Chasing Hanami

Every year, the blossoming of the Hanami (Cherry Blossoms) signifies that Spring has arrived in Japan.

Want to know the best way to see Cherry blossom season in Japan?

Osaka blossoms

View the itinerary below for your ultimate Hanami guide!

For more travel inspo. check out additional photos from our trip to Japan here: Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo

 We started our journey in Osaka and worked our way to Tokyo.

(Take a look back to the Japan Plan itinerary for more)

Blossoms start from South and travel North as the weather begins to turn. Some years are better than others and colors of the Hanami can range from white to a bright dusty pink. Color variation can occur due to several factors:  type of cherry blossom tree, weather, pollination.

Osaka is considered the “food capital” of Japan, which is the main reason we started here and because some of the best blossoms can be found at Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle.jpg
Osaka Castle

Our first encounter with the cherry blossoms occurred while walking to breakfast. The blossoms were a beautiful pale pink almost white color and the tree was full and lush with flowers on every branch.

White Hanami

Breakfast was at Eggs’n Things, a transplant eatery from Honolulu (bizarre that we’d just come from Honolulu and hadn’t known about it). They’re well known for their pancakes-topped with a pile of whipped cream. If you listen closely, you’ll here disney cover tunes playing in the restaurant!

eggs_n_things

banana-pancakes.jpg

{We walked through Dotombori after our meal, hopping to see some street food action taking place. To our surprise, the market doesn’t really get started until after noon. We noticed that many shopped were not even open eve though it was nearly 10 AM!}

A small break and quick change back at the hotel (since the weather went from mild to warm within an hour at breakfast) then off to Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle

Outside of the castle will be a few cherry blossoms, but inside the castle walls is where the magic begins. Enter the gigantic iron doored entry and you’ll be showered with hamani petals as the wind blows. The closer you get to the castle, the more blossoms you will see.

View of Osaka Castle

At Osaka Castle park, you will pay a small fee to enter and the fee is worth the reward. The gravel paths are lined with cherry blossoms and at the end of the park you can take in the view of Osaka Castle. The site is more extravagant with the blossoms clouding your view! Take a small break here in the grassy areas to enjoy the hanami or maybe some food!

Around Osaka, you will find most of the cherry blossom trees in open “park” type areas. Many will be scattered through the city, in court yards.

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine

Plan to get yourself to Kyoto! You’ve probably known or heard about the fables of  Geisha’s wandering around this area. The truth is, the Geisha is a dying practice. Less and less women are working Geisha, because of the time and dedication it takes. You will see women dressed as Geisha’s around the Kyoto area, there are handfuls of shops that will rent you kimonos, sandals, etc for the day.

Torii gates_geishas

Other than the Geisha, Kyoto has some wonderful areas to find hanami. To start, Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is a short 7 minute walk from the train station. You will be mesmerized by the brightly colored orange torii gates, but look a little closer once you enter the shrine and you will see the beautiful weeping cherry blossom trees.

Take a walk through the path of torii gates; though it will be busy, take in the repetitious gates as an experience of meditation. There are a few areas to pop out of though the path, take the right up the mountain and experience a smaller temple/shrine where large blossom trees will shower you with hanami.

Fushimi-inari blossoms

 

Colors of hanami here will be soft pink to pastel pink/purple.

When you get back down to the end of the gates enjoy some delicious street foods. The vendors have everything from chicken to octopus. My personal favorite was the bacon wrapped rice balls with kimchi. (heavenly)

 

If you take the train a little further West to Gion, you may just find that Geisha you seek. This is the area to find a true working Geisha, but come here for the tea and temples! You’ll find large zen gardens, matcha tea ceremonies and plenty of hanami as you stroll through the streets of Gion.

Kyoto Blush Pink Hanami

Around Kyoto you will find most of the cherry blossom trees scattered about the town, many of them singularly hiding next to restaurants, buildings or homes.

Ueno Onshi Park

Every spring; during hanami season, you will find Uneno Park filled with people enjoying the hanami festival. People bring blankets and picnic in the park, taking in sight. Evenings are the busiest. Ueno is not he North side of Tokyo, the park is just outside the train station!

Tokyo is a rather large city so expect to spend more than a few days here. Similar to Osaka, finding hanami can be a little more challenging as you’ll need to find large open spaces or parks for maximum foliage. You may see a few along residential streets.

When you find Hanami, you may notice that it looks slightly different in shape and color than when you were south of here. As the season moves North, the colors will be come brighter. More of a dusty pink and carnation-like shape with more petals.

Tokyo Pink Hanami

Make plans to visit Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, and Yoyogi Park to see the hanami in full swing!

Around Tokyo you will need to seek out parks and large open areas. Most cherry blossoms here will be in selected areas, be sure to plan accordingly since the city is very large with millions of people traveling at all hours of the day.

 

2018 marked one of the best year’s for Japan’s Cherry Blossom season. If you are planning to make a trip to Japan, keep in mind that Cherry blossom season is only 2 weeks long and usually occurs during the last weeks of March and first weeks of April. There are various sites that predict when the season will start.

If you would like any assistance planning your trip to see the Hanami, send me a message!

Safe Travels

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