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  • Gaby Doman

Upgrade Your Sakura Season in Japan

Cherry blossom, but make it luxe

Cherry blossom trees in front of a lake, with Mt. Fuji in the background

Spring in Japan is sakura season. Japan’s sakura forecast is announced in January and then closely tracked through the weeks to predict as accurately as possible the first bloom and peak days for blossom across the country. Dates typically range from late March to mid-April, while up north in chilly Hokkaido, its late-blooming petals are expected to peak in early May.

Where can I see cherry blossoms in Japan?

Cherry blossom viewing (hanami) is a national obsession, and there is no shortage of places to witness the spectacle. In Tokyo, the most popular spots are the 1,000 or more trees in Ueno Park, Chidorigafuchi Green Way near the Imperial Palace and Nakameguro, where cherry trees line the canal and pink petals cover the water’s surface. Across the country, some of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms are Himeji Castle in Hyogo, Mt. Yoshino in Nara, Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi and Osaka Castle. However, there are countless other places to hanami.

In the lead-up to and during cherry blossom season in Japan, cafes, restaurants and shops are stocked with sakura-themed menus, drinks, snacks and souvenirs.

A group of deer underneath cherry blossom trees

How can I make my cherry blossom viewing special?

Cherry blossom viewing in the most popular areas gets very busy, so savvy sakura enthusiasts set up picnic tarpaulins early in the day to secure the best spot under the tree branches. Even foot traffic moves at a shuffle in prime viewing spots. But with insider knowledge, you can enjoy the experience without the competition for the best spots.

Luxurique has almost a decade of experience arranging truly once-in-a-lifetime itineraries, and our insider knowledge will upgrade your cherry blossom viewing experience to something truly extraordinary.

A drone shot of forested mountains with lots of cherry blossom trees

Mt. Yoshino from above

If you need some spring inspiration, here’s a small sample of the types of activities we can plan into your Japan itinerary. Contact us for more information or to create a personalised itinerary according to your specific needs and budget.

Avoiding the crowds

One of the ultimate luxuries is to bypass the crowds and still take in the sights. Enjoy the view from the ultimate vantage point; from above. A helicopter or a hot air balloon ride offers a new perspective on cherry blossom viewing and, if you opt for the right spot, you can see cherry blossoms stretching out to the horizon.

A Japanese castle, red bridge and moat, framed by cherry blossom

Alternatively, take to the water. Opt for either a sleek modern boat or an elegant traditional boat you can charter to glide past rows of cherry blossom. Depending on the boat you select, you can enjoy a multi-course kaiseki meal as you enjoy the views, or recline on piles of cushions to look through the glass roof of the boat at Yoshino cherry trees peppering valley slopes. Night cruises are another way to enjoy this seasonal sight, particularly when the cherry trees are illuminated.

A small boat on a canal, framed by cherry blossom

Kurashiki Canal in Bikan Historical Quarter

Extend your cruise time by opting for a four-day tour of the Setouchi islands on chic floating ryokan, Guntu. You’ll see cherry blossoms flowering on the sparsely populated islands and have the chance to discover local traditions and crafts, such as washi paper making.

Another way to bypass the crowds is to hop on a rickshaw. During this nostalgic experience, a rickshaw wallah pulls you through the area’s most beautiful streets, finding the most photogenic cherry blossom trees. Our suggestion? Get styled in a beautiful, authentic yukata (a summer kimono) before your rickshaw ride and let a professional photographer take photos of you in front of the most beautiful sakura scenes.

People enjoying a rickshaw ride underneath a row of cherry blossom trees

Cherry blossom hotel views

Wake up to one of the most iconic sights in Japan. When you opt for accommodation with garden views looking out over cherry trees, you are assured a peaceful hanami without even having to leave your bed. Lots of luxury hotels have impressive gardens as well as traditional ryokan, where you wander outside and sit with a cup of matcha tea while soaking in the seasonal sights.

Sakura-themed food

There is no shortage of sakura-themed snacks, drinks and menus in Japan during spring. Most major hotels offer cherry blossom afternoon teas throughout the season, featuring pink treats, hanami dango and sweets, teas or pickles infused with the subtle fragrance of cherry blossom.

A plate with four beautiful spring-themed Japanese wagashi sweets

Look out for sakura-themed traditional Japanese wagashi sweets. These lightly sweet desserts often have seasonal characteristics, so you’re likely to find cherry-blossom shapes and flavors. Make your souvenir even more meaningful by learning the art of wagashi making from a local expert. Luxurique can make it happen.

Wagashi sweets are typically served during tea ceremony, which is another popular activity to weave into your spring vacation in Japan. Tea ceremony is the art of preparing and serving matcha tea. It is performed by masters who spend years refining this ancient art form.

A cup of matcha tea and some sakura mochi sweets

Hanami cherry blossom viewing often means having a picnic underneath the branches of a tree in full bloom. Many people opt to bring a hanami bento (pre-prepared lunch box) from a local restaurant, but with Luxurique, you can have your spot under the trees reserved and a multi-course meal prepared and served by a prestigious chef directly to your picnic blanket.

Bento boxes of food on a picnic blanket underneath a cherry blossom tree

Bathe in blossom

Outdoor onsen bathing is about as relaxing as it gets. But the experience can be elevated even further if you know where to find private onsen with cherry blossom views. There’s no better way to be at one with nature. Enjoy the soothing effect on your body and mind as you soak in mineral-rich waters and contemplate the very Buddhist themes of accepting and appreciating the transient nature of life that the sakura season is a beautiful reminder of.

A woman in a kimono with a Japanese umbrella walks over a vermillion bridge under a cherry blossom tree

Yukata experience

Bring home beautiful memories and mementoes from your spring trip to Japan. We can organise a skilled stylist to help you pick out and dress in an exquisite yukata before a professional photographer takes shots of you framed by cherry blossoms in a Japanese garden that's typically off-limits to the public. Those enamoured with their yukata can browse prestigious boutiques to handpick one to bring home as a souvenir. May we suggest sakura print?

Ready to book your trip to Japan? Contact us for more information or to create a personalised itinerary according to your specific needs and budget.


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