Cherry blossoms in front of Mount Fuji (Shutterstock)
List Words : Insider Secrets | 28 February 2019

Where to see Japan's stunning cherry blossoms without the crowds

Japan’s cherry blossom season is upon us and the country is again covered in a delicate shade of pink. Enjoy the soft beauty of the sakura without the crowds, out of the city and off the beaten track...

1: Mt. Shiude, Kagawa

Cherry blossoms on Mt. Shiude, looking over the Seto Inland Sea (Shutterstock)

Cherry blossoms on Mt. Shiude, looking over the Seto Inland Sea (Shutterstock)

Standing at 352m above sea level, Mt. Shiude presides over the Shōnai peninsula, offering panoramic views across the many islands in Seto Inland Sea and across to the Great Seto Bridge. The mountain is popular among nature lovers, with a vast array of cherry blossoms in springtime and hydrangeas in early summer, both framing the view of the Seto Inland Sea. The viewing platform at the peak is the best place to enjoy this famous cherry blossom site, famed for its 1,000 cherry trees. 

2: Himeji Castle, Hyōgo

Himeji Castle during the cherry blossom season (Shutterstock)

Himeji Castle during the cherry blossom season (Shutterstock)

Sitting on a hilltop, in the Hyōgo prefecture west of Kyoto, Himeji Castle is considered by many to be the ultimate cherry blossom viewing destination in Japan. The castle offers breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko and is surrounded by cherry trees. Take a boat trip along the canal to truly appreciate the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage site during the cherry blossom season. 

3: Hitome Senbonzakura, Miyagi

Train passing full bloom cherry tree along the Shiroishi river (Shutterstock)

Train passing full bloom cherry tree along the Shiroishi river (Shutterstock)

30 minutes from Sendai Station by train, nearly 1,200 sakura trees line the Shiroishi Riverside in Ogawara Town, in clear view from your window. With views of snow-covered Mt.Zao in the background, this area is called “Hitome Senbonzakura" – 1,000 sakura trees at a glance.

It's worthwhile disembarking from your train to stay a while. A sakura festival is also held every year for people to enjoy the cherry blossom and street stalls, with sakura food provided for picnics beneath the trees. 

4: Fukuyama Castle, Hiroshima

Fukuyama Castle in spring (Shutterstock)

Fukuyama Castle in spring (Shutterstock)

Fukuyama Castle in Fukuyama City is another popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). The rows of tall cherry blossom trees in full bloom surrounding the majestic white castle exudes a distinctively Japanese sensibility. Other famous cherry blossom spots in the eastern part of Hiroshima Prefecture include Senkoji Park in Onomichi City, which sits on higher ground overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. 

5: Matsushima Bay, Miyagi

Cherry trees in Matsushima (Shutterstock)

Cherry trees in Matsushima (Shutterstock)

Pine-clad islands dot the waters of Matsushima, a coastal town just outside Sendai, Miyagi’s capital. Studded with 260 small, jewel-like islands covered in pine groves, Matsushima Bay has long been known to offer scenic views. During cherry blossom season, these islands are covered with sakura trees offering multiple spots to make the most of sakura. 

6: Handayama Botanical Garden, Okayama

Handayama in spring (Shutterstock)

Handayama in spring (Shutterstock)

Handayama Botanical Garden is located in a hilly area near downtown Okayama City. Approximately 1,000 cherry trees, made up of 45 varieties, cover the entire mountain in pink when the trees come into full bloom. Cherry Blossom Festivals held in season where visitors can enjoy fantastic night view of cherry blossoms.

7: Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu

Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu (Shutterstock)

Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu (Shutterstock)

Ritsurin Garden plays host to a 'Spring Illumination' festival every year from the end of March to start of April, celebrating the arrival of the cherry blossom season. Guests can stroll around the gardens beneath the sakura trees, or take a boat ride on the northern lake, under the twinkling, beguiling lights.

More on Japan's cherry blossoms:

For more information about the cherry blossom season in Japan and where best to see the blooms, visit the Japan National Tourism Organization website.

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