How to Enjoy Cherry Blossoms in Japan in 2022

If we could only describe spring in Japan with one thing, it would be with cherry blossoms. Otherwise known as sakura, the iconic light-pink flower typically blooms between early March to mid-May. Around this time, you’ll see people setting up picnic rugs at the park, under rows of cherry blossom trees, or playing outdoor sports while doing the mandatory hanami (花見), which means flower viewing.

There are many great (and safe) ways to enjoy cherry blossoms in 2022. From taking a simple stroll in the neighborhood to enjoy your local sakura to going to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery by the banks of Meguro River, make this an opportunity to catch up with family and friends.

Pro tip: Day hanami is common, but don’t forget about how majestic cherry blossoms look at night. We recommend taking a cool stroll under the starry nights with cherry blossoms when you have the chance.

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History of Hanami in Japan

Did you know that Hanami was an activity the royal family carried out, dating back from Nara Period? It was said to be a tradition originating from China, to view plum flowers. Cherry blossom viewing has only begun after the Heian period, shifting from plum flowers to Sakura.

Sadly, sakura is known to only have a 2-week life span. This is why many people take the opportunity to enjoy Sakura during the nice weather before the rain blows all the petals off.

Because different regions of Japan experience spring at different times due to different weather, the full bloom of sakura blossoms differ as well. Okinawa, which is in the south of Japan, is the first place to be to see cherry blossoms bloom because of the warmer climate. There, the flowers begin to bloom around mid-January. The last place where cherry blossom blooms are Hokkaido, the north and coldest region of Japan. Cherry blossom fans plan their journey so that they can enjoy the Sakura for 3 to 4 months because Hokkaido cherry blossoms bloom around late April.

The Right Way to Enjoy Cherry Blossoms in 2022

Some parks provide a free mat, while some famous Hanami locations feature chairs and tables. To be safe, we recommend bringing your own picnic mat. There will be food stalls in particular spots, but take this time to enjoy your own food and drinks: bento boxes, sakura-themed snacks and sweets. A lot of people like to drink beer during this time too, with breweries releasing seasonal cans with designs of cherry blossoms.

Remember to bring disposable plates and cups; wet tissue and paper towels; and trash bags. It’s great if you enjoyed your picnic, but we want other people to enjoy theirs, too. Keep in mind some of these important hanami etiquettes:

  • Clean up before you leave. Don’t leave small trashes or expect a worker to clean up your mess. Instead, bring them home or dispose of them in designated locations.
  • The cherry blossoms are beautiful, but their trees are delicate. Never snap off the branches to take home with you.
  • Don’t be too noisy or play loud music in public.

These are just some of the common hanami etiquette you have to be mindful of. Before visiting any of the parks, please be sure to check beforehand the rules. For example, some parks let you come early in the morning and reserve a sitting spot by placing your picnic mat with your name on it.

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Top 5 Places to See Sakura in Japan

1. Meguro river (目黒川)

Full bloom sakura at Nakameguro
Sakura” by mrhayata is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.
  • 800 Sakura trees
  • Expected bloom: 3/25
  • Full bloom: 4/1
  • Casual cherry blossom viewing, not a popular spot to spread picnic mats
  • Stalls and shops on each side of the river selling unique cherry blossom themed foods and drinks like a sakura colored sparkling wine
  • Acess: Nakameguro station
  • Openings: Free entry

2. Chidorigafuchi (千鳥ヶ淵)

Sunset Sakura at Chidorigafuchi
千鳥ヶ淵” by Raymond.Ling.43 is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
  • 260 Sakura trees
  • Expected bloom: 3/26
  • Full bloom: 4/1
  • Near imperial palace
  • Can ride on the boats, nice stroll under the cherry blossom trees
  • A popular date spot
  • Boats are open during March 1st to November 30th, from 11:00~17:30
  • Access: Kudanshita or Hanzonmon Station
  • Openings: Free entry

3. Shinjuku gyoen (新宿御苑)

Sakura with lake at Shinjuku
File:Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – sakura 3.JPG” by Kakidai is marked with CC BY-SA 3.0.
  • 1000 Sakura trees
  • Expected bloom: 3/23
  • Full bloom: 4/3
  • Can have picnic, but alcohol and leisure activities are prohibited.
  • Maintained very well, and you can enjoy traditional tea with sakura
  • 500 yen admission fee
  • Access: Shinjuku Station
  • Openings: 9:00~16:00

4. Ueno park (上野公園)

Sakura at Ueno Park
花見 上野公園. Hanami, Ueno park. Tokyo Japan 東京 日本” by Ari Helminen is marked with CC BY 2.0.
  • 800 Sakura trees
  • Expected bloom: 3/25
  • Full bloom: 3/31
  • Popular spot for picnic, can be very loud, have to go early to reserve a spot for hanami
  • Accessible to nearby hanami places like Sumida River, Asakusa, and Tokyo Skytree
  • Access from Ueno Station
  • Openings: Free to enter except for 23:00~5:00

5. Rikugien Gardens  (六義園)

sakura in japan
六義園夜桜” by annintofu is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
  • 30 Sakura trees
  • Expected bloom: 3/23
  • Full bloom: 3/30
  • Access: JR Yamanote line Komagoe Station (South exit)/ Metro Nanboku Line Komagoe Station (Exit 2) 7 min walk
  • Openings: 9:00~17:00
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