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Cherry tree [West Japan]

Japan's Four Seasons and Flowers

Japan In-depth

Maruyama-koen Park, Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Walk) [Kyoto]

Maruyama-koen Park is the oldest park in Kyoto City, situated on a natural hill. It models the kaiyu-style (walking around the pond) Japanese garden, and is one of the city's best leisure and scenic spots for cherry trees. In the center of the park, you can find the marvelous weeping cherry trees (shidare-zakura) named "Gion-no-yozakura," night cherry blossoms of Gion. You can also explore Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Walk) which is a narrow path from Ginkaku-ji Temple to Wakaoji-jinja Shrine, to see a vista of cherry blossoms on both sides of the river path from Lake Biwa-ko. Many tourists pay a visit to see the beautiful sight of petals floating on the water, and the historic monuments such as Ginkaku-ji Temple, Honen-in Shrine, and Eikan-do Temple. The season of magnificent autumn tints also attracts a good number of visitors.

Flowering season: Late March to late April
Address: Yasaka-Maruyama, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto / Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Directions: 15 min ride by bus from JR Kyoto Station.


Arashiyama, Tenryu-ji Temple [Kyoto]

The area which is today called Arashiyama has been famous for the colors of its autumn leaves since the Heian Period (794-1185) and has been praised in a number of Japanese poems. After cherry trees were replanted from Yoshino (Nara), this place also became a famous site for cherry blossoms. In April, the cherry blossoms flower profusely all over the area from Togetsu-kyo Bridge to Arashiyama-Nakanoshima-koen Park, the bank of the O-i-gawa River, and Kameyama-koen Park behind Tenryu-ji Temple, making this place the most popular tourist spot in Kyoto. The road along the Katsura-gawa River is an ideal place for a stroll since fifty-year-old trees form a tunnel of cherry blossoms. The weeping cherry trees (shidare-zakura) in Tenryu-ji Temple are also splendid. The scenery from Bokyo-no-oka, a small hill in the precincts, provides special and stunning views unique to Kyoto.

Flowering season: Late March to Late April
Address: Arashiyama, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto
Directions: A few minutes' walk from Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Line).
Admission: 500 yen
Open hours: 08:30-17:00


Daigo-ji Temple [Kyoto]

Daigo-ji Temple is on Mt. Kasatori-yama, located on the east side of Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. The area of its precincts is 660 hectares and covers Mt. Daigo-san. Being part of the cultural assets of Old Kyoto, it has been registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) held big parties under cherry trees, called "Daigo-no-hanami," which also made this place famous for its cherry blossoms. Sanpo-in-teien Garden was designed by Hideyoshi himself to enjoy the cherry blossoms, with a waterfall and an island to complement the marvelous weeping cherry trees (shidare-zakura). It takes about 100 minutes on foot to walk to Kaizan-do Hall on the top of the mountain, and this hike is highly recommended at blossom time.

Flowering season: Late March to Late April
Address: 22 Daigo-higashi-oji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Directions: A 10 min walk from Daigo-ji Station (Subway Tozai Line).
Admission: 600 yen (for Sanpo-in-teien Garden and the temple)
Open hours: 09:00-17:00


Nara-koen Park [Nara]

Nara-koen Park is a historical park surrounded by Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple and Shoso-in. Constructed in the Tempyo Period (710-784), it spreads over a vast area (660 ha) of a lush and green landscape. Herds of deer are renowned there as the holy messengers of Kasuga-taisha Shrine, and are placed under careful protection. The park has about 1,700 cherry trees of various kinds, including Narayae-zakura and Kokonoe-zakura. It also offers a number of scenic spots, such as Sagi-ike Pond, the foot of Mt. Wakakusa-yama, the remains of To-do Tower, the Kofuku-ji Temple area, Ara-ike Pond, Kasugano-enchi, and the Todai-ji Temple area. Be sure to allow enough time for strolling here.

Flowering season: Late March to Late April
Address: Zoshi-cho, Nara
Directions: A 10 min walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.


Mt. Yoshino-yama [Nara]

Mt. Yoshino-yama, located almost at the center of Nara Prefecture, is Japan's best location for viewing cherry blossoms. Many years ago, people had a custom of dedicating cherry tree seedlings to the Zao-do Hall of Kinpusen-ji Temple. The trees were later replanted in the neighboring mountains, which is how this beautiful spot originated. When the spring comes, approximately 30,000 cherry trees (mainly Shiroyama-zakura) start blooming from Shimo-senbon (the foot of the mountain) to Naka-senbon (halfway down), Kami-senbon (halfway up), and finally to Oku-senbon (the peak), displaying a gorgeous vista of flowers for as long as a month. The gracious and noble cherry trees in Yoshino were also praised in Kokin-wakashu (a collection of 9th century Japanese poems), and have been loved by the Japanese for hundreds and hundreds of years to the present day.

Flowering season: Early to late April
Address: Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara
Directions: Take Yoshino Ropeway (aerial tramway) for 3 min from Yoshino Station (Kintetsu Yoshino Line) to Yoshino-yama Station.


"Toorinuke" - Cherry blossom viewing at Japan Mint [Osaka]

When the cherry trees bloom around mid-April, the Japan Mint in Osaka opens a passage of 560 meters long, from Minami-mon Gate (Tenma-bashi side) to Kita-mon Gate (Sakura-bashi side), to the general public for one week. This area along the old Yodo-gawa River (Tenma, Kita-ku, Osaka) has long been famous for its beautiful scenery, especially in spring when the cherry trees bloom gorgeously. The Japan Mint has been holding this traditional and seasonal event of Osaka since the end of the 19th century. In the Mint, there are about 120 different varieties of the total 370 extant varieties of cherry trees, such as Kanzan, Fugenzo, Shogetsu, Benitemari, Shibayama, Kizakura, and Yokihi.

Flowering season: Mid- to late April
Address: 1-1-79 Tenma, Kita-ku, Osaka
Directions: A 10 min walk from subway Tenmabashi Station.


Senkoji-koen Park [Hiroshima]

Senkoji-koen Park is a scenic spot of cherry trees located at the back of Onomichi Station, spreading from the top to the hillside of Mt. Senkoji-yama (137 m). The park was built in 1894 by the chief priest of Senko-ji Temple. There are nearly 10,000 cherry trees here, mainly comprising Somei-yoshino, but also including weeping cherry trees (shidare-zakura) and sato-zakura. In April, from the observation platform on the top of the mountain, you can enjoy a splendid landscape over the town of Onomichi and the islands of the Inland Sea. Also located there are the City Art Museum, Bungaku-no-komichi (Path of Literature), and an amusement park, making the park very popular, especially for visitors with children.

Flowering season: Early to mid-April
Address: 19-1 Nishi-Tsuchido-cho, Onomichi, Hiroshima
Directions: 5 min ride by bus or 15 min walk from JR Onomichi Station. Then, take Senkoji-yama Ropeway (aerial tramway) for 3 min to Sancho Station (summit station).

Photo: © Onomichi Tourist Association

Kumamoto-jo Castle [Kumamoto]

Kumamoto-jo Castle is one of the three most famous castles of Japan and was built in the early 17th century by Kato Kiyomasa. The castle has a number of interesting features, such as a stone wall called Musha-gaeshi, the castle tower, which forms a beautiful contrast of black and white, and Naga-bei (the long wall). However, it is the 800 cherry trees that add unrivalled elegance to the castle. The main varieties are Somei-yoshino as well as mountain cherry trees (yama-zakura) and Higo-zakura which make the square in front of the castle tower and the front of Naga-bei a wonderful spot for cherry blossom viewing. This vast castle area is also a cultural place, and houses the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, the Kumamoto City Museum, the Kenmotsudai-jumokuen Botanical Garden, and the Kumamoto Prefectural Traditional Crafts Center.

Flowering season: Late March to early April
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Kumamoto
Directions: 15 min ride from JR Kumamoto Station to Kumamotojo-mae Station (Kumamoto City Tram). It is a 10 min walk from the station.
Admission: 500 yen
Open hours: 08:30-17:00


Nago Castle Ruins [Okinawa]

The remains of Nangusuku (Nago Castle) are located almost in the center of Okinawa Main Island, on the hill of Nago. In late January, Ryukyu-higan-zakura blooms spectacularly, attracting many tourists as the place for the earliest cherry blossom viewing in the country. In 1912, the first 48 cherry trees from the mountains were planted on the approach to the castle. Today, about 20,000 cherry trees with deep pink flowers (Higan-zakura) enhance the beautiful view of Yanbaru (the north of Okinawa Main Island), Nago City and Nago Bay from the observation platform.

Flowering season: Late January to early February
Address: Nago, Okinawa
Directions: Take a bus from Nago Bus Terminal to Nagojo-iriguchi. It is a 5 min walk from the bus stop.