Known all over the world, the cherry blossoms of Japan are a gift from nature that you cannot miss. It is true that the beauty of these trees can be appreciated in different parts of the planet: in some regions of Washington, in Paris, in Stockholm and also in Spain, in the splendid Valle del Jerte; But Japan is still the first destination in the world to enjoy the cherry blossoms and the festivals that take place on the occasion of the arrival of spring. Especially if you travel by train, you will be surprised to discover the beauty of the Japanese landscape with the cherry blossoms.
The best time to see cherry blossoms is in early spring, when flowering reaches its peak. It is at the end of March and the beginning of April when Japanese and tourists have the opportunity to enjoy the cherry blossom festivities by sharing hanami with family and friends, a traditional “picnic” perfect to spend an unforgettable day in the shade of these magnificent trees.
The cherry tree is known as sakura and is a symbol of the Japanese country. It appears on coins and is named in many traditional songs, such as the popular “sakura, sakura”.
The symbolism of the Japanese cherry blossoms is intimately linked to the religion and foundations of Buddhism. The flower, in its moment of maximum splendor, is considered a metaphor for life itself, as fleeting as it is wonderful.
It is also related to the shape of the clouds that we see in the sky. Do you know when they are prettier and fluffier? Of course, at the peak of flowering.
WHERE TO ENJOY SAKURA
April is one of the best times to travel to Japan because it is when the cherry blossoms bloom and the sakura is celebrated, the arrival of spring, the rebirth of life. In 2020, the flowering season seems to be going a bit earlier, and its start is expected towards the end of March and until the middle of April.
If you want to travel to Japan and not miss that magical moment, when the cherry blossoms, take note of the best places to see them:
1. Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki)
This park located in Aomori prefecture, north of the main island of Japan, is home to 2,600 cherry trees that when they bloom create a spectacular landscape. Every spring, more than a million people visit this park in which Hirosaki Castle is located, with its 400 years of history and its unique architecture. Its silhouette, emerging among the cherry trees, is not easily forgotten.
To make the most of your visit, you can rent a small boat and navigate the river that surrounds the castle on whose shore the cherry trees approach as if wanting to touch the water.
The park is just a few minutes by bus from JR Hirosaki Train Station.
2. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokio)
This park is a very special place with its manicured grassy esplanades. There are thousands of cherry trees that live here along with other trees, also beautiful in the flowering season. It is a perfect stop for nature lovers because here, even if you arrive a week before or after the peak of the sakura festival celebration, you can always see flowering trees.
The park is a green oasis in the heart of Tokyo, among the towering towers that form the skyliner of the busy Shinjuku district. The contrast between the peace it exudes and the unstoppable rhythm of the big city is surprising.
Shinjuku Gyoen is very well connected, just 10 minutes from the station of the same name, one of the key stops in Tokyo that is part of the Yamanote circular train line. Remember that if you have the Japan Rail Pass you can use this line without limitations during the validity of the card.
3. Mitsuike Koen (Yokohama)
Mitsuike Koen has been included in the list of the 100 best places in Japan to see cherry blossoms. Part of its charm lies in the three beautiful ponds that adorn this park where thousands of cherry trees live. It is free to access and getting here is very easy. With your Japan Rail Pass you can take city bus number 104 from Shin-Yokohama Station or from Tsurumi Station.
4. Chureito Pagoda (Fuji Five Lakes)
This is a fascinating place especially if you are fond of photography because, at any time of the year, the small mound where the Chureito Pagoda stands offers spectacular views of the famous Mount Fuji.
During the month of April, the pagoda seems to rise above the “cloud” formed by the cherry blossoms, which extends almost to the towering mountain. If you want the best photos, go early in the morning when the lighting conditions are best. Access to the venue is free and you can walk about twenty minutes from Shimo Yoshida Station.
5. Parque de la Expo 70 (Osaka)
This was the site of the 1970 World’s Fair and now houses more than 5,000 cherry trees (one of the largest concentrations in all of Japan). Cherry trees adorn each of the paths that run through this public park, allowing you to stroll under its branches full of flowers. To get there, take the Osaka Monorail to Banpaku Kinen Koen Station.
6. Mihara Takizakura (Fukushima)
There are many locations where you can see cherry blossoms and most are sites that concentrate hundreds, if not thousands of trees, but Mihara Takizakura is a different place because it houses only one tree. Why, then, is it so special? Because it is the largest cherry tree in all of Japan and surely the most popular tree in the country. The takizakura (cherry tree that falls like a waterfall) is a magnificent specimen of the “weeping” cherry tree that is believed to be about 1,000 years old, without a doubt, a unique tree. It is located on one of the hills near the town of Miharu, near the city of Koriyama, in Fukushima prefecture.
No matter the place you choose, Japan dazzles all those who decide to discover its landscapes in the month of April and enjoy the beauty of blooming sakura. Your Japan Rail Pass in hand, is everything you need to get closer to the best sakura festivals in the whole country and reach the most beautiful places where to celebrate the best hanami. Choose your 7, 14 or 21 day JR Pass, book it and start packing. The most beautiful cherry blossom landscapes are just around the corner.