The Ultimate Muslim-Friendly Guide to Cherry Blossom Season in Japan


Have Halal Will Travel •  Jan 25, 2023

Spring in Japan is a wondrous time, thanks to the fleeting sakura season that locals and tourists alike come in droves to see. This also makes it one of the busiest times of the year across the entire country! Japanese love coming together with friends and family to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery, armed with a picnic blanket and yummy food in tow – an age-old tradition called the Hanami.

Imagine your entire line of sight filled with the loveliest pink and white clouds of delicate sakura flowers. From the first bud that blooms til the last petal falls, it really is a sight to behold, before they disappear again for another year! ? It’s also a great reminder that this life is passing, so we need to make the most of it while we can.

1. First off, when’s the best time to go?

The advance of cherry blossoms across Japan is called the cherry blossom front. The front dates across the islands of Japan vary, usually beginning in the southern islands of Okinawa around January/February, while up north in Hokkaido, they can bloom as late as May. In major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka that lie in between, the season ordinarily takes place in early April. This gives you a window of around 3 months to fit in your trip to see the flowers!

Japan Spring
Credit: picturecorrect

Do note that the blooming period is generally short and differs from year to year depending on the weather – if the weather around the season is mild, blossoms open early and if it’s cold, they open later. If the seasons are always changing, how on earth can you start planning? A good way is to study previous years' sakura seasons, so you can roughly gauge when the right dates will be.

Enchanting sakura
Credit: nobuflickr

This is why you need to plan your trip way in advance and give yourself at least a week at your chosen destination – just to make sure that you’ll be able to catch it in case of variations in bloom time. Always check Japanese weather services and media as they follow the cherry blossom front closely.

2. Now that you know when…where’s the best place to see the magic?

Tokyo and Kyoto are definitely popular locations, with ample parks and groves of trees that you can plonk yourself under. In Tokyo, some of the best viewing spots are at Shinjukugyoen National Garden or Ueno Park, while Kyoto enthusiasts can check out Maruyama Park and Heian Jingu.

Ueno Park
Paddling down the river at Ueno Park, Tokyo

Credit: shikounotamenobasho

Maruyama Park
Maruyama Park in Kyoto is a lovely place for you to view cherry blossoms at night too! Nighttime picnic parties are called Yozakura.

Credit: The Boutique Traveller

Almost every city and town across Japan tends to have a famous spot or another, so don’t worry about finding a great spot for your picnic!

#HHWT Tip: Look out for our special sakura city guides soon, for an in-depth guide to the best spots for viewing sakura in Japan! We’ll cover any festivals or special events too.

3. You need a place to stay of course!

Since the spring season is an incredibly popular time to be in Japan for both foreign and domestic travellers, you definitely need to book your stay wayyy in advance if you want to get a good place that’s within your budget (We suggest doing it NOW!!). Hotels can have reasonable prices if you book early, while hostels or guesthouses can be cheaper, depending on your tastes. Some Airbnb places offer good accommodation at decent prices too, but be sure to check out reviews thoroughly before deciding – one of us has been to an “interesting” one…thanks to last-minute bookings?

Here are some useful links you can check out:

Hostels/guest house – Khaosan Tokyo or E-guest house

Muslim-friendly Hotels – Sakura Hotel Hatagaya in Tokyo or Hotel Granvia in Kyoto

Khaosan Tokyo
Credit: Khaosan-Tokyo

#HHWT Tip: Look at the accommodation on the outskirts of the city or a little bit away to get cheaper prices – e.g. If you’re going to Kyoto, you might want to check out accommodation in Osaka which is only a short train ride away (between 15 minutes to 50 minutes away by train, depending on which line you choose to take – and on your budget of course!). Also, think about booking mid-week periods as there are usually fewer domestic tourists during the week.

4. Getting around can be confusing, but we’re here to help!

There are a few ways to travel around Japan:

JR Pass

Japan Rail passes
Credit: Inside Kyoto

If you’re planning to visit a few cities, your best bet to save on transportation is by purchasing the JR pass, which can only be purchased from outside of Japan by those who have foreign passports or hold short-term visas (Yay for us!). We recommend getting your JR Pass on Klook where you can easily redeem your pass once you arrived in Japan! It might seem a tad pricey from the outset but you’ll be saving a whole lot more if you’re planning to really go around Japan to see the flowers in different locations. There are options for 7 days, 14 days or 21 days. You can find out more about the JR Pass here!

Suica Cards

Suica card
Credit: verenlee

Getting a prepaid Suica card is a great option if buying tickets, calculating fares and looking at train maps confuse you (It really can get quite confusing!) – the right train fare will automatically be deducted from your card when you touch it to the ticket gate. It can be used for JR East trains, subways, and buses too! Check out more info about the card (like where to purchase and how much it would cost) here!

Seishun 18

Seishun 18
Credit: gutereise09

Another option you could take if you’re going to a few cities around Japan is by purchasing the Seishun 18. It’s only released during certain times of the year and thankfully the tickets are available during Spring! Although the tickets are 11,850 yen (for both adults and children), you get unlimited use for 5 days – that basically means you can travel pretty much anywhere for 2370 yen per day. The website to check out more information for the Seishun is here!

#HHWT Tip: A useful app that you should download to help you roam Japan easily is Hyperdia – it shows you how to get from place to place, travel times and ticket prices.

Credit: CNN

 5. Of course we won’t forget about food! ?

We’ve already listed several halal eateries around Japan which you can find in cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Hokkaido, but since you’ll be setting up for a picnic, what better way to blend in with the locals than by having halal bentos under cherry blossom trees! (Our tummies are rumbling already….)

Sakura jam
You can get halal Sakura jam too! Yum yum. Perfect for your picnic party!

Credit: jp-hotnow

7. Other useful tips!

How to Hanami
Credit: Our Kawaii Tokyo

  • Make sure you have all the picnicking essentials with you, like food (of course), a picnic mat, portable chargers for all your gadgets, cutleries, wet wipes and most importantly garbage bags!
  • Go early to your chosen spot – Popular places get full pretty quickly and since you’ve made the trip you definitely want to catch a good spot!
  • Always check the weather. Here are some handy websites for you to keep tabs on the weather:
  • Stay connected and post a million photos on Instagram! Portable Wi-Fiis super convenient to have on you, especially when you want to show your folks at home the beautiful view. You can find more information on pocket wifi’s here.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful! Remember to relax, enjoy yourself and snap lots of photos! Don’t forget to share your snaps with us on our Instagram @havehalalwilltravel by hashtagging your photos with #hhwt and #havehalalwilltravel.