Don’t miss: Japan’s best Sakura Festivals of 2018!
In the blink of an eye, we are arriving in spring. Although winter is not entirely over, many Japanese and travelers to the country are looking forward to the symbol of spring, sakura!
Before we introduce the sakura festivals that will be taking place all over Japan in 2018, let’s talk about the sakura tree itself . The sakura flower is the symbol of spring as it marks the coming of warmer weather. Sakura flowers start to bloom as temperatures begin to rise, meaning that sakura will blossom first in the warmest part of Japan (the southern islands of Okinawa) and last in the coldest part of Japan (Hokkaido). In Okinawa, the sakura will start to bloom around mid-January and in Hokkaido, they will not bloom until May. This south-to-north blooming pattern allows us to enjoy beautiful sakura flowers at any time between January and May. You just have to be in the right place.
For travelers who’ve come from across the seas just to see the spectacular sakura flowers, we probably want to see lots of flowers in an open space, with the chance to take photos without any passersby. These gigantic sakura festivals with lots of blossoming trees will be the answer to your prayers!
1. Kawazu Sakura Festival
Let’s begin with the one that is closest and easiest to get to from Tokyo's metropolitan area. Kawazu Sakura Festival is held every year around the Kawazu river in Kawazu, Shizuoka. The city itself is famed for its unique “Kawazu sakura”, which can be seen during the festival.
Here in Kawazu, there are approximately 8,000 Kawazu sakura trees growing along both sides of Kawazu river, which runs almost four kilometers in length. This makes it possible for you to roam along the rive banks and take a lot of sakura photos in peace. The most unique characteristic of Kawazu sakura is its vivid pink color that distinguishes it from sakura you see elsewhere. Kawazu sakura start blooming one month before the sakura in Tokyo, around the beginning of February to the beginning of March. As this sakura blooms for more than a month, it is easy to plan your visit.
Details: Kawazu Sakura Festival
Date: 10 Feb to 10 Mar, 2018
Location: Kawazu Station (approx. 160 minutes from Tokyo Station by train)
2. Fuji-Shiba Sakura Festival
Another sakura viewing spot not too far from Tokyo’s city center is the “Fuji Shiba Sakura”, a sakura garden near Mount Fuji that allows you to photograph the spectacular Shiba sakura alongside Japan’s national landmark - Mount Fuji. On a clear day, you can get one of Japan’s most spectacular shots!
Although the name Shiba sakura might imply that it is a sakura tree, in fact is a pink moss that lays close to the ground. But it still ignites with vivid colors, unique characteristics and a beauty that you cannot find anywhere else.
For people who prefer a variety of colors, Shiba sakura will satisfy with its diverse color range, from vivid pink to pastel purple and even white. With these contrasts and Mount Fuji in the background, there’s nothing more you could ask for.
Details: Fuji Shiba Sakura Festival
Date: 14 Apr to 27 May, 2018 8:00 - 17:00
Ticket price: Adult 600 Yen, Children (under 3 years old) 250 Yen
Location: Fuji Motosuko Resort (approx. two hours from Shinjuku by train or bus. Please check the link below for more details.)
3. Hirosaki Sakura Festival
The last festival we would like to recommend is the Hirosaki Sakura Festival in Hirosaki, Aomori. Although the location is quite far from Tokyo, the garden is such a classic that no one should miss it. The Hirosaki Gardens sprawl around the Hirosaki Castle, a historical site with beautiful architecture, and with sakura trees growing on both sides of the river, it’s like time-traveling back to old Japan.
Sakura trees in Hirosaki start blooming around a month after those in Tokyo, so people who miss their chance in Tokyo can still see this magical sight in Aomori even at the end of April. In addition to the beautiful daytime scenes, the Hirosaki Gardens feature sakura illumination at night, so don’t be afraid to hang around until it’s dark because you are in for a treat.
Details: Hirosaki Sakura Festival
Date: 21 Apr to 6 May, 2018 7:00 - 21:00
Ticket price: Adult 310 Yen, Primary school children and below 100 Yen
Location: Hirosaki Park (approx. 3 hours 45 mins by Shinkansen from Ueno, Tokyo)
We hope this article will help you to travel deeper and further into the heart of Japan. There’s more to Japan than Tokyo and its big cities and there are plenty more sakura viewing places to enjoy.
Tourist Note JAPAN