The season is officially here! As winter draws to a close and the days begin to warm up, many in Japan find themselves seeking a spot to stroll or spread a picnic rug under ethereal clouds of fragile pale pink cherry blossoms. The annual “Sakura” spectacle lasts less than two weeks in most regions, and some enthusiasts find themselves hitting the road in search of scenic spots to enjoy the ephemeral flowers.
Meanwhile, the folks at Rakuten Mobile have been busy expanding their cellular network to connect more subscribers from all around Japan. To celebrate the coming of spring, the team listed up a few celebrated spots to recommend for your 2022 viewing enjoyment.
Hitome Senbonzakura, Miyagi
The name Hitome Senbonzakura – literally a thousand sakura at a glance – doesn’t disappoint: Lining the banks of the Shiroishi River in Miyagi Prefecture are over 1,000 cherry blossom trees painting a beautiful contrast against the springtime snowline of the Zao Mountains.
Goryokaku Park, Hokkaido
The cooler climate of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido means its cherry blossoms are some of the last in the country to appear. Goryokaku (meaning five-point) Park is the jewel of the city of Hakodate, and is home to around 1,600 sakura trees which blossom from late April to mid-May.
Mitsuike Park, Kanagawa
A short drive south from Tokyo, Mitsuike Park is home to 78 different varieties of cherry blossom. This diversity allows for a prolonged sakura-viewing season, with some trees blooming as early as mid-February.
Many who have traveled Japan will be familiar with UNESCO World Heritage site Kiyomizu-dera, whose stage extends dramatically from Mt. Higashiyama to overlook Kyoto from the east. Those lucky enough to take to the temple’s balcony during late March or early April will find themselves greeted by a grand audience of cherry blossoms spreading out before them.
The town of Kawazu was lucky enough to have its name attached to its very own variety of cherry blossom: The early-blooming Kawazu Sakura was discovered in 1955. Flocks of eager sakura aficionados visit Kawazu during February and March to experience the trees’ characteristically deep pink blossoms fluttering about the town.
Usuzumi Park, Gifu
The centerpiece of Usuzumi Park in central Japan is the majestic 1,500-year-old Usuzumi Sakura. One of Japan’s ‘Three Great Cherry Trees,’ the ancient sakura has been named a national treasure. Its name – the pale ink sakura – comes from the inky color its petals take on before they fall to the earth.
Asahi Funakawa Spring Quartet, Toyama
As the name suggests, the area around Funakawa River in Toyama Prefecture boasts more than just 1.2km of uninterrupted cherry blossom trees on each of its banks. Fields of early-flowering tulips and nanohana flowers spread across the land, framed by the majestic Northern Alps. Four for the price of one!
Tokiwa Park, Yamaguchi
Home to some 3,500 cherry blossom trees, the expansive Tokiwa Park in western Japan is all a picnic-lover could ever dream of. From late March to early April, visitors can enjoy a vast sakura paradise here – and say hello to the park’s famous great white pelicans.
The Philosopher’s Walk, Kyoto
Named after two 20th century Japanese philosophers who once frequented it, the Philosopher’s Walk is a 2km path stretching south from Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion along the Lake Biwa Canal to Kumano Nyakuoji Shrine. For much of the month of April, the 400 cherry blossoms lining the path transform into a pale pink tunnel—the perfect environment for those philosophical ponderings of early spring.