There are many fascinating aspects to Japan, but sakura season (or cherry blossom season) is probably one of the most well-known and iconic parts of visiting this country. Not only is cherry blossom season gorgeous to see, but Spring is an incredibly meaningful time of year in Japan. Come springtime, multitudes of locals and tourists will be heading outdoors to celebrate the new beginnings that the season represents. And if you’re planning on being in Tokyo for sakura season, here’s everything you need to know so you can make it an unforgettable experience!
Dress for success
It may be springtime in Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean the weather is going to be warm and balmy! You can still feel the winter chill in March and even into April, which means you should go prepared. Pack layers so you can put on more clothes if the weather calls for it, and be sure to take a warm jacket so you stay toasty while out viewing the cherry blossoms. Temperatures average around 15 degrees Celsius / 59 Fahrenheit, so pack accordingly and have a great time!
Hanami is basically the act of viewing cherry blossoms, and is a great cultural experience. After you’ve dressed properly for the occasion, head out to explore some of Tokyo’s most famous spots for hanami. These include Ueno Park, Yasukuni Shrine, and the Shinjuku area of the city. And hanami isn’t just limited to daytime, you can hit these hanami hotspots at night too and you’ll find some of them lit up with lights—this takes the magic of sakura to a whole new level!
Still, there’s much more to hanami than simply giving sakura trees a cursory glance, so read on for a quick how-to on proper hanami. First off, this is an outdoor activity where you’re expected to enjoy a significant amount of time beneath the cherry blossom trees. There are food stalls at all the major cherry blossom spots, but these can be quite expensive so you’re probably better off packing your own picnic instead. Picnicking while admiring the cherry blossoms is a popular pastime during this season, so just do as the locals do: throw down a blanket, stretch out, and eat your bento box while gazing up at the sakura!
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Busy spring bees
Because sakura season is so popular and important in Japan, this is one of the busiest times of year for travel. It’s important to keep this in mind when you head to Tokyo. Because while sakura season is wonderful, it can also be a crowded experience as loads of people will be out doing the same thing you are: enjoying the cherry blossoms. If you plan to travel outside Tokyo to see cherry blossoms in other areas, take care to book your train tickets and hotels sooner rather than later.
Every year legions of meteorologists are dispatched to track cherry blossoms and provide a forecast for when sakura season will hit different parts of the country. And while Japan prides itself on efficiency and punctuality (its transport system is definitely a testament to this), that doesn’t mean that sakura forecasts are always 100% on point. Sometimes cherry blossoms can be delayed or rushed due to sudden changes in weather and temperature, which can be disappointing if you’ve traveled a long ways only to miss peak cherry blossom season altogether. Keep an eye on local daily forecasts to keep up with last minute changes and try to adjust accordingly. If you discover that you’re going to miss sakura season, don’t panic. There’s plenty of other fun things to do in Tokyo, so you can still plan an epic trip without the cherry blossoms!
Cherry blossom delights
Sakura season is so hugely important in Japan that products centered around the season start to pop up all over the place. From cherry blossom flavored ice-cream, to themed drinks, you’ll find a multitude of tasty things to try in Tokyo during sakura season. Even McDonald’s has a cherry blossom burger complete with pink buns!
Are you heading to Japan for cherry blossom season? What are some of the things you’re looking forward to? Which tips did you find the most helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!