Photo: Benjamine Scalvenzi.
So much more than just a flower, so much more than just the iconic cherry blossoms of Japan, and a phenomenon you HAVE to see if you’re planning a hike through the Japanese countryside.
Once a year, Japan has an almost tangible festive atmosphere, spanning from the first day of Cherry Blossom Flowering season in Okinawa until the last petal drops north of Hokkaido. It’s one of the best times of the year to hike Japan’s countryside and see the famous flowers, and it’s also one of the best times to indulge in everything sakura-flavored and themed.
Although everybody probably has their own favorite viewing spot for the Sakura season, we’ve put together a list containing some of the best hiking spots and places to see the stunning blossoms, so that you can tread the miles yourself and make a more personal choice, and perhaps recommend a top-spot for a friend in the near future.
Best Spots to Hike and See Cherry Blossoms in Japan
Number One – Kanazawa (Kenrokuen Garden)
The Kenrokuen Garden happens to be one of Japan’s top-three best landscaped gardens, and even though it’s stunning to visit throughout the year, there’s an almost whimsical feel in the air come the cherry blossom season. Make sure you set aside at least one day if you plan on seeing the entire garden.
Kenrokuen Park, Kanazawa. Photo: Norio Nakayama
Number Two – Miharu (Takizakura)
Miharu Takizahura translated to the Waterfall Cherry Tree o Mihary, and since it’s over 1,000 years old, this massive cherry blossom tree has a trunk circumference of 9.5 meters thick and measures in at a whopping 12 meters high. Its arguably one of Japan’s iconic trees, so much so that the Japanese folk have named it one of the country’s 5 greatest cherry-tree-seeing sites, qualifying at as a hike you have to take on while in the area.
Miharu – Takizakura. Photo: saku_y
Number Three – Hirosaki Castle
Located at the northern tip of Honshu (Main Island), lies the iconic Hirosaki Castle, one of the top-three cherry blossom viewing sites in Japan. Since the castle lies located so far north, the blossoms here come out much later than those scattered over the rest of Japan’s land surface.
Hirosaki Cherry Blossoms. Photo: Quattro Photo
Number Four – Fukushima (Hanamiyama Park)
Known locally as the ‘flower viewing mountain’, Hanamiyama Park has its roots firmly planted in what was once the ornamental garden of local farmers of the Fukushima valley. The area is home to a massive variety of cherry trees which means that the colored varieties of blossom here is simply astounding.
Hanamiyama Park, Fukushima. Photo: Natt Muangsiri
Number Five – Nagano (Takato Castle Ruins)
The Takato Castle Ruins Park in Nagano is a sight you have to see during the months of April through to June. April month is also when the cherry blossom festival sees scores of Yatai stalls being set up around the park, ensuring that the show goes on here, even when the sun has set.
Takato Castle Ruin Park. Photo: かがみ～
Number Six – Mount Yoshino
Grab your hiking boots and head out to explore the magnificent landscapes of Mount Yoshino. Although the park boasts over 30,000 cherry trees, it’s a madhouse during the peak season, so you’d either be very brave or very daft to brave the landscapes here during the flowering season. You can still make the most of it, touristy attractions and all, if you get there real early in the morning and then avoiding the spots where most tourists take their pictures and purchase souvenirs!
Mount Yoshino. Photo: Kimon Berlin
Number Seven – Tokyo (Shinjuku Gyoen)
The chances that you’ll visit Tokyo while you’re in Japan are pretty good, so why not swing by Shinjuku Gyoen Park in the heart of the city? The park houses over 1,000 cherry blossom trees, some of which are early bloomers, while others reveal their magic a little later during the season.
Shinjuku Gyoen. Photo: z rahen
Number Eight – Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and after being closed for face-lifting purposes for five years, its back on the map again and ready to blow the minds of visitors from all walks of life. The castle itself is great to include in your sites to see during a hiking trip, but make sure you plan a trip during the spring months if you want to see the cherry blossoms on their best behavior!
Himeji Castle. Photo: Chi (in Oz)
Number Nine – Mount Fuji
Every year, Mount Fuji is surrounded by thousands of cherry blossoms, making it a double whammy of sightseeing experiences, one for the iconic mountain, and one for the famous blossoms! Try embracing the view from either Hakone or the Fuji Five Lakes region, which offers some of the best views.
Mount Fuji. Photo: Hideo
If you’re a hiker at heart and you have the need to see the stunning cherry blossoms of Japan, this post should have pointed you in the right direction as far as planning your itinerary goes. We hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and that it has given you that final push which will help you plan one of the most epic and scenic hiking adventures in Japan ever! With that being said, grab your pack, a great pair of hikers and buy a ticket to Japan! If you are already in Japan, then get out of your house and see some beautiful nature!