Springtime in Japan is a must-do for anyone looking to vacation around this time of year. In particular, throughout March and May where the turning of the season into Spring is celebrated throughout Japan; the most notorious of which is the Sakura season which celebrates the blooming of cherry trees throughout Japan.
Although the cherry trees themselves only blossom for a few weeks a year, the whole country seems to come alive throughout this period. In typical Japanese tradition, even the confectionery is cherry flavored to mark the occasion. Cherry blossom flavored kit kats? Of course! Even a McDonalds provide a cherry flavored burger!
What is cherry blossom season in Japan?
According to Japanese Buddhist folklore, the petals represent the ephemeral nature of life. Some even believe that the petals represent the reincarnated souls of fallen warriors. Hanafubuki, or “flower snow storm”, is a phrase used when falling petals become a flurry of pink snowflakes. The saying prophecies that if you catch one, your good fortune is assured.
Note: It’s frowned upon to pick or touch or cherry blossoms outside of Hanafubuki. Take as many wonderful photos as you like, yet be sure to respect Japanese traditions on this to avoid offending the locals.
There is even a special name for cherry blossom viewing, Hanami. Travelers from Japan and further field journey to Kyoto or Honsu (a four hour train from Tokyo) and head to Hirosaki Castle Park where over 2,500 cherry trees bloom in early April.
When is best to see cherry blossoms in Japan?
According to Japan Weather Association the first blossoms are set to arrive in the south on March 16th in the city of Fukuoka, Kumamoto on March 17, and Nagasaki on March 20. This is a hugely popular pastime for Japanese and foreigners alike, so we recommend you steer clear of Kyoto or Honsu if you want to avoid the largest of the crowds during this period.
That is why the north is a spectacular option for cherry blossom season. Not only do they arrive later on in the year – ensuring better weather – they are also ideally located to nearby ski resorts such as Niseko or Hokkaido. If you have the opportunity to enjoy spring skiing and Hanami in one holiday, do so!
If you’re looking at viewing cherry blossom season without the crowds and without the expense head to Japan’s Kyushu island or South Korea instead.
Popular viewing spots include Yeouido and Seokchon Lake in Seoul, and Jeju’s Jeonnong-ro (cherry blossom street).
Wherever you choose to view the cherry blossoms we recommend making a day of it. Once you arrive at a park, you can meander through the many walkways and arches encircled in cherry trees. To make a day of it, many opt to take a picnic basket and sake along with them. The local supermarkets in the area will often sell goods for such an occasion.
Sakura isn’t an exclusively daytime activity either, with the trees illuminated at night to provide an arguably more breathtaking view.
Cherry blossom viewing with a twist
If you want to see the cherry blossoms in a different light, check out some of the cherry blossom marathons on offer. There’s the Nihondaira cherry tree marathon in Shizuoka on April 7th. The course overlooks Mt. Fuji and is a must do for marathon addicts or those wanting a unique experience worldwide.
Or look at booking a ski holiday alongside Sakura season . Niseko is only a few hours drive away from Hokkaido where over 1,500 cherry blossoms bloom at Goryokaku Fort in late April. With fantastic snow and incredible deals on ski passes and accommodation – it’s the perfect holiday.
There’s a reason that cherry blossom season is famous worldwide. With stunning views combined with unique Japanese culture, there really is no better place to vacation for your spring holiday.
If you would like to know more about vacationing in Japan, then get in contact with us here at Snow Dog Village.