Lonely Planet has ranked Japan as one of the best countries to travel to in 2016. Why not plan your trip now for Easter? It's the perfect time to spot the iconic cherry blossom!
Every spring season, 'Hanami' is the tradition custom of the Japanese to admire the beauty of the blossom; families and friends gather under the cherry trees and hold a feast. The crowd will fill the park and party until the night!
With more than 1,600 historic temples and shrines as a backdrop, Kyoto is the iconic place to experience the Sakura season. This is the best place to admire the Japanese aesthetics as well as the wonder of nature. Every picture you take will be exactly like a postcard!
My personal favourite is the 'Philosopher's Path', a cherry tree lined stone path along a canal. Cafes and boutiques can be found along the path as well as a couple of smaller temples and shrines.
Arashiyama is on the outskirt of Kyoto, about 30 minutes' train ride away. You will be blown away by the scenic view. The town lies behind a bridge across the peaceful Katsura River, with mountains at the back. Cherry trees are commonly found at the foot of Arashiyama Mountains, and the Nakanoshima Park by the right bank of riverside. Don't miss out the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove!
Nara is the only place you can enjoy cherry blossoms with the company of deer! Nara Park is home to over a thousand wild deer roaming freely in the park. It is estimated 30,000 cherry trees are planted in Nara prefecture. To get the best panoramic view, hike Mt. Yoshino which is also registered as a World Heritage with various temples including Yoshino Mikumari Shrine, Kinpu Shrine, and Kinpusenji Temple. The flowers begin blooming from the bottom of the mountain and continue to bloom up the hill until a full bloom in a month's period. The Hanakueshiki Festival is held on the 11th of April celebrating the spring season.
- Check out the Cherry Blooming forecast for this year! The first blossom usually starts from late March.
- Make sure to plan your Sakura travel in advance. It's popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Accommodations get booked out far in advance, so plan ahead!
- Festival seasons always come with great food! Check out the seasonal sakura-tasting menus and recipes in many restaurants and stores. 'Hanami dango' is the most common snacks you will find in the food stalls during the season, a sweet dumpling in the colours representing the Sakura, the snow and the leaves!