The ultimate way to spend spring here in Japan: Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. This article introduces some of the best places to view these beautiful flowers, as well as some restaurants to take a detour to. The best time to see sakura vary from place to place, so take a look at this article to prep in advance!
1. Ueno Park (Tokyo)
Ueno Park is one of the most famous hanami spots in not just Tokyo, but all of Japan. It started becoming known for its sakura trees roughly 400 years ago, and is currently home to over 1,200 sakura trees, many of them which are planted along Sakura-dori (Sakura Street). You will get to see these pale pink flowers blossom if you visit between late March to early April. The Ueno Sakura Festival, where you can enjoy the sight of sakura illuminated by lamps, is also held around this time.
Italian and Bar, Aqua uenokoen-mae Branch (Keisei Ueno / Italian Cuisine)
The locals give much praise in the variety of Italian cuisine offered in the vibrant atmosphere of this restaurant. The restaurant's top recommendation is the popular [Rotisserie Chicken] (2,680 JPY), which is slowly roasted at 150℃ to retain all the umami (Japanese savory taste) and goes amazingly well with wine. Don't miss the tasty [Margherita] (from 780 JPY), accented by mozzarella cheese and basil, either. This restaurant is located a 5-minute walk away from Ueno Park.
Italian and Bar, Aqua uenokoen-mae Branch
: 11:00 am - 11:30 pm (last order 11:00 pm)Closed
: None Average price
: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,980 JPYAccess
: 30 seconds-walking from Keisei Ueno station. After the exit, go up the step in indoor passage. Cross the zebra crossing and turn to left. Located on the Front Bldg. 1F.Address
: 1F, 2-14-30 Ueno , Taito-ku, Tokyo
)More Details Reservation
Yoshi Sushi Ueno branch (Ueno / Sushi)
At Yoshi Sushi Ueno branch, the head chef is responsible for selecting fresh and seasonal seafood from the market to make sushi. The signature [Super Premium Sushi] (2,800 JPY) is a big meal sushi set that consists mostly of luxurious sushi, including maguro (tuna), uni (sea urchin), and ikura (salmon roe). Niigata-brand Koshihikari is used as the shari (rice base) of the sushi, and the set also includes red miso soup. This sushi restaurant is a 7-minute walk from Ueno Park.
Yoshi Sushi Ueno branch
: [Weekdays] Lunch: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm / Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:30 pm)More Details
2. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo)
Located between the buildings of a corner of Shinjuku, one of the busiest locations in the nation, is Shinjuku Gyoen, a vast park full of greenery. About 65 varieties of 1,100 cherry blossom trees are planted in the park, and the earliest flowers bloom around the middle of Feburary. The best time to see the sakura is from late March to late April. During the first two weeks, approximately 400 Yoshino cherry trees bloom, and in the latter half, you'll see 300 double-flowered cherry trees in bloom.
Raika Shinjukugyoen (Shinjuku-gyoemmae / Chinese Cuisine)
This famous restaurant offers "nouvelle chinois", a new kind of Chinese cuisine based on traditional Shanghai food that incorporates Japanese ingredients and Western elements. One of the most delectable dishes there is the [Blue Shark Fin Stew from Kesennuma with Shanghai-style Sauce] (from 8,000 JPY for 100g). Choose your favorite sauce from 4 to 6 options, and enjoy this luxurious dish! Raika Shinjukugyoen is only 3 minutes away from Shinjuku Gyoen on foot.
: Lunch 11:30 - 15:00 (last order 14:00) / Dinner 17:30 - 23:00 (last order 21:30)Closed
: NoneAverage price
: [Dinner] 8,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,000 JPYAccess
: A 2-minute walk from exit 2 of Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Shinjuku-Gyoen station. A 10-minute walk from exit E5 of Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line, Shinjuku-Sanchome station.Address
: 1F Itchome Sanbankan , 1-3-12 Shinjuku , Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
)More Details Reservation
3. Sakura at Mt. Yoshino (Nara)
Every year from early to late April, around 30,000 Shiroyama sakura blossom in the Shimo-senbon and Naka-senbon areas. The best spot to get a panoramic view of this sight is Yoshimizu Shrine, also known as a place where you can view 1,000 flowers in just one glance. It takes around 39 minutes on the Kintetsu express train from Kashiharajingu-mae station to Yoshino Station. From there, during the hanami season, visitors can take a bus all the way to Nakasenbon.
SUSHI DINING YUME (Kashiharajingu-mae / Sushi)
Enjoy authentic sushi at reasonable prices in SUSHI DINING YUME! The recommended menu, [Today's Chef's Selection of Sushi] (M size; 8 pieces per person) (1,000 JPY), is an assortment of sushi topped with the fresh seafood stocked that day. There's also the [Kushi-ten] (from 60 JPY), which is crisply fried tempura of an array of seasonal vegetables and seafood. SUSHI DINING YUME is a 2-minute walk from Kashiharajingu-mae Station.
SUSHI DINING YUME
Open: [Monday, Wednesday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] 5:00 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY
Address: 101, Chanoki Mansion, 540, Kume-cho, Kashibara-shi, Nara
4. Osaka Castle Park (Osaka)
Osaka Castle is a symbolic icon of Osaka, and its surroundings have been turned into a park called "Osaka Castle Park". This park is a well-known sakura spot, and during the peak of the hanami season, around 3,000 cherry blossom trees bloom and gracefully embellish the castletower. During this season, the trees are also illuminated at night, adding a magical ambience to the scene.
SAKURA (Osakajokoen / French Cuisine)
SAKURA is a renowned French restaurant located on the 18th floor of Hotel New Otani Osaka. From its polished interiors, guests can enjoy their meals while getting a good look at the magnificent view unfolding right outside the windows. The menu consists mainly of traditional French dinner courses (from 10,000 JPY). The herbs and spices accent the lightly flavored dishes, bringing out the ingredients' umami. SAKURA is located 10 minutes away from Osaka Castle on foot.
Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (L.O.), Dinner 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O.)
*If Monday falls on a national holiday, festival day, or a replacement holiday, the restaurant will be open.
*Dinner reservations must be made a day in advance.
Average price: [Dinner] 15,000 JPY / [Lunch] 8,000 JPY
Address: 18F, Hotel New Otani Osaka, 1-4-1, Shiromi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Restaurant CHATEU (Morinomiya / French Cuisine)
Restaurant CHATEU is the main restaurant on floor 12 of KKR Hotel Osaka. You can get a close look at Osaka Castle from the window seats, allowing you to enjoy the scenery and good food simultaneously. The popular special course [Taste the Four Seasons: Marche] (7,000 JPY) is filled with seasonal ingredients. The main course is a dish that uses domestic beef fillet, satisfying both the palate and the stomach. Restaurant CHATEU is located 3 minutes away from Osaka Castle on foot.
Open: Breakfast 7:00 am - 10:00 am (L.O. 9:30 am), Lunch 11:30 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm), Dinner 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,500 JPY
Address: 2-24, Banba-cho, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
5. Hirosaki Park (Aomori)
Hirosaki Park was built upon the ruins of Hirosaki Castle which was home to the Tsugaru family until the 19th century. It has 52 types of 2,600 sakura trees, including over 400 Yoshino cherry trees, Yae-zakura (double-cherry) trees, and Shidare-zakura (weeping cherry) trees. The best period to see these cherry blossoms is toward the end of April to the beginning of May. Don't miss out on the stunning sight of sakura adorning the three-story castletower. It makes for an amazing photo spot!
Yamazen (Chuo Hirosaki / Japanese Cuisine)
Yamazen is a Japanese restaurant that serves up seasonal seafood and only the best sake (a kind of Japanese alcohol) from all over Japan. The most popular dish is the [Kushi Shabu Nabe] (1,100 JPY for 1 person), made by boiling skewered ingredients in the house Japanese broth, similar to the conventional shabu-shabu (sliced meat parboiled with vegetables). Try the fish first, and you'll be able to taste how its extract brings out the deep taste of the soup. There's also the [Today's Recommended Fish 3-Kind Platter] (from 1,480 JPY) which goes extremely well with sake. Yamazen is a 5-minute walk from Hirosaki Station.
: [Weekdays, Saturday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] 5:00 pm - 11:00 pmClosed
: SundayAverage price
: [Dinner] 3,000 JPYAddress
: 20-3, Dote-machi, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori MapMore Details
FARO (Chuo Hirosaki / Teppanyaki)
This restaurant is known for the teppanyaki (ingredients grilled on an iron griddle) meat dishes and wine. The [Today's Special Steak] is a must-try and is made using the most delicious meat currently in stock. Enjoy it with just a pinch of salt or a mixture of wasabi and soy sauce to taste its full meaty flavor. The [FARO Special Ozanbo Mince] (650 JPY), a ground meat cutlet in which the portion of minced meat is carefully calculated, is also highly recommended. FARO is a 10-minute walk from Hirosaki Park.
: 6:00 pm - 12:00 amClosed
: SundayAverage price
: [Dinner] 3,000 JPYAddress
: 1F, Kaneyo Center, 51, Shinkaji-machi, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori MapMore Details
Other than what's mentioned above, Japan is full of spots to view sakura, the flower that Japanese people love the most. Enjoy the flowers and seasonal foods available at these spots!
Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.