Springtime marks the start of a very special event in Japan: the cherry blossom or sakura season.
Sakura, with its delicate pink and white flowers, is one of the most iconic symbols of Japanese culture attracting tourists worldwide. During the peak season, Japan transforms into a fairytale-like land where streets, parks, and rivers are decorated with the breathtaking beauty of sakura.
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of sakura is to go cherry blossom viewing or “hanami.” Hanami is a popular Japanese tradition that dates back to Japan’s Nara Period (710-794). It involves spending hours watching and appreciating the beauty of the flowers.
Popular hanami spots in Japan include Ueno Park, Inokashira Park, and Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. However, these locations can get very crowded. So if you want to go somewhere less crowded, why not visit places near Tokyo, like the Best places to enjoy sakura cherry blossom near Tokyo?
Another way to experience the beauty of sakura is by taking a stroll through a sakura-lined street, sometimes called a sakura tunnel. Lines of sakura trees can be found all over Japan, and they’re perfect for long walks or bicycle rides. Imagine the stunning view you will experience.
For those who want some challenge for their daily step count, cherry blossom viewing on the mountain is just as fun. If hiking with falling sakura flower petals everywhere sounds good, Mt Ohira would be an interesting place and you can see Tokyo’s skyscrapers on a fine day. Akaginanmen Senbonzakura is also somewhere you don’t want to miss if you can make your way by car.
For a more unique Hanami or cherry blossom viewing experience, consider visiting a sakura festival or event near Tokyo. Numerous cities in Japan host sakura festivals that feature live music, street food stalls, and other entertainment. Some festivals feature traditional Japanese performances such as taiko drumming and geisha performances. So, make sure to also check our festival page for spring festivals.
Cherry blossom viewing, or Hanami, is not only limited to watching the flowers. It’s a great opportunity for friends and families to gather together and enjoy picnics under the sakura trees. This is a popular activity during the sakura season, and it’s an opportunity to enjoy good company and delicious food while admiring the beauty of the cherry blossoms.
If you don’t like the thought of walking through parks, why not take a train through sakura lined tracks instead! Watarase Valley railway (which has connections from Tokyo!) operates a special open-air Sakura Viewing trains called ‘Wasshi Go’ & ‘Keikoku Go’ were you can sit comfortably and enjoy the view of the cherry blossom and the valley. This is a great way to comfortably explore the countryside in a relaxing way. If this sounds interesting have a look at our dedicated page for Sakura Viewing Along Watarase Valley Railway !
Sakura viewing in cities such as Tokyo can attract a large crowd of tourists and can get really busy. This isn’t always a fun experience. This is why we recommend traveling 1-2 hours north of Tokyo to find a vast range of sakura experiences without the stressful crowds.
As I linked a couple of times in this page, we have a page dedicated to introducing you to different Cherry Blossom spots near Tokyo. So if you haven’t read it yet, please have a look here. ‘The best places to enjoy sakura cherry blossom near Tokyo‘ !
Sakura season is one of my favorite times of year in Japan. It’s a time when the weather gets warmer and the countryside is becomes really colorful and beautiful.
If you are planning to see sakura in Japan, it will be good to keep in mind that sakura seasons can vary slightly year-to-year. On average, the peak of cherry blossoms in Tokyo is around the 24th of March, but this can be one week earlier or a week later depending on the temperature during February and March. This means that you might miss the peak if it comes early.
The good news is that places we recommend in our website are 1-2 hours north from Tokyo, so the peak season is about a week later than Tokyo. If you’ve missed the peak in Tokyo by a few days, you can still catch the peak here!
Sake Brewery in Mashiko
Sake Brewery in Nasu-Karasuyama
Sake Breweries in Nikko
I hope you enjoyed reading about this hidden gem just north of Tokyo, if you would like to know more about fun things to do and travel ideas, please continue to have a look at our must-see / must do things nearby Tokyo page.
To book unique activities in English, please see the Nearby Tokyo experience page.
Contributor: Angus Miyaji
Founder of Japan World Link, Angus helps visitors discover off the beaten track destinations in the North Kanto regions (Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki & Saitama) nearby Tokyo. He regularly travels between Japan and the UK promoting tourism and Sake.