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During cherry blossom season the moat’s 700-metre pedestrian path is covered with the snow-white blossoms of about 260 cherry trees, creating a gorgeous tunnel of flowers. You can hire rowboats and take in the views of the blossoms from the water. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Takato Castle Ruins Park, Nagano Prefecture
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It may be spring but it almost seems like winter in the grounds of Takato Castle Ruins Park with the littering of blush-coloured petals overhead. More than 1500 Kohigan trees blanket the park and the gathering is such a spectacle, there’s even an annual festival – Takato Castle Ruins Park Cherry Blossom Festival ¬¬– to celebrate the splendour. Flowering season: early to mid April.
Hirosaki Park, Hirosaki
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Located near the northern tip of Honshu island, Hirosaki city is renowned for its castle (originally built in the early 17th century) in Hirosaki Park, which is one of the most scenic spots for viewing cherry blossoms. Flowering season: late April to early May.
Nishi Park, Fukuoka
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Picture a path among green grass shadowed by over a thousand puffs of cherry trees, with plenty of space for a hanami picnic. That’s Fukuoka’s Nishi Park, located on the northern shore of Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. A popular pastime during cherry blossom season, picnicking takes almost no preparation here, with food stalls frequently filling the park for the blossom-admiring visitors. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Japan Mint, Osaka
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With more than 300 cherry trees encompassing 100 varieties, the Japan Mint is famed for its avenue of cherry blossoms in the garden, which is open to the public for one week in April. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture
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Known as “little Kyoto”, the town of Kakunodate features cherry trees that line the Hinokinai River, creating a magnificent two-kilometre tunnel of blossoms. Flowering season: late April to early May.
Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi Prefecture
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This is the perfect place to view cherry blossoms against a backdrop of Mount Fuji. There are rows of cherry trees along the lake’s eastern promenade, while on the northern shore several hundred trees provide a fantastic spot for hanami. Flowering season: mid-April.
Handayama Botanical Garden, Okayama
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Just over a two-hour drive east of Hiroshima, the city of Okayama has its own haven of fluttery petals. Walkways transform into tunnels roofed by around 1000 pastel-hued cherry trees of 45 varieties but that’s not the only flora to admire: set on a hill, the park also overlooks the city of Okayama and houses 150,000 plants in its 11-hectare space. Open every day excluding Tuesdays, this garden, which has been open to the public for more than 50 years, charges an admission fee. Flowering season: from early April.
Meguro River, Tokyo
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The Meguro River that flows through Tokyo offers fantastic sakura viewing, with more than 800 cherry trees creating a canopy above the promenade. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Nagoya Castle, Nagoya
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One of Japan’s most well-known fortresses, Nagoya Castle is famed for its Somei Yoshino trees and weeping cherry trees planted around the park and along its moats. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Fuji Five Lakes, Shizuoka Prefecture
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In addition to Lake Kawaguchi, there are four more lakes ringed around the snow-dusted Mount Fuji that make for an excellent viewing spots of both the active volcano and the blooms. The lakes themselves – Yamada, Yamanako, Saiko, Shoji and Motosu – were formed several centuries ago by lava flows and are dotted around the mount’s northern base. What can you expect? Towering Mount Fuji perfectly framed by the delicate flowers, with a mirrored lake reflecting the beautiful scene. Flowering season: mid April.
Ueno Park, Tokyo
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Tokyo’s Ueno Park is home to 1200 cherry trees and is one of Japan’s most crowded spots come cherry blossom season. (While you’re there, be sure to visit the Tokyo National Museum and Ueno Zoo.) The cherry trees are lit up during the evenings. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Mount Yoshino, Yoshino
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A UNESCO World Heritage site, Mount Yoshino features more than 30,000 white mountain cherry trees and is one of the most scenic spots to take in the blossoms. The mountain is divided into four regions – Shimo-senbon, Naka-senbon, Kami-senbon and Oku-senbon – and the flowers begin blossoming from the bottom until the whole mountain is in full bloom. Flowering season: early to mid April.
Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto
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Snaking through the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, this picturesque path follows a quiet canal littered with low-hanging cherry blossom trees. Making your way along the two-kilometre path, you’ll pass all manner of boutiques and cafés and even a number of temples and shrines. Considering the beauty of the trail, it’s little wonder this route was a favourite of 20th century philosopher and professor Nishida Kitaro, who would lose his troubles in meditation while wandering this way daily en route to Kyoto University. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Himeji Castle, Himeji
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As one of Japan’s 12 remaining castles in their original state, it’s quite the sight to see World Heritage-listed Himeji Castle fringed by such soft, natural beauty. Known as the White Heron Castle, the snowy colour of the building’s exterior is a perfect accompaniment to the pale pink of nearby cherry blossom flowers so make certain to explore the castle grounds linked with walkways under the reach of the laden branches. Flowering season: late March to early April.
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On the outskirts of Kyoto is the bustling district of Arashiyama, at the base of the Arashiyama Mountains. Blossoming cherry trees can be seen around Togetsukyo Bridge and the lakeside Daikaku-ji Temple. Flowering season: late March to early April.
Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo
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Like an ethereal watercolour brought to life, the shades of sakura that burst to life within Shinjuku Gyoen – one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular public parks – are as pretty as a painted picture. More than 400 somei yoshino trees flourish among the park’s other shrubbery, with a dozen species creating a helpfully long hanami season for time-poor visitors. Flowering season: mid March to early April.
Takayama City, Takayama
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If your trip is planned a little later in the flowering season, Takayama – in the mountains of the Gifu Prefecture four and a half hours drive northwest of Tokyo – is a worthy detour. An easy 15-minute stroll from the station is the meandering Enakogawa River, which leads walkers through a gathering of traditional houses, under the shade of a multitude of petal-heavy trees. Flowering season: mid April to late April.
Megijima Island, Takamatsu
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Certainly the hundreds of cherry blossoms dotted around the island’s mountaintop park still stun visitors but the edges of this tiny inland atoll – home to just 200 people and a 20-minute ferry ride from Takamatsu Port – also pack a photogenic punch. Located in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea, the cherry blossoms draped in front of the endless waters makes for quite the picturesque setting. Flowering season: from late March to early April.
Okinawa and Hokkaido
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Here’s an insider tip from World2Cover: “If you are looking to travel outside of peak season yet still enjoy the blooms, consider visiting Okinawa [Prefecture] in the south, where the cherry blossoms open as early as January, or try the northern island of Hokkaido where they bloom as late as May.”
Up Next: 12 Thrilling Reads to Kill Time on a Long Layover
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A slew of excellent novels have recently been released in Australia. Stock up before your next holiday to block out the noise and get through all the long waits that are the necessary evil of travel. Brought to you by Penguin Books Australia.