Hanami Guide: Where to see Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka

Hanami Guide: Where to see Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka

Publish-date: Mar 01 2017 Update-date: Sep 27 2019
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

Cherry blossom season in Japan begins each year in early spring, lasting until around Golden Week in May. During that time, swaths of pink and white sakura blossoms burst into full bloom starting from the Kyushu area in the southwest and moving in a northerly direction. During this season hanami, or cherry blossom viewing parties, are common in Japan. Sakura viewing first began during the Heian period, the historical peak of the Japanese nobility and a period in which culture and the arts flourished in Japan. The Heian emperor would host extravagant feasts beneath the cherry blossoms at the imperial palace in Kyoto, which set the tradition for hanami picnics. Today, hanami parties can take place either during the daytime or at night among family, friends, and coworkers.

If you’re visiting Japan during the magical sakura season, here is a guide to some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, along with some excellent dining options nearby.

Where to See Sakura in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka

Tokyo Sakura

Japan’s metropolitan capital may be a city of concrete and skyscrapers, but there are a number of parks at which one can take in some green space and a hanami picnic during the cherry blossom season.

When Do Cherry Trees Blossom in Tokyo?

Sakura flowers in Tokyo typically open up at beginning of April, but may also blossom in  late March if the weather is warm. The most popular place to view cherry blossoms in Tokyo is Ueno Park, a free park that’s open from 5am to 11pm offering long hours during which to enjoy the park’s 1,200 sakura trees. Yoyogi Park, next to Meiji Shrine, is easily accessible from Harajuku Station and is a prime picnicking spot especially for young people in the city.

Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo

#1 Chidorigafuchi Park

cherry-blossom_tokyo_1
Chidorigafuchi is the park along the moat surrounding the Imperial Palace. The moat is lined with hundreds of sakura trees and has a bridge that offers one of the best spots in Tokyo from which to photograph cherry blossoms, complete with Tokyo Tower in the background.
Restaurants Near Chidorigafuchi Park
At Private Kaiseki Kitaoji Teigeki, visitors are able to wrap up a day viewing exquisite cherry blossoms with a fittingly elegant kaiseki meal. In the privacy of secluded dining rooms, diners can savor seasonal dishes and delicacies such as Japanese A4-A5 kurowagyu (black wagyu beef) and freshly caught fugu pufferfish. Staff cherish the opportunity to interact with diners and answer questions about the dishes and ingredients.
food for cherry blossom sakura tokyo
LaSana offers diners flavorful, well-presented Italian food enjoyed in a lively atmosphere - another perfect way to celebrate a day of hanami viewing at Chidorigafuchi Park. Vegetables, the focus at LaSana, are organic and delivered directly from farmers. Vegetables are served both raw and fresh in carefully crafted dishes, and served with specially selected wine to match.
food for cherry blossom sakura tokyo

#2 Inokashira Park

cherry blossoms in tokyo
For those who want to get out of the city without going too far, Inokashira Park is located in the suburbs just west of Tokyo’s 23 wards. The cherry blossom trees at Inokashira Park surround a large pond where swan boats and small canoes can be rented.
Restaurants Near Inokashira Park
Uohide is an izakaya (a Japanese-style gastropub) with a colorful interior, a fantastic atmosphere, and a menu to match. Yakizakana (grilled fish), sashimi and tempura and expertly prepared and served in a friendly and welcoming setting. Seafood is sourced directly from famous fishing spots around the country, as well as caught personally by restaurant staff in Oiso Harbour. For larger groups, the nearby Uohide Zen is recommended.
food for cherry blossom sakura tokyo
BIANCARA, a wine bar located just steps away from the entrance of Inogashira Park station, serves dishes with a European influence that pair well with their many vins naturels (natural wines). The signature dish is lightly pickled mackerel, using fish sourced from various regions depending on the weather and season. The vegetable dishes at BIANCARA use organic vegetables whenever possible, making for a truly enriching dining experience.
food for cherry blossom sakura tokyo

#3 Shinjuku Gyoen

cherry blossoms in tokyo
While Tokyo’s public parks can be quite crowded during cherry blossom season, there are also a number of private parks and gardens. Despite charging a small entrance fee, parks such as Shinjuku Gyoen are definitely worth the cost of entry. This spacious park actually comprises three parks in one, including Japanese, French, and English-style gardens. The park doesn’t allow consumption of alcoholic beverages, making it completely clean and family-friendly.
Restaurants Near Shinjuku Gyoen
Torishige, to the north-east of Shinjuku Gyoen, offers a diverse range of delectable dishes. All are carefully prepared by chef and third-generation owner, Mr. Sakamaki, using a unique array of ingredients. Popular dishes include a plate of mixed fresh sashimi, rare cuts of Japanese beef steak, and a layered dish of pig-tongue, which is both fatty and fragrant. The counter seat makes for fun and interactive dining, and is particularly suitable for dates.
food for cherry blossom sakura tokyo
At Otaru Masazushi Shinjuku, an offshoot of the well-established sushi restaurant in Otaru, Hokkaido, diners can sample the flavor and freshness of authentic Hokkaido seafood. Sushi, sashimi and other specialty dishes are selected not just to fit the season, but to showcase the best produce of that specific day. Each morning, fresh seafood is delivered from Otaru by air. The feeling of a Hokkaido dining experience is evoked not just through ingredients such as sea urchin and botan shrimp, but through the quirky interior decorations like glass buoys.
food for cherry blossom sakura tokyo

Kyoto Sakura

Japan’s venerable old capital of Kyoto repeatedly tops the list of best travel destinations in the world, due not only to its temples and traditions but also due to the gorgeous vistas of cherry blossoms during the springtime.

When Do Cherry Trees Blossom in Kyoto?

In Kyoto, the sakura trees start to bloom around the last week of March and reach peak blossom at the beginning of April.

Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto

#1 Arashiyama

cherry blossoms in tokyo
Located the western part of Kyoto, the picturesque district of Arashiyama comprises many notable tourist attractions, such as Tenryuji Temple, Togetsukyo Bridge and its bamboo groves. Arashiyama has also been a prime hanami spot for centuries, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Restaurants Near Arashiyama
Kyo Suiran’s unique cuisine is a mix of traditional Japanese kaiseki and French cuisine. Dishes are creative and inspired, using seasonal local ingredients. Located in the Suiran Luxury Collection Hotel Kyoto along the Hozu river, the restaurant looks out towards the famous Togetsukyou bridge, with the exquisite view of a traditional Japanese garden. Enjoy a refined dining experience while reflecting on the beauty of cherry blossoming viewing.
food for cherry blossom sakura kyoto
At Arashiyama Kumahiko, diners can compliment a day enjoying the rare sight of sakura blossoms, with the experience of eating the rare taste of suppon (soft shell turtle). Suppon nabe (hotpot), a recipe passed down from the chef's father and grandfather, is the restaurant’s signature dish and is light and refined in flavor. Local and seasonal ingredients are used as much as possible throughout all menu offerings, and the staff is warm and inviting. To top off the experience, the restaurant has a spectacular view of the Arashiyama mountain range, with a view of cherry blossoms.
food for cherry blossom sakura kyoto

#2 Maruyama-koen Park

cherry blossoms in kyoto
Located at the center of the city and offering a fun and lively weekend atmosphere, Maruyama-koen Park is the most popular place in Kyoto to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Restaurants Near Maruyama-koen Park
Yuba - tofu skin - is a quintessential Kyoto food, making a meal at Yuba Higashiyamayuuzu the perfect compliment to a day of cherry blossoming viewing at Maruyama-koen Park. The restaurant’s yuba is made using only water and locally sourced soybeans, and is exquisite in flavor, with the earthiness of beans and a natural sweetness. Try tempura using seasonal ingredients and ground-up dried yuba as the batter, or taste the goodness of yubanabe (hotpot). Other dishes offered at Yuba Highshiyamayuuzu include naturally-raised Miyama-kyo jidori (chicken) and a kaiseki meal in the evenings.
food for cherry blossom sakura kyoto
The unique specialty of CAFE RESTAURANT Yayoi is chirimen, baby sardines. Try chirimen-zansho, with the chirimen mixed with strong Japanese pepper, and chirimen-jako (dried and seasoned baby sardines). One dish that comes highly recommended is Ochazuke Zen, a meal of rice topped with green tea or broth and served with Kyoto-side side dishes such as rolled omelette and chirimen cooked tsukudani-style (boiled in soy sauce). The hideaway-like location and small tables make CAFE RESTAURANT Yayoi ideal for couples.
food for cherry blossom sakura kyoto

#3 Heian Shrine and Okazaki Canal

where to see cherry blossoms in kyoto
Heian Shrine also boasts late-blooming weeping cherry blossom trees, and the nearby Okazaki Canal offers cherry blossom viewing boat tours.
Where to eat Near Heian Shrine and Okazaki Canal
15th-generation owner Yoshikiro Takahashi invites diners to understand the real meaning of omotenashi (hospitality) at Hyotei Main Branch, a restaurant world-renowned for its Kyoto cuisine. Since the restaurant first opened as a koshikake-chaya (a tea house and resting place) around 450 years ago, the dishes are continually refined - even incorporating new ingredients and techniques - to meet modern palates. Popular dishes include the Hyotei Egg, where an egg is marinated in a flavorful stock before being cooked, and Asagayu, a type of breakfast rice porridge (available 7/31 to 8/31, from 8 am to 10 am). Hyotei Main Branch is a truly unique dining experience to compliment a day of hanami.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing kyoto

Osaka Sakura

Osaka, the biggest city in the western Kansai region of Japan, is located just an hour from Kyoto and is considered the country’s gourmet capital. During cherry blossom season, many street food vendors set up yatai (food stands) around cherry blossom viewing spots, so be sure to carry extra cash when going out for hanami.

When Do Cherry Trees Blossom in Osaka?

To capture cherry blossom season in Osaka, it’s best to visit from late-March to early April.

Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Osaka

#1 Kema Sakuranomiya Park

cherry blossoms in osaka
There are several expansive parks for cherry blossom viewing in Osaka such as Kema Sakuranomiya Park, which has wide lawns for picnicking and a riverside promenade, stretching several kilometers, for strolling under the sakura trees.
Restaurants Near Kema Sakuranomiya Park
Two minutes walk from Miyakojima Station is , a restaurant serving an assortment of classic traditional and modern Japanese fare. Enjoy a medley of dishes such as sashimi platters, mackerel bou-zushi, fish cooked tataki-style and chicken karaage - all prepared with only the freshest ingredients. Relax in friendly atmosphere, with staff dedicated to providing an enjoyable dining experience. Large groups are also welcome.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing osaka
Agio is an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant found at a convenient location just one minute walk from Ogimachi station. The signature dish here is a grilled potato sandwich garnished with a smooth and creamy curry sauce. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are used throughout each dish on the menu, showcased most especially in the Warm Salad with Seasonal Vegetables. The mission of staff at Agio is to provide a place to enjoy a meal with complete satisfaction, a feat which will be accomplished from the very first bite.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing osaka

#2 Osaka Castle

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The Osaka Castle grounds span across 15 acres and boast over 4,000 cherry blossom trees. On the western citadel of the castle is the Nishinomaru Garden, which has a special hanami area that’s lit up at night, for a magical nighttime cherry blossom viewing experience.
Restaurants Near Osaka Castle
Kushiage Ryori Miyata specialised in kushiage (also known as kushikatsu), crumbed and deep-fried skewers of meat, seafood or vegetables, that are a classic Osaka meal. Kushiage Ryori Miyata offer a Chef's Selection of 12 Skewers, which includes a starter, twelve different types of kushiage, side dishes, and a bowl of rice topped with green tea. Vegetables are organic and seasonal, and great pride is taken in making everything in-house, including all sauces and salad dressings. The restaurant’s small size makes for a relaxed and intimate setting, a perfect post-hanami dining option.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing osaka
At French Cuisine Sakura, customers can enjoy on exceptional dishes and fine wine while observing superb views of Osaka. Two sommeliers work with kitchen staff to help guide the best wine pairing for selected meals. Dishes range from luxurious potage soup to A5 and A4 grades of kurowagyu and high-quality Challans duck sourced from the House Burgaud.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing osaka

#3 Osaka Mint Bureau

where to see cherry blossoms in osaka
The Osaka Mint Bureau, operated by Japan’s Ministry of Finance, is one of the best spots to enjoy the cherry blossoms in late spring. Although usually closed to the public, the Mint Bureau opens its gates for one week in mid-April every year and offers numerous late-blooming varieties.
Restaurants Near Osaka Mint Bureau
serves up not just high-quality steak, but an entertaining experience. Meals are prepared in front of customers, who can watch the spectacle of flames flaring up as meat is cooked to with precision timing. A trademark dish at is the plate-grilled honey toast that comes with wonderfully fragrant meat and garlic, an unconventional but perfect combination. The restaurant’s warm interior and calm atmosphere provide an opportunity to sit back, relax and savor a delicious meal after a day of cherry blossom viewing.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing osaka
Enjoy the unique combination of grilled chicken and yakitori in an elegant, refined interior . To get the most out of the inherent flavor of the chicken meat, it is cooked carefully over charcoal until perfectly soft and succulent. The flavor is so rich it is best with just simple salt and pepper seasoning. The staff at Osaka Osake Dining strives is to fill the restaurant with smiling customers through its dedication to providing only the finest food and hospitality.
food for cherry blossom sakura viewing osaka

Celebrate Cherry Blossom Season in Japan With Heavenly Hanami and Mouthwatering Meals

Cherry blossom season is one of the most popular times of year to visit Japan. While it requires carefully planning to ensure that one is in the city just in time for peak bloom, the vision of blossoming sakura trees along with Japan’s gorgeous spring weather make for an unforgettable experience - one made even more so by the myriad culinary options available.

Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.
Publish-date: Aug 09 2017 Update-date: Sep 27 2019
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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