Finding a place for online, cherry blossom (hanami / 花見 or sakura / 桜) in Japan content could be considered akin to finding space to park your bum under the best trees the nation has to offer. Like a well organised hanami party chief, up at the crack of dawn to lay down the blue tarpaulin, the ground here has been well covered.
So what can we offer that’s any different in 2016? Well, we’re not sure, to be perfectly honest. We could offer our own opinion and conjecture about the best ten cherry blossom spots in such and such as place, but then you’d probably never find it under the pile of lists dating back through the years.
What we might offer though is access to what the locals are saying about THEIR cherry blossom hot spots. Maybe this will turn up something new for you. Or, maybe it won’t.
We leafed through the pages of bookshelf ever present Walker+, whose series of magazines seem to have ‘walked’ readers through just about every sightseeing attraction in the land, in Japanese. Walker+ plus have put together one of the most comprehensive hanami in Japan 2016 resources we’ve seen, listing Top 10 人気ランキング (popularity ranking) spots across the whole country … in Japanese. So we thought we’d try and bring them to you (in English) and thus perhaps an insight into the kind of resource locals use to plan their cherry blossom bashes.This rough translation is fresh as of today (March 10, 2016). If you check the original lists here, there maybe some discrepancies due to further updates made to the source. We’ve kept it simple, just the location name and that of the broader area. The Walker+ page lists the ‘time range’ for blossom for each spot.
上旬 / joujun / 1st third of the month
中旬 / chujun / middle third of the month
下旬 / gejun / final third of the month
しだれ桜 / shidare zakura / weeping cherry blossom
桜並木 / sakura namiki / cherry blossom lining a road
Kanto (generally late March - early April)
1) Meguro River (Meguro-ku) 2) Rikugien (Bunkyō-ku) 3) Ueno Park (Taito-ku) 4) Chidorigafuchi Park (Chiyoda-ku) 5) Akagi Cherry Blossom Festival (Gunma-ken) 6) Sumida Koen (Sumida-ku) 7) Yasukuni Shrine (Chiyoda-ku) 8) Kenritsu Mitsuike Park (Kanagawa-ken) 9) Inokashira Park (Musashino-shi) 10) Hamarikyu Gardens (Chuo-ku)
Kansai (generally late March - early/mid April)
1) Daigoji (Kyoto-fu) 2) Ōsaka Castle Park (Ōsaka-fu) 3) Yoshinoyama (Chusenhon) (Nara-ken) 4) Bampaku-kinen Park (Ōsaka-fu) 5) Shukugawa Park (Hyōgo-ken) 6) Cherry Blossom Tunnel Road (Japan Mint) (Ōsaka-fu) 7) Kaizu Osaki (Shiga-ken) 8) Kema Sakuranomiya Park (Ōsaka-fu) 9) Philosopher’s Path (Kyoto-fu) 10) Maruyama Park (Kyoto-fu)
Hokkaido (generally early May - late May)
1) Goryokaku Park (Hakodate-shi) 2) 20 Ken Roadside Sakura (Hidaka-gun) 3) Masaki Park (Masaki-gun) 4) Hokkaido Ritsu Makomanai Park (Sapporo-shi) 5) Moerenuma Park (Sapporo-shi) 6) Noribetsu Onsen Tunnel (Noribetsu-shi) 7) Shiba Zakura Takinnoue Park (Monbetsu-gun) 8) Asahiyama Park (Ashikawa-shi) 9) Usu Yoshimitsu Temple Shizen Park (Date-shi) 10) Bibai-shi Tōmei Park (Bibai-shi)
Tōhoku (generally mid April - late April)
1) Miharu Falls (Fukushima-ken) 2) Shiraishi River (Hitome) 1000 Sakura Trees (Miyagi-ken) 3) Nichu Line Bicycle/Walking Path Weeping Cherry Blossom (Fukushima-ken) 4) Hanami Yama (Fukushima-ken) 5) Tsuruga Castle Park (Fukushima-ken) 6) Funaoka Jōshi Park (Miyagi-ken) 7) Hirosaki Park (Yoshino Cherry Tree) (Aomori-ken) 8) Kessenjo Weeping Cherry Blossom (Fukushima-ken) 9) Hokujōten Scenic Spot (Iwate-ken) 10) Beniedashide Jizo Zakura (Fukushima-ken)
Kōshinetsu (very roughly, late March to mid April)
1) Takada Park (Niigata-ken) 2) Takato Jōshi Park (Nagano-ken) 3) Minobusan Kuon-ji (Yamanashi-ken) 4) Yamataka Kumashiro Sakura (Yamanashi-ken) 5) Kawaguchi Lake (North Bank) (Yamanashi-ken) 6) Mt. Kōbō Kofun (ancient tomb) (Nagano-ken) 7) Garyō Park (Nagano-ken) 8) Yamanokami 1000 (trees) Sakura (Yamanashi-ken) 9) Daihōshi Park (Yamanashi-ken) 10) Ueda Jōseki Park (Nagano-ken)
Hokuriku (early April - mid April)
1) Tokubetsu Meishō Kenrokuen (Ishikawa-ken) 2) Asuwa River Sakura Namiki (Fukui-ken) 3) Takaoka Kojō Park (Toyama-ken) 4) Maruoka Castle (Fukui-ken) 5) Noto Sakura Station (Ishikawa-ken) 6) Kanasaki Miya (Kanegasaki Park) (Fukui-ken) 7) Ashji Castle Park (Ishikawa-ken) 8) Asuwayama Park (Fukui-ken) 9) Matsukawa (river) Park (Toyama-ken) 10) Myōyūji (weeping sakura) (Fukui-ken)
Tōkai (generally late March - early April)
1) Okazaki Park (Aichi-ken) 2) Izukōgen Sakura Namiki (Shizuoka-ken) 3) Nagoya Castle (Aichi-ken) 4) Tsurumai Park (Aichi-ken) 5) Awa Boku Park (Gifu-ken) 6) Okuyamada Weeping Sakura (Aichi-ken) 7) Shinsakaigawa (river) Tsutsumi No Sakura Namiki (Gifu-ken) 8) Higashitaniyama Fruit Park (Aichi-ken) 9) Mitake (Mie-ken) 10) Hamamatsu Castle Park (Shizuoka-ken)
Chūgoku (generally late March - early/mid April)
1) Tsu Yamashiro (Tsuruyama Park) (Okayama-ken) 2) (Around) Kintaikyō (Yamaguchi-ken) 3) Senkōji Park (Hiroshima-ken) 4) Okayama Kōrakuen (Okayama-ken) 5) Miyajima (Hiroshima-ken) 6) Sera Kōzan Fureai No Sato (Hiroshima-ken) 7) Daigo Sakura (Okayama-ken) 8) Sakazu Park (Okayama-ken) 9) Hiikawa Teibō (river bank) Weeping Sakura (Shimane-ken) 10) Heiwa Kinen Park (Hiroshima-ken)
Shikoku (mid March - mid April)
1) Shiundeyama (Kagawa-ken) 2) Kaisan Park (Ehime-ken) 3) Tokubetsu Meishō Ritsurin Park (Kagawa-ken) 4) Asahiyama Shinrin Park (Kagawa-ken) 5) Hyōtan Sakura Park (Kōchi-ken) 6) Matsuyama Shiroyama Park (Ehime-ken) 7) Bizan Park (Tokushima-ken) 8) Dōgo Park (Ehime-ken) 9) Kenritsu Kindan Park (Kagawa-ken) 10) Ōyake Fuchi Shinrin Park (Kagawa-ken)
Kyushu (end of March - early April)
1) Isshin Yuki No Dai Sakura (Kumamoto-ken) 2) Nishi Park (Fukuoka-ken) 3) Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto-ken) 4) Maizuru Park (Fukuoka-ken) 5) Asai No (One Tree) Sakura (Fukuoka-ken) 6) Katsuyama Park (Ogura Castle) (Fukuoka-ken) 7) Akizuki Sugi No Baba Road (Fukuoka-ken) 8) Ogi Park (Saga-ken) 9) Shibō Dam Mizuumi (Kumamoto-ken) 10) Tadashimoto Park (Kagoshima-ken)
For those with access to Tokyo, there are myriad hanami hot spots and shenanigans to get excited about.
Portal to all things fun in the capital, Let’s Enjoy Tokyo has an English-language site, but as is often the case, information is limited when compared to what’s on offer in Japanese. On the latter, you can find Let’s Enjoy Tokyo’s own hanami / 花見 recommendations including some ideas for cherry blossom based dates, which we (roughly) translate and list below …
おしゃれな街で、大人のお花見デート / a date for ‘adults’ in a fashionable part of town
For a more ‘adult’ date spot, いけばな×百段階段 / ikebana & hyaku dan kaidan / ikebana and the 100-step stairway (combining the Meguro River cherry blossom with a bit of learning). Start from Meguro Gajoen, a community space, and home to an ancient 100-step stairway. Displays of ikebana can be seen here from March 3rd - May 15th. From here you’re recommended to walk along Meguro River, ending in Roppongi at Tokyo Midtown. Here you can have a drink at MARTINI Blossom Lounge, a temporary bar set up by The Ritz-Carlton and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, open from March,18th through to April, 17th.
夜桜の下で、ロマンチックデート / romantic date under evening cherry blossom trees
Begin the date with a bit of boating on the moats at Chidorigafuchi (surrounding the Imperial Palace) before making the short hop over to Yasukuni Shrine to chow down on snacks from the many stalls that set up under the cherry blossom trees at this infamous spot. Finish up at a canal-side cafe near Iidabashi Station
登山＆花見の充実アクティブデート / a full & active date of mountain climbing & hanami
Let’s Enjoy Tokyo recommend Hanno City in Saitama, as a base for temples, light hiking, and of course, cherry blossom. Hanno City, and the activities listed below, are doable as a day trip from Tokyo. Hanno Station is on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line.
One suggestion is No-nin-ji, a temple dating back to 1501. Near the temple car park are some early blossoming trees. The temple is a 5-minute walk from the north exit of Hanno Station.
Couples in reasonable physical condition might enjoy some hiking up, on, and around Mt. Tenran (天覧山). On clear days you may be blessed with views of Mt. Fuji. The people over at RIDGELINE IMAGES have hiked around here.
On your way back from the mountain, rest up in Hanno’s Central Park (中央公園, chuo-koen), home to some 400 cherry blossom trees and the Hanno Cherry Blossom Festival, where blossoms can be enjoyed at night (until 10 pm).
So there you have it. Maybe we’ve managed to squeeze our way into Japan’s hanami party afterall. Or maybe not. Perhaps we look like that sorry couple who didn’t get themselves organized early enough and are reduced to loitering on the outskirts eating sorry looking snacks from a nearby konbini.
Either way, we hope you have the chance to find a nice cherry blossom spot this year. And as always, we’d love to hear about your own thoughts on the best hanami spots in Japan for 2016.
NB* We’ve done our best to translate/interpret some of the content in Walker+ and Let’s Enjoy Tokyo, but it is by no means an ‘official’ translation.