Hanami: cherry blossoms in Japan (photo essay)

I recently came back from a spring trip to Japan. Initially this was meant to be the great escape for some much needed sunshine. It turned out to be so much more (also because the sun was mostly absent).

When I started looking into booking hotel rooms in Nagano, Kyoto and Tokyo, I realised all the hotels were looking pretty much fully booked. And I found out that I had booked my trip in what seems to be every Japanese person’s favourite time of the year… cherry blossom season!

Before we get to the snow monkey baths near Nagano, snowboarding in Nozawa-onsen or some serious temple bonanza in Kyoto, let’s get the most important pictures out of the way and cover off cherry blossom viewing. Favourite moment: having a proper Japanese cherry blossom viewing picnic party with our Japanese friends in Tsukishima, Tokyo. Plenty of laughs, food and sake involved; I totally understand why this is a favourite national pastime, what’s there not to like 🙂

Here’s a roundup of my favourite cherry blossom moments.


Cherry blossoms in Japan


Cherry blossoms in Tsukishima, Tokyo

Cherry blossoms in Tsukishima, Tokyo

Cherry blossom parties in Shinjuku Gardens, Tokyo

Cherry blossom parties in Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen, a huge park in Tokyo

Blossoms close-up

At Nanzenji temple in Kyoto

Trees overflowing with blossoms along the river in Gion, Kyoto

The big gate at Nanzenji, Kyoto

In Kyoto.

Spot the blossoming tree? At Tenryu-ji Temple, in Arashiyama, Sagano district of Kyoto

At Tenryu-ji temple, in Arashiyama

They are everywhere! Even at the reception display at the Best Western in Kyoto

At Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto. One of my favourite temple complexes

The Higashiyama district, lanes leading up to Kiyomizudera temple. Near Gion Corner in Kyoto

Cherry blossoms along the river in Gion, Kyoto

Cherry blossoms along the river in Gion, Kyoto

Have you been to Japan in cherry blossom season?

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  6 comments for “Hanami: cherry blossoms in Japan (photo essay)

  1. 18 April, 2013 at 21:46

    Beautiful cherry blossom photos! Have always wanted to experience them up close, I think Washington DC being the closest place. If I ever get to Japan should look to going around now. 🙂

    • Christina
      18 April, 2013 at 21:52

      Ah thanks Aaron! DC must be beautiful in the spring as well, you’re right. I totally recommend visiting Japan in spring, i.e. late March / early April, but make sure you book your hotels way ahead… I always leave it quite late and this time I had to look around quite a while until I found a few nice places for a decent price.

  2. 18 April, 2013 at 21:50

    Beautiful! I was also at Shinjukugyoen last week and just posted my pictures too. I could absolutely get into an annual hanami habit!

    • Christina
      18 April, 2013 at 22:01

      Thank you! Just checked out your pictures – seems like you saw the biggest blossoms ever!

  3. Felix A. Keller
    19 April, 2013 at 04:23

    I had the fortune to see the Sakura in Kyoto. What a sight! (and sunshine, too…)

  4. irfan
    6 April, 2016 at 06:32

    Thank you christina for lovely pictures and information about Cherry Blossom as well. I reside in Japan and I am also enjoying this season here. How can I upload my snaps.

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