25 Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms In & Around Tokyo
Known as ‘sakura’ in Japanese, cherry blossoms are synonymous with Japan and for many Japanese embody the fragile beauty of life itself. The enjoyment of the blossoms is enhanced by an understanding that they won’t remain for long, something to be cherished for their fleeting nature as much as their beauty.
Blooming each spring, enjoying the blossoms is perhaps the quintessential Japanese experience, with many international visitors heading here just to see the fabled flowers. While the exact date of bloom is hard to predict and varies across the different regions of the country, we can certainly provide assured recommendations of best spots to enjoy the blossoms in and around Tokyo.
The list below starts in Tokyo – which typically blooms from mid to late-March or as late as early-April – before we lead you out of the capital to some other top spots including around Mount Fuji. From there our recommendations lead you into Nagano and Central Japan and ultimately, well away from the capital to the north coast including Toyama and Kanazawa.
Why do we do this? While Tokyo and Fuji are blessed with many great blossom spots, expect to be sharing them with thousands of other people. For that reason, if you’re looking to enjoy the blossoms with a little more space to breathe and in some spectacular natural settings, heading to Central Japan just might appeal to you. Our recommendations are based on the most beautiful spots which are easy to access using the train network including Hokuriku Shinkansen running from Tokyo to Kanazawa via Nagano. The Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by the following Japan Rail (JR) Passes: the full JR Pass / JR East Pass / JR Hokuriku Arch Pass.
Given the higher altitude of the region, the blossoms of Nagano and Central Japan bloom notably later than Tokyo – typically from around early-April through to the end of the month. Each spot below includes a ‘best’ timing to visit, based on the typical peak bloom each year. While this can’t be guaranteed, it highlights that the blossoms of Nagano bloom later than Tokyo. So if you miss the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, jump on the train and head this way!
Based in Nagano, we offer two cherry blossom group tours each spring and can arrange private tours and charters to the best blossom spots in Central Japan including accommodation – scroll to the bottom of the page for details. We hope the following information is of assistance in planning your spring visit to Japan:
TOKYO / best: mid to late-March
Visitors to Tokyo are spoiled for choice when it comes to enjoying cherry blossoms, with the capital boasting multiple famous spots and an abundance of trees. Of course, being Tokyo, expect big crowds around any of the spots listed here and noting that they are just a few of the many areas around the city blessed with cherry blossoms.
Considered by many as Tokyo’s most enjoyable garden, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden lies to the west of Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace and boasts around 1100 trees of more than twelve varieties. The gardens are beautiful and feature expansive open areas on which visitors can sit. The variety of cherry trees within the gardens mean that they bloom at different stages, prolonging the time in which visitors can enjoy the spectacular display.
Immediately accessible from Ueno Station, Ueno Park is another expansive area – over 500,000 squared metres of parkland and home to around 800 cherry trees – mostly found around the central avenue of the park. Expect the park to be crowded so get there early to ensure a good spot.
One of Tokyo’s most famous and popular parks, Yoyogi Park isn’t as well-known for its blossoms however it still boasts more than 800 trees and plenty of space for larger groups to sit-down and enjoy themselves. As always, Yoyogi is a great people-watching spot making it worth visiting to enjoy all the activity in the park set against the blossoms.
Another of Tokyo’s most popular viewing-spots, the Meguro River is a long stretch of around 800 cherry trees on both banks, at their most spectacular at night when lit-up by the hanging lanterns. It is worth noting however that the river and its banks are entirely concreted and given its popularity, it can be very hard to find somewhere to sit. Best enjoyed at night, we recommend heading elsewhere during the day.
For visitors wanting a more open and natural setting, Hamarikyu Gardens are some of the best in Tokyo. Home to only a small number of cherry tress – only around 100 – Hamaryikyu doesn’t draw the crowds of other gardens and parks but its spectacular landscape and traditional features including arched bridges and teahouses allow for a truly pleasurable experience, not to mention some great photography. Accessible by river cruise from Asakusa and other points along the Sumida River, enjoying a river boat allows visitors to also enjoy some of the best trees in Tokyo. Trees line the banks at points along the river including Sumida Park, from where you can embark or disembark the cruise.
Less well-known for international visitors, Asukayama Park has around 600 trees spread through a hill-top park near JR Oji Station. One of Tokyo’s oldest cherry blossom spots, the park is popular locals and has some beautiful views of the trees from above.
Finally, no list of blossoms spots in the capital can ignore Chidorigafuchi and the trees surrounding the Imperial Palace. Within walking distance of Tokyo Station, this is the most central, large cherry blossom-viewing spot in the capital – a spectacular area of trees lining the moats around the castle and imperial heart of Japan.
MOUNT FUJI, YAMANASHI / best: mid to late-March
Heading-out of Tokyo, Mount Fuji is perhaps the most popular day-trip from the capital – around 3-hours using public transport – and an iconic area to enjoy the blossoms. Given its size, there are numerous vantage points surrounding Fuji from where you can enjoy some spectacular views, starting with the shores of Kawawguchi-ko – one of five large bodies of water making-up Fujigoko or the ‘Fuji Five Lakes’. Of the five, Kawaguchi-ko is the easiest to access and offers the most attractions around its shores. On a fine day, the views of Fuji from Kawaguchi-ko are truly fantastic and based on that reputation, the area surrounding Kawaguchi-ko has been developed with hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and cafés, museums, shops, markets and more. Cherry trees line the shores in many spots allowing for spectacular views of the mountain with the blossoms in the foreground.
Similarly, nearby Chureito Pagoda is known for its fantastic view of the volcano and one of the area’s most iconic photography spots, with many visitors heading there to capture an image of the mountain behind the pagoda. In spring, numerous cherry trees leading to and surrounding the pagoda make it even more spectacular – noting that it is likely to be crowded for just that reason.
Lying to the north-west of Kawaguchi-ko, Oshino Hakkai is a reconstructed traditional village centred around eight naturally occurring ponds. Bridges and paths lead between the ponds and past traditional thatch-roofed buildings – a beautiful setting from which to view Mount Fuji looming nearby. In spring, blossoms imbue the village and scene with rare beauty and afford some of the best views and photography of Fuji.
INA, NAGANO / best: early-April
Regularly cited as one of Japan’s top blossom-viewing spots, Takato Castle Ruins Park is – as the name suggests – is located on the foundations and ruins of a former castle. A common theme throughout this list, the former castle grounds are now a public park and home to over 1500 ‘kohigan’ blossom trees.
In full bloom, the canopy of white and pink floats about the expansive grounds of the park, which draws visitors from all over Japan. Renowned as one of the best blossoms spots in the entire country, it is no surprise that it plays host to an official festival, timed for ‘mankai’ (peak bloom), with festival dates announced early each year as the blossom forecast is released. Evening is a particularly beautiful time to visit, as the trees are lit-up and the canopy of blossoms glows pink in the night.
Festival stalls selling food, snacks and drinks along with traditional games for children pop-up throughout the park, with traditional music performances combining to keep the many visitors entertained and well-fed throughout the day and into the night. Given its popularity, roads leading to the park can become highly congested with public transport also crowded. For that reason, we suggest enjoying the park as an overnight trip from Tokyo and recommend booking a nearby hotel so you can enjoy the blossoms at night – just make sure to book your accommodation well in advance.
Takato Castle Ruins Park is a little tricky to get to by train from Tokyo. During the festival, express bus services run from/to Shinjuku Station or should you wish to endeavor with the train, head to Inashi Station from where local buses run to the park – another 25-minutes followed by a 15-minute walk – in total, around a 3 to 4-hour journey. If that all sounds a bit too difficult, our 1-Day Takato Castle Park Cherry Blossom Tour runs from/to Nagano Station and combines a visit to the park with Matsumoto Castle’s blossom festival – see below for details.
KOMORO, NAGANO / best: early-April
Another spot often cited as one of Japan’s best to enjoy the blossoms of spring, Komoro Castle Park is easy to reach from Tokyo using the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Karuizawa, followed by the local Shinano Railway to Komoro Station – a total journey time of around 1.5 to 2-hours from Tokyo. Much like Takato, Komoro Kaikoen is another park set on the ruins of a castle dating back to the 15th century.
Only the walls and gate remain, marking the entrance to the park and your immersion within the 500-odd blossom trees including the classic ‘yoshino’. ‘shidarezakura’, ‘higanzakura’ and local ‘Komoro yaebenishidare’ varieties. To celebrate the bloom, the park plays host to a spring festival with the usual array of vendors, families and groups of friends setting-up in the park to enjoy the beauty of the blossoms with plenty of food and drink.
UEDA, NAGANO / best: early-April
Ueda Castle Park is blessed with numerous blossom trees set within the picturesque grounds, sitting atop the foundations of the former castle. Though the castle is now gone, several reconstructed buildings sit among the splendid blossom trees, which along with numerous food stalls and vendors during peak bloom, makes Ueda one of the most popular blossom-viewing destination in Nagano.
In mid-April, the park plays host to the ‘Ueda Castle Sen-Bon Sakura Festival’ – another hugely popular festival which draws visitors from all over Japan. Translating as the ‘1000 Cherry Trees’ festival, you get a sense of just what to expect – countless spectacular trees in bloom spread across the broad grounds of the park.
As expected, plenty of vendors are on-hand to make sure you’re well-fed and drinks are in steady supply, with the canopy lit-up at night it is a truly magical atmosphere and easily enjoyed from Tokyo. The park is within 15-minutes walk of Ueda Station, a convenient stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen running from Tokyo – around 1.5 hours from Tokyo.
NAGANO CITY, NAGANO / early-April to mid-April
Around 20-minutes walk from Nagano Station, the city’s famous Zenko-ji Temple/Joyama Park precinct is the best spot to see the blossoms in central Nagano City. The near-1400 year old temple complex has several spectacular trees which set against the beauty of the historic buildings and streetscape offer some truly beautiful photography.
Around 5-minutes walk from Zenko-ji, Joyama Park is known for its stunning array of blossoms. A popular spotfor the residents of Nagano to enjoy the bloom each spring, a walking path circles around the park under the trees while the park itself has plenty of open space to put down a blanket and enjoy some food, drinks and conversation with friends and family.
Only 80 to 110-minutes from Tokyo Station using the Hokuriku Shinkansen (depending on which service you choose), Nagano Station is the pickup and drop-off point for our two cherry blossom group tours – allowing guests to travel from Tokyo on the morning of the tour and return afterward, should that be convenient.
Our special event Takato Castle Park Cherry Blossom Tour typically operates in the first week of April before our main Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano Tour kicks-off and runs until the blossoms are done. Both tours are led by a locally-based guide and include lunch and transport to some of the best blossom spots in Nagano – scroll to the bottom for further details!
Around 30-minutes by local bus from Nagano Station, Matsushiro Castle Park is the central focus of Nagano’s famous samurai town – Matsushiro – and blessed with some of the region’s most beautiful blossoms. While all original structures other than the foundation walls are now gone, several buildings including the park’s impressive gate have been thoughtfully restored with many mature cherry blossoms trees now populating the park. Typically blooming in the first week of April, the Matsushiro Spring Cherry Blossom Festival takes place of the second Saturday of the month, with performances and events happening in the park with the usual array of food and drink vendors on-hand to ensure an enjoyable day-out.
Heading-out of Nagano City to Suzaka – around 20 to 25-minutes by train from Nagano Station – Suzaka Garyu Park is a fantastic option for visitors wanting to enjoy a truly local ‘hanami’ (blossom-viewing) event. Encircling a lake and lined with blossom trees, when in full bloom Suzaka Garyu is a stunning sight, popular with local families and friends.
During peak bloom, food stalls and other vendors are popular with local residents, who stroll slowly around the lake savouring the sights, smells, and tastes of Japan in spring.
MATSUMOTO, NAGANO / best: early-April
As one of Central Japan’s most iconic landmarks, Matsumoto Castle is also a popular cherry blossom-viewing location. The sight of the castle – surrounded by pink blooms with the snow-capped peaks of the Northern Alps shining in the distance – has become representative of spring in the region. Matsumoto Station can be reached using the Limited Express Azusa from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo – a journey of around 2.5 hours.
Located only 15 minutes walk from Matsumoto Station, this easily accessible and iconic cherry blossom-viewing spot can be enjoyed in combination with other popular Matsumoto’s sightseeing spots such as Nakamachi, Nawate Street and the Matsumoto City Museum of Art. .
The castle grounds play host to an annual blossom festival timed to coincide with peak bloom – the exact timing of this event therefore varies from year-to-year and is a little tricky to predict. As the weather warms and the bloom can be forecast with some level of certainty, the official beginning of the cherry blossom season will be announced and the festivals will begin three days later. The Night-time Cherry Blossom Viewing will run for eight days and Corridor of Lights will run for ten days.
Also located in Matsumoto, around 20-minutes drive from the station, Koboyama Koen is another public park known for its beautiful array of pink cherry trees. Unlike other parks included on this list, Koboyama sits on an ancient burial mound rather than castle ruins and as such, is a hugely important cultural and archaeological site dating from the 3rd century/the Kofun Period. One of the oldest known tombs in the region, visitors who want to learn more about the Kofun Period can also visit nearby Nakayama Cultural History Museum.
To a clear day, sitting in the park surrounded by the cherry blossoms offers true relaxation and beautiful photography, with the snow-capped North Alps sitting in the background.
AZUMINO, NAGANO / best: early-April
Lying in the rural enclave of Azumino, Hikarujoyama is known for its 400 metre corridor of blossom trees that rise along the side of the small mountain. Known locally as the ‘Rising Dragon Sakura Trail’, you won’t find many non-locals here but visitors that do make the journey from Tokyo and beyond can enjoy some spectacular blossoms and warm reception from locals. The trees reach full bloom progressively, from the lower reaches to the top, with the uppermost trees blooming later than those at Matsumoto Castle. The path is lit by hanging lanterns at night but there are no shops or stalls along the path, so be prepared before you go. Azumino is around 20 to 30-minutes further on from Matsumoto Station, accessible using the Oito Line.
IIYAMA, NAGANO / best: mid-April
Around 15-munites walk from Iiyama Station, Iiyama Joshi Park is another public park sitting on the foundations of a former castle, boasting some beautiful blossom trees and popular with local residents. A couple of a small reconstructed buildings provide a glimpse of what once stood there with the main focus well and truly on the many large blossom trees in the park.
While the park can’t boast the same popularity or profile as Takato or Ueda – discussed above – Iiyama Joshi is spectacular when in full bloom. A small festival takes place each spring with a handful of vendors setting-up in the park. The real attraction of Iiyama is however that it is notably quieter than other more famous blossom sites yet easily accessible from Tokyo using the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Iiyama Station – around 100-minutes from the capital – and a great excuse to combine a morning or afternoon enjoying the blossoms before heading onto nearby Nozawa Onsen for a night or two of hot springs and relaxation.
JOETSU-MYOKO, NIIGATA / best: early-April
Heading far to the north of Tokyo, the area of Joetsu-Myoko is readily accessible using the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyou to Joetsu-Myoko Station – taking around 2 hours to reach. Once there, a simple onward journey of only 10-minutes by bus or taxi will have you at Takada Castle Park, one of the largest and most spectacular blossom-viewing spots in Japan.
Home to around 4000 cherry trees, the park plays host to the Takada Castle Sakura Festival in the first week of April – an event that attracts thousands of visitors to enjoy the spectacular bloom. Always popular, the size of park and many areas where you can sit to enjoy the blossoms, make it well worth the effort of getting to, with lots of food vendors on-site to keep you well-fed and refreshed.
At night, around 3000 trees and the reconstructed castle are illuminated, making it worthwhile to book accommodation in the area so you can enjoy the beautiful evening display to its fullest. Closer to the coast than areas in Nagano, full bloom is likely to be early-April.
TOYAMA CITY, TOYAMA / best: early-April
Another stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, Toyama City is a pleasant coastal city best known for its seafood – some of the best in Japan! In spring, Toyama’s Matsukawa Park is known for its cherry trees that line the banks of the Matsukawa River. More than 400 classic ‘somei yoshino’ trees form a spectacular border along the river, under which visitors can stroll on a riverside walking path or enjoy by river boat.
River boats that operate daily from 09:30 to 17:00 on weekdays and from 09:00 to 17:30 on weekends, with the trees then illuminated in the evening.
Toyama Station is around 2.5 hours from Tokyo using the shinkansen allowing you to head there and back on the same day. However, we recommend going slow and enjoying at least one night. Closer to the coast than areas in Nagano, full bloom is likely to be early-April.
KANAZAWA, ISHIKAWA / best: early-April
The attractive city of Kanazawa is a popular stop on the route from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. One of the region’s most historic cities, Kanazawa is blessed with some great blossoms that accentuate the heritage and aesthetic beauty of the city. Kenrokuen Garden is of course the obvious place to start.
Opened to the public in 1871, the garden was originally reserved for the ruling Maeda clan, whom behind the Togukawa Shogunate were the wealthiest and most powerful family during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Water features, landscaped gardens, bridges, viewpoints and teahouses make the garden very pleasant to wander through, with the blossoms of spring imbuing the garden with rare beauty.
Adjacent to the garden, Kanazawa Castle Park is our final recommendation. While the majority of the structure is a reconstruction – the Ishikawa-mon Gate and two store houses being exceptions – the buildings have been beautifully restored with the surrounding grounds highly manicured and blessed with some beautiful trees, with plenty of space to wander and enjoy the historic precinct at is most spectacular.
Kanazawa is the northern terminus of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. A 3-hour journey from Tokyo. Closer to the coast than areas in Nagano, full bloom is likely to be early-April.
JOIN A GUIDED CHERRY BLOSSOM TOUR IN NAGANO!
Operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator and come each spring, we are happy to offer two group tours that transport guests to some of the region’s best blossom-viewing spots!
Both tours start and finish at Nagano Station, allowing guests to join us on the day from Tokyo, and should you wish to, return to there at the end of the day. Tour start and end times are coordinated to match shinkansen times operating to and from Nagano from the capital.
Our Special Event: Takato Castle Park Cherry Blossom Tour combines a visit to the renowned blossom spot – considered one of Japan’s best – with lunch at a nearby restaurant and visit to Matsumoto Castle for its blossom festival. With transport included and all led by a locally-based guide, this tour is a great way to enjoy two of Central Japan’s best cherry blossom spots without the hassle of public transport. Exact tour dates will be announced once the festival schedule – timed to coincide with the peak bloom – is made public.
Through April, our 1-Day Snow Monkeys & Cherry Blossoms in Nagano Tour is one of our most popular! Combining a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park with lunch and afternoon of blossom-viewing, this tour captures the essence of Nagano in spring. Afternoon blossom-viewing spots are chosen based on where the flowers are at their best on the day and cannot therefore be confirmed prior to the tour.
But rest assured, we do this to ensure our guests have the best possible experience on the day and plenty of the spots mentioned above – plus a couple of secret ones! – are on the list of possible sites.
BOOK A PRIVATE CHERRY BLOSSOM TOUR IN NAGANO!
Locally-based and operating all year round, we have the local knowledge of where and when to go, to help you discover and enjoy the region’s many wonderful attractions including the stunning cherry blossoms of Central Japan.
As a registered travel agent, we can package your next trip to Nagano and Central Japan including transport, accommodation, tours, restaurants and more! For guests wanting to access the best blossom spots in the comfort of their own transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter customised to fit your needs, starting and ending at any destination.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity schedule that suits your interests and travel itinerary.
Vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about seeing the blossoms in Central Japan? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!