It’s that time of the year again – the sakuras are blooming and millions from around the world will descend upon the land of the rising sun in order to experience and photograph this millennial-pink natural wonder. If you too, are headed to Japan for cherry blossom season, here are some key tips to ensure you make the most of your trip.
Tip 1: know where you’re going
Yes the cherry blossoms are abundant, but don’t go around like a headless chicken. Bear in mind that there will be literally millions of tourists, so you’ll need to know exactly where you’re going and when if you want to nail that shot. The flowers bloom at different times across the country, and every year, the JNTO’s website releases a blooming forecast. Check this regularly as temperate changes can affect the dates!
Tip 2: utilise the rail pass
As you are probably well aware, private transport in Japan isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to avoid cabs unless you’re flush with cash. Instead, get yourself a JR Pass (Japan Rail pass), which lets you travel on bullet trains around Japan and on some lines within Tokyo. Note that upon purchase, you’ll need to prove that you aren’t a resident by showing your passport, so have that with you. Get more information on pricing here.
Tip 3: don’t be there just for the blossoms
Ok we get it, the blooms are gorgeous and make for wonderfully romantic photos, but please, don’t just go all the way to Japan for flowers and ignore everything else! Too often we’ve met tourists who literally head there to take snaps for social media, and spend the rest of their time in just 1 city. The country offers a wealth of experiences that you should definitely make time for whilst you’re there. In Tokyo, satisfy your inner geek at Akihabara Town; get up before dawn to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market and grab the freshest seafood for breakfast; treat yourself to a day of shopping at Ginza. For the blossoms, you’ll want to head to Chidorigafuchi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and Meguro River.
In Kyoto, the heart of ancient Japan, the Golden Pavilion is a must-visit at sunrise or sunset, where you’ll see rays of soft sunlight glinting gently off its facade. It is also where you’re still able to see geisha going about their day, but please don’t harass or stop them for photographs – they are working! In Osaka, you’ll find that your inner foodie will be more than satisfied.
You get the idea – do your due research before visiting and you’ll leave Japan with more than just a memory card full of sakura images.
Tip 4: eat and play like a local
During cherry blossom season, you’ll find tons of festivals happening around the country. It is a wonderful way to celebrate with the locals, and to experience some traditions. And while Japan is a country full of amazing eateries, you must take this opportunity to buy bento boxes from the food trucks around popular cherry blossoms sites and picnic amongst the blooms. You’ll save a bit of cash too!