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How to Plan a Japan Cherry Blossom Trip in 2023

How to Plan a Japan Cherry Blossom Trip in 2023

By Vicky LengUpdated Feb. 1, 2023

When speaking of spring in Japan, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Cherry blossom, of course! It is an unforgettable experience to put a picnic mat under the cherry trees with your family/partner and enjoy the pink blossoms while eating snacks. You can also see local people in kimonos posing for cherry blossom photos.

March to May is the peak travel season in Japan, when tens of thousands of travelers from Japan and abroad go to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are the top recommended places to see cherry blossoms, and they are the most popular destinations for first time visitors to Japan as well. If you want to avoid the crowds, Hokkaido might be a better place to go, though. 

Prices during the cherry blossom season are about two or three times higher than usual. Many traditional ryokans and excellent guides are also fully booked in advance, so we recommend you make your decision no later than February.

Dates and Tips for Japan's Cherry Blossom Cities

cherry blossom in Kanazawa, Japan Cherry blossoms in Kanazawa, Japan
  • Average temperatures for March to May: 10–18°C (50–64°F)
  • Average rainfall: 120 mm (5 inches)
  • Suggested clothing: T-shirt, jacket, thin coat, light trousers.

In general, the best time to see cherry blossom is from late March to early April. Each region in Japan has a different climate, so blooming times vary. Starting in January in the southern island of Okinawa and lasting until May in the northern area of Hokkaido.

If this is your first time to Japan, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are recommended as they're conveniently connected via Shinkansen (high-speed railway). For Japan return trips, you could consider Sapporo in Hokkaido.

There is an official forecast for cherry blossom for almost every prefecture supported by years of accumulated climate data.

Here’s a forecast for 2023:

  • Fukuoka:  Flowering from March 19; in full bloom from March 29
  • Osaka: Flowering from March 23; in full bloom from March 30
  • Kyoto: Flowering from March 24; in full bloom from April 1
  • Tokyo: Flowering from March 20; in full bloom from March 29
  • Sapporo: Flowering from April 23; in full bloom from May 1
forecast time of cherry blossom in 2023

Suggested reading: 

Cherry Blossom Tour to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka at US$3,699 Per Person

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Where's the Best Place to See the Cherry Blossom?

Girls in kimonos take pictures under cherry trees Girls in kimonos take pictures under cherry blossoms

With over 1,000 popular spots for seeing cherry blossoms across Japan, it is tough to choose where to go. If you are travelling during late March to early April, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka would be the perfect destinations.

Hotels around popular attractions are always booked up quickly, so we strongly recommend booking hotels and flights no later than February.

Hokkaido would be great if you want to avoid crowds of tourists, and its ideal time is from late April to early May.

Here are some suggested best cherry blossom places:

Tokyo

boating in Chidorigafuchi Boating in Chidorigafuchi during cherry blossom season

The following three places are easily accessible and you can go to them all in one day. If you don’t have much time, it is highly recommended to visit one of these three attractions. If you want to see cherry blossom lit up at night, the best place to go is Chidorigafuchi.

1) Ueno Park

Ueno Park is the most popular spot for seeing cherry blossom in Tokyo — a lively and crowded place. It has more than 1,000 cherry trees, which are spectacular when they bloom together every spring. Lay out a picnic mat under a tree and enjoy the cherry blossom fluttering down in the spring breeze, as local Japanese do while eating snacks.

2) Shinjuku Gyoen

Located in the business hub area Shinjuku, this well-designed garden is one of the largest gardens in Tokyo, and it has about 1,100 cherry trees from 65 species that blossom in spring.

Shops in the garden offer cherry-blossom-related desserts and handmade gifts during the period. It is dreamy to have a picnic on the garden’s lawns and enjoy cherry blossoms in the warm spring sun.

3) Chidorigafuchi — Open in the Evening Too

Chidorigafuchi is one of the most picturesque cherry blossom spots in Tokyo. You can take pictures of the cherry blossom and the outer walls of Edo Castle, which enhance each other’s beauty.

The cherry trees on either side of the road turn the road into a pink tunnel when in full bloom. Or you can take a boat ride on its lake… Boating while enjoying the cherry blossom along the shore is also a special experience.

Kyoto

cherry blossom on the Philosopher's Path Cherry blossoms on the Philosopher's Path

1) Philosopher’s Path — A Footpath Lined with Cherry Blossom 

Kyoto’s best walking trail is a stone path along a canal lined with over 400 cherry trees. It is one of the most popular and pleasing of Kyoto’s cherry blossom spots. On a fine day, each cherry blossom deserves close appreciation. If you get tired of walking, sit on a stool and look up at the pink landscape.

2) Kiyomizu Temple — an Ancient Temple with Awesome Views

As one of Kyoto's ancient shrines, Kiyomizu Temple is popular in all seasons, but especially during the cherry blossom season in spring and the red maple season in fall.

When the cherry trees are blooming, you can see a lot of girls in kimonos taking photos under the cherry trees. Don’t miss an evening there during cherry blossom season, when the area is lit up magically.

3) Mount Yoshino, Nara — Great for Hiking among the Cherry Blossoms

If you want to be in right in the middle of A LOT of cherry blossom, Mt. Yoshino is the best choice. This mountain not only suitable for hiking, but is also covered with 30,000 cherry trees making the mountain into a pink paradise in spring.

The whole mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are some ancient shrines and temples on the mountain, which look serene amongst the cherry blossom.

Osaka

Osaka Castle during cherry blossom Osaka Castle in cherry blossom season

Osaka Castle is one of ‘the three famous castles of Japan’, and it is top of the list of places to enjoy cherry blossom in Osaka. The square around Osaka Castle is covered with cherry trees. Not far from the square around the castle, the old town merges with modern high-rise buildings and cherry blossom — a meeting of traditional and modern, natural and manmade.

As night falls, lights illuminate the cherry blossoms and the castle, making an evening trip a delight also.

Book quickly for the last reservations in January. Just contact us for an effortlessly-tailored dream trip to Japan to see the cherry blossom in 2023.

Suggested reading: How to Plan Your Trip to Japan 2023/2024 - 7 Things to Know

Recommended Itinerary

Our Suggested 10-Day Japan Itinerary for Cherry Blossom Season

Mt.Fuji and cherry blossoms Mt.Fuji and cherry blossoms

Many of our clients want to see the most beautiful cherry blossom in Japan, but don't know where to start when planning a journey.

Here is Asia Highlights’ well-planned small group tour. Travel costs are high in Japan during cherry blossom season, but this small group tour is cost-effective with big savings compared with private or independent travel.

This 10-day tour starts from March 25th in Tokyo and costs US$3,699 p/p, including 4-star hotels with breakfasts, sightseeing/activities, group-only vehicles, train tickets between cities, and English-speaking guides.

With Asia Highlights, you enjoy no-risk booking, 100% refund policy! (up to 14 days before departure)

During this 10-day trip, you are suggested to stay 4 nights in Tokyo to take in its ancient architecture, local culture experiences, and natural beauty. Then spend 3 nights in Kyoto, feeling Japan’s history and culture more deeply. Finally, stay 2 nights in Osaka, where you can sample local snacks. Top-class city-touring is accompanied by the country’s best cherry blossom outings.

Days 1–4 Tokyo

Tokyo Tower Tokyo Tower

In the capital of Japan, you can experience a good mix of history and modernity. Whether you like traditional Japanese culture or their anime and modern style, you can find something interesting in Tokyo.

1) Ancient Architecture

  • Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple: symbols of Japanese history where you can pray for luck.
  • Hamarikyu Garden: a garden from the Edo period where you can enjoy a steaming tea in its teahouse.

2) Mouthwatering Food

Visit the biggest local fish market — Tsukiji Fish Market, and sample the freshly-prepared foods at the market.

Contact us if you would like us to arrange for you and your family/companion(s) to learn making sushi at a typical Japanese home. You could get more ideas about How to Plan a First-Time Family Trip to Japan>>>

3) View the Magnificent Mount Fuji and Its Cherry Blossom

For families and those who want to enjoy natural scenery and do outdoor sports, you are recommended to go to Fujigoko (‘Fuji Five Lakes’). You can view the magnificent Mount Fuji by boating, or enjoy the scenery while hiking and camping.

4) Boating on the Sumida

Take a boat ride on the Sumida River in Tokyo, and get excellent views of cherry blossom along the riverside.

Days 5–7 Kyoto

Gion district in Kyoto Gion district in Kyoto

1) Ancient Shrines and Temples

The medieval capital of Japan, Kyoto, still has many historical buildings. For a deeper understanding of Japan's history, you can visit Kyoto’s ancient shrines and temples, such as Kinkakuji Temple, Nijo Castle, and Kiyomizu Temple.

2) Geisha Experience

Gion is the most representative cultural district in Kyoto, where you can see many geishas. Contact us to explore the geisha district with a foreign geisha-culture expert.

3) Traditional Local Food

  • Sample a steaming tea at a Japanese ochaya (teahouse).
  • Learn about the traditional brewing process and sample the different types of Japanese sake.
  • Nishiki Market is known as the “the Kitchen of Kyoto”. There are over one hundred shops and restaurants along this narrow shopping street. There you can taste traditional Kyoto snacks and buy the best kitchen supplies.

4) See Cherry Blossom

Philiospher’s Path, Hirano Shrine, and Arashiyama all have stunning cherry blossom views.

Days 8–10 Osaka

Osaka Castle at night during cherry blossom season Osaka Castle at night during cherry blossom season

1) Historic Castles and Tall Modern Buildings 

  • Osaka Castle is the most famous landmark in Osaka and is the first choice for viewing cherry blossom there.
  • The history museum next to the castle and the surrounding parks and green spaces are great places for relaxing.
  • View the panorama of Osaka City from Floating Garden Observatory.

2) Make Your Own Woodblock Print

Appreciate Japanese prints from the 18th century and make your own woodblock print at Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum.

3) Osaka Street Food

The most authentic Osaka street food, takoyaki (highly decorative and tasty crispy dough balls), can be sampled in Osaka's Dotonbori District, where there are many restaurants to indulge your appetite.

It is possible to have a private tour with the same itinerary as this one (or a bespoke version of it). Just send us a free inquiry to customize your dream Japan trip.

Cherry Blossom Tour to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka at US$3,699 Per Person

How to Avoid the Crowds during Cherry Blossom Season

Meguragawa in the eveniing There are still many people in Meguragawa in the evening

With the resumption of inbound travel to Japan in October 2022, travel to Japan is forecast to be popular in 2023, especially for cherry blossom in the coming spring.

What should you do if you want to see Japan’s cherry blossom in full bloom but not the crowds? Here are some suggestions:

  • Crowding is relatively low in the early morning and evening, and the cherry blossom in some scenic spots looks good when lit up at night, such as at Chidorigafuchi or Meguro Gawa in Tokyo or at Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto.
  • There are more local visitors at weekends as many Japanese have a 5-day working work. Thus, avoiding the popular cherry blossom attractions at weekends is another way to avoid the crowds.
  • The cherry blossom season varies from region to region in Japan, but most travelers choose to visit Kyoto from late March to early April. If you want to avoid the crowds, Hokkaido is also a good place to go for cherry blossom viewing in late April to early May.

In May, the crowds are not as big in Kyoto and Tokyo, and in Hokkaido spring is just beginning, and there is a lot of fun to be had. For example, go to Shiretoko to experience the natural beauty of melting glaciers and enjoy authentic Japanese beer in Sapporo's brewery.

Budgeting for a Cherry Blossom Trip in Japan

How Much Does a Trip to Japan Cost

A typical private Japan tour typically costs 350-400 USD per person per day, prices during cherry blossoms will be higher, including 4-star hotels, private guide, private car, and tickets for attractions.

We would usually recommend staying in a local hotel near a major subway station, such as the Citadines Central Shinjuku in Tokyo and the Hotel Gracery Kyoto Sanjo. Contact us to create a memorable Japan tour with good value of money.

For a cost-efficient experience, you could join our 10-Day Japan Cherry Blossom Spring 2023 Mini-Group Tour (4–7 pax), starting from March 25th 2023 at the cost of US$3,699 per person or US$370 pp/day.

We promise a 100% refund of all monies paid if a cancellation is received up to 30 days before departure, excluding penalties if applicable, which are charged by hotels, airlines, and rail.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights During the Pandemic

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Your 1:1 travel consultant in Asia will take all the uncertainty out of your planning, helping you navigate any travel restrictions. 
  • No-risk booking: 100% refund policy! (up to 14 days before departure)

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