial Palace surroundings and here's where you can admire cherry blossoms while rowing your own boat. The picturesque views of sakura and the water are something that you won't want to miss ?
The queue for the boats during cherry blossom season can get really long so do plan to go early if you want to avoid the crowd. The boat pier opens at 9.30 am and the estimated cost is JPY800 for 30 minutes.
Other popular cherry blossom spots in Tokyo:
- Ueno Park
- Yoyogi Park
- Sumida Park
- Inokashira Park
BONUS: Fuji Five LakesFlowering starts: Early AprFull bloom: Mid-AprCredit: チョシム チョシム on Facebook
Planning a day trip from Tokyo to explore its surrounds? Make your cherry blossom experience even more amazing by heading to the Fuji Five Lakes area! Here's where you'll be greeted with an enchanting sight of cherry blossoms amidst the backdrop of Mt Fuji. One of the vantage points is none other than the Chureito Pagoda
(above) where culture and nature meets. The northern shores of Lake Kawaguchi
is also another hotspot to get that picture-perfect shot of both the majestic mountain and cherry blossoms ? Check out our Muslim-friendly guide to Mt Fuji
to guide you on your trip.
2. KyotoFlowering starts: 23 MarFull bloom: 1 Apr
What better way to fully appreciate cherry blossom than amongst nature and by calming streams of water? With a beautiful blend of nature and tradition, Kyoto makes for a great spot to experience hanami,
whether you're with a significant other or a group of friends. Due to Kyoto's popularity among travellers, do note that you'll have to jostle with the crowds at these spots so we recommend that you arrive early to get the perfect shot!
Most Instagrammable cherry blossom spots in Kyoto:Philosopher's Path
This 2km stone path is probably the most famous cherry blossom walking trail in Kyoto. The sight of the walking trail and canal lined with hundreds of cherry trees is simply too breathtaking to miss. One of our writers visited the Philosopher's Path during sakura season and she shares her unforgettable experience at this stunning spot
P.S. Feeling hungry in Kyoto? We've rounded up 12 awesome halal eateries for you!ArashiyamaCredit: Guesthouse Atagoya on Facebook
Known for the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama is also a beautiful spot to catch cherry blossoms. Be greeted by the sight of Mount Arashiyama housing speckles of sakura trees creating a beautiful contrast of pastel against the vast greenery. Or take a stroll past the Togetsu-kyo Bridge along the Katsura River for some other-worldly views ?
Maruyama ParkCredit: Travel with Winnie the Geeg :) on Facebook
Arguably the most popular spot for sakura viewing in Kyoto, Maruyama Park's captivating masterpiece is a giant 70-year old weeping sakura which illuminates from sundown to 1am. The atmosphere picks up even more at night with visitors enjoying snacks from stalls around the park, under the lovely night sky ?
Other popular cherry blossom spots in Kyoto:
P.S. Planning your trip to Japan? Our 7D6N Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka Muslim-friendly itinerary will be just what you need!
- Heian Shrine
- Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace Park)
- Gion Shirakawa
- Kamogawa River
- Sagano Romantic Railway
3. OsakaFlowering starts: 25 MarFull bloom: 1 Apr
Home to the majestic Osaka Castle, the iconic Dotonbori Street and Universal Studios Japan, Osaka is another city in Japan to catch the sakura in full bloom while experiencing the Japanese city life. Osaka might not usually be associated with nature or beautiful scenery but guess what, you can still find magnificent cherry blossom spots.
P.S. Fill your tummy with delicious halal food in Osaka with our Osaka halal food guide!
Most Instagrammable cherry blossom spots in Osaka:Osaka Castle Park
Osaka Castle Park is ideal for a picnic under the canopy of cherry flowers. Home to around 3000 cherry trees set against the backdrop of the iconic Osaka Castle, this is the place you can't miss in Osaka during sakura season! At night, the trees are illuminated, creating a magical sight.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park
Another spot for a lovely hanami in Osaka would be Kema Sakuranomiya Park. Here's where you’ll find almost 5000 cherry trees stretching for several kilometres along the Okawa River! The neatly lined trees along the river promenade create a cherry blossom tunnel that's perfect for your photos ?
Other popular cherry blossom spots in Osaka:
BONUS: Himeji CastleCredit: Thoriq Al on Facebook
- Expo 70 Commemorative Park
- Osaka Mint
- Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park
Located more than an hour away from Osaka, Himeji Castle offers one of the best cherry blossoms viewing spots in Japan. The castle's grounds are home to 1,000 cherry trees which come alive in various shades of pink and white during sakura season. While admission to the outer castle is free, do note that you'll have to pay to enter the inner grounds. Either way, you're guaranteed a remarkable view of cherry blossoms! Check out our 7D6N itinerary of Osaka and its surrounds
to find out how we got to Himeji from Osaka.
4. NaraFlowering starts: 27 MarFull bloom: 3 Apr
Another unique way to experience cherry blossoms and spring in Japan is to do so while feeding deer! The deer in Nara are so good at pulling off the ‘puppy eyes’ look, it’ll be hard to resist feeding them while you’re roaming Nara Park.
Most Instagrammable cherry blossom spots in Nara:Nara ParkCredit: Nara deer park resident on Facebook
Not only is Nara Park home to its famous deers, but the huge park also has around 1700 of cherry trees with different varieties. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone and admire cherry blossoms while being in the company of the adorable deers. Not to mention that the park is also home to cultural sites like the Todaiji and Kofukuji temples too.
Located just outside Nara City, Koriyama Castle is mostly in ruins as it was destroyed during the Meiji era. However, parts of it are still standing and today, it's known for its attractive backdrops of cherry blossoms. During sakura season, the castle, together with the cherry trees will be lit up, creating a spectacular sight.
If you have a little bit more time to spare in Nara, a visit to Mt Yoshino is a must. It's believed to be Japan's most famous cherry blossom viewing spot for centuries and there are 30,000 cherry trees on the mountain! With different varieties of cherry trees and blooming seasons, you can expect a variety of pink hues all over the mountain.
Other popular cherry blossom spots in Nara:
- Himuro Shrine
- Hasedera Temple
5. AomoriFlowering starts: 23 AprFull bloom: 27 Apr
Located in the northernmost part of Japan's Honshu island in the Tohoku region, Aomori is known for its endless nature and juicy apples. It's only about 3 hours away from Tokyo via the shinkansen but it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. On our trip to the Tohoku region last year
, we managed to make a stop at Aomori and discovered its hidden gems!
Credit: Aomori Prefecture Government and Aomori Prefecture, Tourism and International Affairs Strategy Bureau
During sakura season, one landmark that stands out in Aomori is the Hirosaki Castle*. It's a must-visit spot for cherry blossom chasers as there are more than 2,000 cherry trees planted here. The Hirosaki Sakura Festival is held annually to celebrate the eventand visitors can expect amazing sights such as the cherry blossom trees being illuminated at night, the “sakura carpet” (where the falling petals of the cherry blossoms completely blanket the still waters of the castle moat), and the gorgeous view of the castle surrounded by the pink cherry blossoms. *Do note that the castle is currently not in its original position as it is undergoing repair works to its base structure. The castle was moved in its entirety about 70m away ? The castle is expected to be put back into its original place by 2021, though full repairs will take a few more years. But it's still a spectacular sight during sakura season!Other popular cherry blossom spots in Aomori:
- Ashino Park
- Kanchogai-dori, Towada City
6. HokkaidoFlowering starts: 1 MayFull bloom: 5 May
Cherry Blossom Season arrives later in Hokkaido but fashionably so, as it’s worth the wait. This also gives you more time to save up and plan for your cherry blossom trip! Once in Hokkaido, drink in the beauty of spring as you stroll through famous spots such as Matsumae Park, the Goryokaku Fort and more!
Most Instagrammable cherry blossom spots in Hokkaido:Matsumae Park
For one of the best cherry blossom sightings, head over to Matsumae, the only castle town in Hokkaido. The Matsumae Castle and the park surrounding has been labelled a "cherry blossom village" as it's home to 10,000 cherry trees! With over 200 varieties of cherry blossoms, you can expect the sakura season here to last for a month as they each have different blooming periods. Don't miss the Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival as there will be armoured warrior parades, performances and more!
Fort GoryokakuCredit: Wonders of our World on Facebook
Once a fort built to prevent possible invasion from Russia, Fort Goryokaku in Hakodate is known for its star shape. During sakura season, the Goryokaku Park inside the fort turns into a sea of pink as there are around 1,600 cherry trees in the vicinity. Head up to the Goryokaku Tower nearby to get the best view of cherry blossoms and the star-shaped fort!
Other popular cherry blossom spots in Hokkaido:
- Nijukken Road (Shizunai Cherry Blossom Festival)
- Odori Park, Sapporo
- Moerenuma Park, Sapporo
- Asahiyama Park, Asahikawa
- Noboribetsu Onsen Sakura Tunnel
With the 2020 Japan cherry blossom forecast and knowledge of the best spots to view cherry blossoms, you're now all set for the best hanami experience ever! Time to gather your travel buddies and start planning your trip ?