If you’re planning a trip to Japan in the spring, it is advised to see the country when the sakura (cherry blossoms) are in full bloom. For many, the thought of Japan conjures up images featuring romantic landscapes speckled with those iconic fluffy pink flowers. But there are more reasons aside from the beauty that make cherry blossom season the perfect time to cross Japan off your bucket list.
Part of the appeal of cherry blossoms is the idea of impermanence, therefore, timing your trip to coincide with the bloom forecast is imperative. Most blooms do not lost longer than about a week! Truthfully, it may be a little late this year to book an affordable ticket, unless you are planning a trip to Hokkaido. Nevertheless it is never too early to start preparing itinerary for next year.
Another great attraction is the availability of limited-time and seasonal offerings. For instance, Starbucks or Japanese sweets shops offer cherry blossom-flavored drink and dessert items while character goods shops often sell cherry blossom-themed gifts (like a cherry blossom-clad Hello Kitty!). [We have another article here that goes into more detail on seasonal items]
Arguably the most important reason is the cultural significance of participating in o-hanami (flower viewing parties). To take part in these celebrations can facilitate a deeper connection with Japanese culture beyond partaking in typical tourist activities. This is especially true if you visit a less popular site for cherry blossom viewing, where you may have more opportunities to socialize with Japanese people or try authentic street foods. Even if you do not have the chance to chat with the Japanese, simply relaxing, enjoying the celebration of the changing seasons and people watching will lift your spirits!