Japan, Nature, Seasonal

Sakura Season in Japan: All About Viewing the Cherry Blossom

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Visiting Japan during Sakura season is one for the bucket list. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Japan-lover, which you can probably sense from the sheer amount of posts I’ve written about Japan. I have visited Japan many times, but my favorite had to be when I went during the peak of  Sakura season.

Sakura Bloom

Here is a bit of a back story – when I booked this trip to Japan, I didn’t know it was going to be Sakura season. I went because I was meeting up with one of my best friends from college in Osaka, whom I hadn’t seen in person for close to eight years.

So it was already a huge trip for me, and the pleasant surprise only made the trip even more memorable.

Anyway, let’s move on to the Sakura!

What you need to know about Sakura season in Japan

Sakura season is indeed a very magical time to be in Japan. For two weeks, the entire country will be covered in a pink blanket of the delicate Sakura flower. The Sakura trees are everywhere in Japan. You can already see bits and pieces of of them as you are taking the train into the city from the airport.

Sakura tree in full bloom
A neighborhood river in Kyoto full of Sakura
Sakura tree in Nara

When is the best time to see Sakura in Japan?

The Sakura season varies each year from mid-March to late-April. Sakura season is such an important time in Japan that each year there is an official Sakura forecast published by the Japan Weather Association.

Sakura Forecast: For us English speakers, we can find a translation of the Sakura forecast here, including the predicted best time for viewing.

Sakura flowers are quite fragile and they fall off very easily. Each time the wind blows even just a little bit, a drone of pink petals would rain down all around you. While this undoubtedly makes for a beautiful sight, this also means the flowers won’t stay around long – it could take as short as one week from the start of the bloom to the pink petals falling off. I heard it could be even shorter if it happens to rain a lot that year.

Sakura trees in Nara

Although Sakura trees can be found everywhere in Japan, we have to remember that Japan is a country that goes long from North to South. The temperature varies from one tip of the country to another and because of that, the Sakura season also varies from region to region depending on where they sit geographically.

Generally, the southern area warms up first and the Sakura trees in those areas would bloom earlier, while the Northern area might not see Sakura blooming until a month later. This is why the forecast is such a big deal, as it allows visitors to maximize their time in Japan.

Sika Deer in Nara
Sika Deer under Sakura tree
Playing with Sika deer in Nara
Playing with Sika deer under Sakura Trees in Nara

Hanami: The Japanese Sakura-viewing tradition

Sakura is an important part of Japanese culture – important enough to warrant its emoji! 🌸🌸

For centuries, the Japanese have celebrated the blooming of Sakura as a happy mark to the start of spring and to welcome warmer weather. At the peak of Sakura bloom, locals would flock to the nearest park and have a picnic party with friends and family while enjoying the sight of Sakura.

This tradition is called Hanami. In Japanese, it is written as 花見 which means “flower-watching” – Hana 花 means “flowers” and Mi 見 means “to watch”.

If you happen to be in Japan during this time you can participate in Hanami, but you need to know what to expect – the parks can get very crowded, and getting the best viewing spot is extremely competitive.

You can read more about Hanami and etiquette during Hanami here.

You don’t have to actually picnic though, you can also just visit the park and just walk around while enjoying the flowers. This is what we did when we visited Arashiyama in Kyoto – we found a park by the river with tons of Sakura trees and just sat around while watching the pink flower. There are usually plenty of street food and snack vendors around the park in case you get hungry.

River-side Park near Arashiyama, Kyoto
Sakura trees in Arashiyama Park

More fun facts about Sakura in Japan

Okay so I have these random Sakura facts in my head so I’ll pass the knowledge to you since I think they are fascinating:

Most Sakura trees you find in Japan have identical DNA. This is because Sakura trees do not produce seeds – they are grafted through a technique called tsugiki. When you see Sakura trees in Japan, most of them are probably Someiyoshino hybrid, which was artificially created and favored due to their soft pink color. Since they are reproduced through grafting, all Someiyoshino trees have identical DNA, which is why the blooming and falling of the flowers can be predicted and tend to happen at the same time.

Sakura petals everywhere

Ume (Plum) trees bloom before Sakura. If you are in Japan before the Sakura season, you might notice another type of flower blooming – don’t get these confused with Sakura! They might actually be Plum flowers, aka Ume, which tends to be the first flower that blooms in the Spring. The blooming of Ume trees has been said to be a more accurate indicator of when Sakura will bloom, as it usually follows soon after.

Ume? Flowers
Ume? Flowers

Traditional Food You Can Enjoy During the Sakura Season in Japan

I think having seasonal food and sweets is the most traditional way to welcome the Sakura and warmer spring season. Here are some food and snacks you definitely should try!

1. Hanami Dango 🍡

My favorite is the Hanami Dango (花見団子) – yes, it’s THAT 🍡 mysterious emoji. Japanese people eat Dango (rice dumplings) as a snack all year round – but this variation with pink, white, and green is traditionally eaten during Hanami or spring season.

The pink color comes from either the Sakura flower itself or azuki (red beans) and the green is from green tea. It is said that the pink, white, and green symbolize the blooming Sakura, the white sky, and the green grass the trees grow on.

Hanami Dango

2. Sakura Mochi

I also loved Sakura Mochi (桜餅), which is a beautiful pink rice cake with sweet red bean paste in the middle, wrapped in pickled sakura leaf. There are two versions of sakura mochi, one made with rice flour (Kanto/Tokyo style) or glutinous rice (Kansai style). Since I was in Kansai during my trip, I had the Kansai-style Sakura Mochi!

Sakura Mochi in Arashiyama, Kyoto

3. Pretty much anything Sakura-flavored

During Sakura season, you’ll notice the country will be filled with Sakura-flavored food items. The Japanese (understandably) love to incorporate Sakura into their food, most notably into their desserts. Every restaurant seems to have limited edition Sakura food items, including big chains like Starbucks, Kit Kat, Haagen Daz, just to name a few. So make sure to peek into their Sakura seasonal menu!

You don’t even have to try super hard, sometimes you can even find a regular pink-tinged sakura soft serve ice cream like this one below at the park itself:

Sakura Soft Serve Ice Cream
Sakura Soft Serve Ice Cream

Alright, I hope that helps! I’ll end this post with a photo of us goofing off in front of Sakura trees, which is basically what we did 90% of the time we were there :p

Sakura? We don't care
You bet I took a selfie there
If you didn’t take a selfie, did it really happen?

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Filed under: Japan, Nature, Seasonal

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →


  1. Travel in pictures says

    The Cherry Blossom during the spring is amazing.
    We took spectacular photos and enjoyed a wonderful family trip.

  2. Patricia ribeiro says

    Dear Melissa

    What a great surprise to find your blog!
    I’m going to Japan for the first time, by the end of March especially to see the sakuras.
    Thank you for sharing all these great tips, it will help me a lot!

    Hugs from Brazil

  3. Untari travel notes says

    Oh yumm. Eat dango under those sakura blossom will be 100% perfecto

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