In Spring the famed trees in Japan begin to blossom. They are a beautiful sight to see and bring thousands of tourists to the island nation. The trees are all over Japan, but there are some places that offer a more spectacular view than others. Finding these places can be a little troublesome but can be worth the extra effort.
What’s so Important About Sakura?
First you may wonder what is so special about these flowers, other than looking so beautiful for a short period of time. The flower is steeped in Japanese tradition and has ties to Buddhism. The flower represents life by showing how it begins as buds moving to beautiful flowers and withering away as it passes for the new leaves to emerge. It is used in many foods and drinks during this time as well. During this time there are other plume blossom that bloom and look like cherry blossoms as well. They are also beautiful so view and can be seen near other sakura trees.
The act of flower viewing is called “hanami” in Japanese. It is where you and your friends and family enjoy watching sakura trees and have a picnic. The common foods are sakura dango and sake. You can eat anything you want as there are no strict rules on food for the viewing party. It is a common tradition that almost everyone in Japan will do during the blooming season. It is used as a great way for companies to develop teamwork by having company viewing parties.
Shinjuku Gyoen – Tokyo
This particular park has a unique feature in that it has sakura trees that bloom early and bloom late. This allows more people to be able to enjoy the beautiful spectacle of the cherry blossoms. There are over one thousand sakura trees in the park, and it offers a large viewing area to enjoy your hanami. When you are finished viewing the sakura you can enjoy the entertaining sights of Shinjuku as well.
Mihara Takizakura – Fukushima
With most of the viewing areas boasting hundreds or thousands of trees, this particular park has only one. This tree is said to be one of the greatest trees in all of Japan. It is a weeping cherry tree, or waterfall cherry tree, that is claimed to be over one thousand years old. It is located near Miharu Town and is one of the most viewed spots for the blossom season. Though many may still remember the Fukushima accident, it is not an area affected by it and is safe for viewing and sightseeing.
Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima
Peace Memorial park is not only a fantastic place to see Japanese history and learn of the past conflicts, it is also a wonderful cherry blossom tree viewing spot. The large park has the Motoyasu River running through it’s center, and the banks of it are lined with sakura trees. You can spend the day learning about the past events, and at night enjoy the illuminated tress in the park. You hire a tour guide to take you to all the sites and show you the trees during prime viewing time.
Philosophers’s Path – Kyoto
The philosopher’s Path is a stone path that runs through Kyoto’s Higayashi district. It is two kilometers long and begins at Ginkakuji and ends at Nanzenji. It is a famous area in Kyoto that draws many tourists, and it has tour groups that can show you the best sights and explain its history. If you wait until April the path will be lined with cherry trees from beginning to end. It is truly on of the premiere spots to view in Japan. Some of Japan’s most famous philosophers would walk this path during their meditation.
Takato Castle Park – Nagano
Located in Ina City in Nagano prefecture, this particular site is lauded as one of the top three viewing spots in Japan. There are around 1500 cherry trees that cover the castle grounds and offers a site like no other in Japan. Some of the trees were planted in 1875 when the park was first opened to the public and they are still blooming in shades of pink and white. A cherry blossom festival that is held there and it lasts for the entire month of April. Festival stalls are set up on the castle grounds and there is even illumination once the sun sets.
Chureito Pagoda – Fuji Five Lakes
This five-story pagoda is set overlooking Fujiyoshida City. It is part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine and was built in 1963 as a peace memorial. It boasts a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji along with hundreds of cherry trees blossoming in mid-April. For this reason alone, it is seen as a sought-after spot for photographers in Japan. Admission is free for everyone and it is a short twenty-minute walk from Shimo Yoshida station.
These are only a few places in Japan to see the wonderful tress in all of their beauty. Every town has their own places to view and enjoy hanami. There are some that have more than others but remember that every famous spot will be crowded with other viewers trying to get the best spots for viewing. Plan out your trip accordingly and try to get to the viewing areas early to get the spots possible. Then relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Japan.