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Authored by Chan Komagan

Famous throughout the world, Japan’s cherry blossoms put on a spectacular show every spring with visitors coming from far and wide to view the incredible sight.

Japanese call it “Hana – mi” which literally translates to “viewing of cherry blossoms”; the cherry flowers referred to as “Sakura” in Japanese. So when did this tradition originate and how did it become a popular activity among locals and tourists alike?

How to Plan a Cherry Blossoms Trip to Japan

Here’s a Little History

Sakura developed its prominence first among the Aristocratic families in Japan during the Heian period between the 8th and 12th centuries. But it was not until the 17th century (the Edo period) when Sakura began to gain a foothold among the common people.

Tokugawa Yoshimune planted numerous Sakura trees in various cities across Japan. All cherry blossom trees were planted using a technique called Tsugiki (Grafting). Most trees planted using this technique have identical DNA, which is why most Sakura in Japan blossom and fall around the same time.

How do Locals Celebrate Hanami?

Once cherry blossoms start to appear, parks throughout the country quickly fill with locals who set up their picnic blankets and baskets. People are merry drinking sake, eating tempura and engaging in playful banters.

This is a great sight to take in as a tourist, although it can often prove difficult to find a place to sit.

Japan's Cherry Blossom Festival, Hanami

Cherry blossoms Japan

Cherry Blossoms Schedule

Every year the Japan Weather association publishes a schedule which outlines the blooming of Cherry trees in Japan.

Cherry blossom Schedule Japan

How Do You Plan a Trip?

If you are visiting Japan for the Cherry blossoms, my recommendation is to start your trip in the south. It’s more likely you will find a cheaper ticket to Tokyo than to other cities.

When you get to Tokyo, activate your JR Rail pass at Tokyo Narita International airport and head straight to Kagoshima by Shinkansen (High speed Bullet train system). A distance of 1353 KM between Tokyo and Kagoshima only takes 7 hours by Shinkansen train. Start your journey from Kagoshima and slowly move up north to Tokyo.

Screen Shot 2016-06-002

How About Those Japanese?

At a first glance, Japanese locals tend to be shy and introverted, though once you start making an effort to interact, you will find them very friendly and amicable. They will go out of their way to help you.

From my time in Japan, I remember stopping to ask a girl for directions to the nearest subway station. She didn’t speak any English but walked with me all the way to show me the station. I met a Japanese man at an overnight bus from Tokyo to Kyoto and we became friends. He offered to host me at his tiny apartment for a few days.

Instances such as these made my journey very pleasant. Japan is a very organized country, and I have never witnessed anything quite like it elsewhere. It is often quoted as one of the safest and cleanest places in the world. They don’t throw garbage on the streets. I joked with my friends that cleanliness overtook as their religion.

When to Go?

You should plan your trip between mid March and mid April. Make your flight/hostel/Airbnb/Couchsurfing bookings well in advance as most places get filled pretty fast during the Spring season.

Where to Stay?

In big cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima it is easier to find Couch surfing accommodations. In smaller cities hostels and Airbnb options work better.

Photos That Will Make You Book a Trip

Kamukura shrine, Japan

Kamukura shrine by by Chan Komagan

Kyoto Cherry Blossoms

Kyoto by Chan Komagan

Sakura of Meguro River

Sakura of Meguro River by eiji ienaga


Kyu-Goryo-Tei, Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo by Reginald Pentinio

Taken from Arakura Sengen Shrine in Yamanashi Prefecture

Taken from Arakura Sengen Shrine by Reginald Pentinio

Himeji Castle by Reginald Pentinio. Hiroshima Castle by Chan Komagan.


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Chan is an avid traveler and a tech enthusiast who has traveled to 5 continents and 40 countries in his lifetime. He quit his job last December to pursue his dream of traveling to the far corners of the world.

Based in New York, while traveling he does stock trading and blogging at You can connect with Chan on Facebook and Twitter. You can read more of his guest posts on this blog on his author page.

Photo credits: Featured photo by Yoshikazu TAKADA. In order of appearence by Life Outside of Texas, Bobo and ChiChiReginald PentinioYoshikazu TAKADA, Japan Weather associationkaybee07Sirawat Kittisuphat.


  1. We so want to make it to Japan this year for the cherry blossoms!

    • I hope you do have the chance Hannah – you guys take amazing photos, so I would love to see your pics from experiencing the Cherry Blossoms!

  2. The boat rides (kayaks?) on the river surrounded by trees looks AWESOME! What a fun way to experience such an iconic adventure!

    • Doesn’t that look spectacular! It’s my favorite activity for this time of year :)

  3. We were there (mainly in the Yaeyama islands in the South after Okinawa) in April and were surprised by how early the season starts down there – ie in January. Autumn’s also a colourful season to marvel at the colours but would love to see the cherry blossom season itself one day.

    • Hope you have the chance to head back and catch the season in full swing at some stage Stefan :) And totally agree that Autumn is also a spectacular time of year! So many reasons to visit in each different season for Japan!!

  4. The blossoms along the river are just spectacular! How amazing it would be to take part in such a local custom. Timing the cherry blossoms is definitely on my Japan to-do list. :)

    • Maybe 2017 can be your year!

  5. oh, Japan – one of my dream destinations! Cherry blossom makes the country look as if it was taken from the fairy-tale. Thank you for tips!

    • Totally agree with you – it’s like stepping into the pages of a real life storybook! Hope you have the chance to travel soon Natalia :)

  6. This is a great post. I love that it talks about the history a bit. And I’m with LeAnna, I want to go boating with the blossoms. Great pics! What an amazing photo op.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Carol! Hope you have the chance to take in a kayaking trip at some stage soon! :)

  7. oh my gosh it literally looks amazing your pictures are insane. If I were planning a trip to Japan than for sure 100% I would go for cheery blossoms in the spring

    • Hope we’ve convinced you it’s a great destination for a trip :D!

  8. I always love seeing the Cherry Blossoms in DC. Would love to see them in Tokyo!

    • You’ll love Tokyo then, Japan takes the season to a completely different level!

  9. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, but especially during cherry blossom season. Thanks for the train tip, that will make it easier to see more than one city when I’m finally able to go. :)

    • Absolutely Vicki! May as well take in as much of the country as possible while there – Japan is a truly diverse place and has so much to offer :) Happy travels!

  10. Ever since I first saw cherry blossoms in Washington DC, the cherry blossoms of Japan have been on my bucket list. I like how there is a schedule you can refer to to help plan your trip. I will definitely keep this in mind for future planning.

    • You’ll love the season in Japan then, they really take the cherry blossom experience to a completely different level!

    • Thanks Marta! Will check out your recommended guides :)

  11. Beautiful post. I too spent two weeks in Sakura season last year. Please read my experience on

    • Thanks Ankur! So glad you enjoyed your time in Japan! Thanks for sharing your link :)

  12. My favorite sakura spot has to be Chureito Pagoda, very iconic with a sight of Mount Fuji, red pagoda and cherry blossoms all in one view. Also, Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo simply can’t go wrong.

    • Thanks for the tips Andrew! Chureito Pagoda sounds like quite the incredible scenic spot – will add it to our list for the next cherry blossom trip!

  13. Hi Meg, Looks like you had a great time. Good tips too from other commentators, Thought I would share a link with some great photos of Sakura cherry blossoms in Japan cheers and keep up the great work :)

    • Thanks for sharing your link Rich – such beautiful photos! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  14. Hello! This is such a wonderful post.. having stayed in Japan for over 4 years and thereby having visited many of the places whose photos you have mentioned, made me relive those days! Just thought of sharing some of the places that I feel are best for viewing the Sakura in Japan –

    • Thanks for sharing your post Mainak, glad we could bring back some wonderful memories for you! :)

  15. The Cherry Blossom during the spring is amazing.
    We took spectacular photos and enjoyed a wonderful family trip.

    • So glad to hear you had a fabulous time in Japan – cherry blossoms truly is a spectacular season!

  16. Hi Meg,

    I just wrote an epic guide on visiting the Japan Cherry Blossoms in 2020 along with the forecast & best places to visit based on my experience of having experience the Hanami festival last year.

    My first attempt at blog piece :) Hope your readers find it useful.

    • Hi Aditya

      Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your first blog piece! Hanami truly is an incredible season, I can’t wait to see what the 2020 season brings!

      Happy new year :)

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