Sakura blossoms or cherry blossoms are one of the yearly events to plan for if traveling in Japan. The blossoms start in southern japan in early March and move northwards throughout March and April. If you plan to travel to Japan to view the blossoms, plan on being flexible as weather dictates when the blossoms open in a particular area of the country. It is recommended that you plan a trip of at least 2 weeks to ensure that you can see the blossoms somewhere and that you are flexible in which cities you are visiting to maximize your chances to see them at peak bloom. Just prior to the Sakura bloom the plum blossoms bloom which are more a lavendery white color. There is some overlap between the blooms so you may be able to see both especially around Tokyo.
We recorded a video of our trip in Spring 2019 where we were able to see peak bloom in Osaka/Nara and Tokyo, we just missed peak bloom in Kyoto due to rain while we were there.
The following websites are the ones we used to try and predict when peak bloom was going to be both prior to arriving in Japan while we were planning and also while in Japan. They get more accurate the closer it is to peak bloom.
There are many areas around Osaka to see the Sakura blossoms but the best in our opinion is Osaka castle and the surrounding gardens/parks. The backdrop against the castle makes for some lovely photos.
The parks around Todaji temple and Nara Park are very lovely when the Sakura are in bloom. Trees in the temple grounds allow photos with the temple in the background.
Kyoto is regarded as one of the locations to be to see the Sakura blossoms. So much so that finding a place to stay in March/April can get quite expensive. This was one location where we planned to be in town for a set number of days and booked a room 6 months early to get a good price. While we were there it should have been peak season but it was rainy and that delayed it by about a week.
The best locations we found for blossom viewing were in Gion and along the Kamo river.
If this is on your list of places to visit during peak bloom plan ahead and book your reservations as early as you can as prices go up 4-5 times normal during Sakura season.
Tokyo is as far north as we went for viewing as we were nearing the end of our trip. We were lucky and we arrived when the blossoms were just starting to bloom and we returned in time for peak bloom in Tokyo.
There are many areas to see the blossoms around Tokyo, The best three in my opinion are Ueno Park, The Meguro River, and the Chidorigafuchi Moat near the Imperial palace. Ueno Park is nice as you can walk under the canopy and if you get the early enough you can grab a picnic spot under the blossoms. The Moat is nice as the blossoms provide a backdrop to the moat itself. And The Meguro river has a nightly festival where the blossoms are lit by laterns and food and drink is sold, making for a leisurely walk along the river.
The Bald Traveler…