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Some of the top locations to visit for cherry blossoms this spring!

Spring heralds one of the most anticipated events of the year popular with millions of Japanese as well as tourists from all over the world. What else could we possibly be talking about than cherry blossom viewing! Due to the limited blooming period, cherry blossoms are often thought of as a metaphor for the preciousness and ephemeral beauty of life. The art of flower viewing or "hanami" in Japanese is a cultural tradition that goes back centuries and during the season when cherry blossoms are in bloom, you will see parties of people sitting on picnic blankets underneath cherry blossom trees in parks, eating obento (Japanese style lunchbox) and drinking Japanese osake (wine). To get the most out of this spectacular event, knowing where to go for the best viewing experiences is a must. But not to worry as we have done the hard work for you. Below you can find a selection of the best cherry blossom locations across the country, sure to make for the perfect "hanami" experience.

Location: Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo
Best time to visit: Mid March to mid April (Book hotels here)

The first location worth checking out is Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. This is one of the largest and most popular parks in the Tokyo area. It boasts over 1,000 cherry blossom trees which at the height of the cherry blossom season adorn the park in an exquisite light pink. Shinjuku Gyoen originated during the Edo period when it was first used as a feudal lord's Tokyo residence. The best time to see the cherry blossoms is from mid March to mid April. Due to its popularity, the park can become rather crowded so we recommend arriving early to grab a picnic spot.

Location: Ueno Park, Tokyo
Best time to visit: Late March to early April (Book hotels here)

Ueno Park is located close to Ueno Station and is home to over 1,000 cherry blossom trees in a spacious 133-acre park. Every year it draws in crowds of approximately 2 million people looking to enjoy the cherry blossom spectacle. As with Shinjuku Gyoen, it is recommended to arrive early if you're thinking about having a picnic. In the evening visitors can look forward to lanterns that transform the surroundings into a cherry-blossom illumination paradise.

Location: Sumida Park,Tokyo
Best time to visit: Late March to early April (Book hotels here)

Sumida Park runs along both sides of the Sumida River and has more than 1,000 cherry trees. The area stretches from Azumabashi Bridge to Sakurabashi Bridge and has been a famous cherry blossom viewing spot for centuries. When in full bloom, the trees that line the river make for spectacular photo opportunities and are great locations for a spot of lunch or dinner while immersing yourself in the beauty of your surroundings. This area also becomes crowded quickly so again it's best arrive early to secure a picnic spot!

Location: Meguro River, Tokyo
Best time to visit: Late March to early April(Book hotels here)

Meguro River is only a short walk away from Naka Meguro Station and is lined with over 830 sakura trees as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes offering a variety of meals, snacks and drinks. Taking a stroll under the many trees that line the river provides breathtaking views and in the evening, these same trees transform into a magical spectacle that lights up the night sky. While it is not possible to picnic under the trees, there are plenty of stalls and places nearby to enjoy a light refreshment whilst admiring the scenery on offer. As you walk further down from Naka Meguro to Ikejiri Ohashi, the river gets narrower and the cherry blossoms on both sides of the bridge form a beautiful arch ridge. Walking along this area makes for a truly magical experience.

Location: Arashiyama, Kyoto
Best time to visit: Late March to Early April (Book hotels here)

Arashiyama is located in the far west of Kyoto and can be found along the base of the Arashiyama Mountains. It has been famous as a cherry blossom viewing area for centuries attracting many local and foreign tourists each year. The river banks near Togetsukyo Bridge and Nakanoshima Park also form ideal places for picnics. If you're looking for something a little historical, Daikakuji Temple makes a great "hanami" spot with its large pond that is surrounded by cherry blossom trees. Other recommended cherry blossom viewing spots in this area include Tenryuji Temple, Hozu-gawa, Sewari-tei River Bank and Katsuragawa Ryokuchi Park.

Location: Philospher's Path, Kyoto
Best time to visit: Late March to Early April (Book hotels here)

Philospher's Path ranks as the most popular place for cherry blossom viewing in the Kyoto area and it's not difficult to see why. In early April the place looks absolutely amazing as hundreds of cherry blossom trees line the approximately 2 kilometers long pedestrian path which spreads from Ginkakuji to Nanzenji. As you walk along the path, it is possible to admire the variety of temples and shrines such as Honen-in, Otokyo Shrine and Eikan-do Zenrin-ji along the way as well. You can also enjoy restaurants, cafes and boutiques.

Location: Himeji Castle, Hyogo
Best time to visit:Late March to early April (Book hotels here)

Himeji Castle is considered Japan's most beautiful surviving feudal castle and is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site. The castle complex is over 400 years old and consists of over eighty buildings which are connected via gates and winding paths. In the spring, the castle grounds come alive with hundreds of cherry blossom trees that contrast beautifully against the backdrop of the castle.

Location: Fort Goryakuku Park, Hakodate (Hokkaido)
Best time to visit: Late April to Early May (Book hotels here)

Fort Goryakuku Park is a large star shaped western-style fort which was originally constructed to protect Hakodate against the imperialist threat of the West. Fast forward to present day and it is used as a public park (founded in 1910) with over 1,000 cherry blossom trees running along the moats. Walking along the moat and admiring the light pink scenery of your surroundings really is quite impressive and also forms a great spot for picnics. In the evening the area near Goryokaku Tower is lit up which really emphasizes the beauty of the cherry blossoms.

Location: Hirosaki Castle Park, Aomori
Best time to visit: Mid to Late April (Book hotels here)

Hirosaki Castle Park in the Aomori Prefecture hosts one of the largest and most popular cherry blossom events in Japan. The park is home to around 2,600 trees and has a variety of cherry blossoms such as weeping cherry and Yoshino cherry which come April time can be seem vibrantly blooming around the castle. Due to its high level of fame, around 2,000,000 people can be seen enjoying the beautiful views on offer here each year. What's great about this particular event is that the cherry blossoms can be enjoyed in various forms. For example, there's a cherry blossom tunnel, "yozakura" (lit up cherry blossom at night) or paddling a boat while viewing the cherry blossoms from afar. It's not difficult to understand why this park's cherry blossom event ranks as one of Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites or Japan's 100 scenic spots. As soon as you set foot inside the park, you will be amazed by its enchanting surroundings.

Location:Kakunodate, Akita
Best time to visit: Mid to late April (Book hotels here)

The quiet town of Kakunodate in Akita forms one of the most famous annual cherry blossom festivals in the region. There are two areas to view cherry blossom with both locations within close walking distance from the station. The first area is Hinokinai river where visitors can look forward to a beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms that span over 2km along the river bank. The second area is a street that is home to samurai houses. Here you can enjoy beautiful views of weeping willow-style sakura. Both areas offer stunning photo and picnic opportunities.

Location: Kawaguchiko (part of Mt.Fuji Five Lakes), Yamanashi
Best time to visit: Late March to early April (Book hotels here)

Kawaguchiko in the Mt.Fuji area is arguably one of the finest locations around for enjoying views of Mt.Fuji and the beautiful cherry blossoms at the same time. The main cherry blossom festival is held in the northern part of the lake where some of the most scenic views can be found. There are also other areas around the lake dotted with cherry blossom. The main festival takes place at a location named "Enkei Hall" which consists of food and drink stalls and markets. As you would expect from a popular festival, there is also a cherry blossom illumination which takes place from sunset until 9pm. For the best photos, it is recommended that you head out early when visibility levels of Mt.Fuji are at their highest.

As well as hotels in the above cherry blossom viewing areas, JAPANICAN offers cherry blossom tours that you can book here

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