The period from mid-March through early April is cherry blossom season in Japan. The native cherry trees erupt this time of year with delicate white and pink blossoms and more than a dozen cities throughout the country celebrate this beautiful sign of spring. If you're visiting Japan during the early spring, be sure to stop and view the trees in one of these cities.
Where to celebrate cherry blossom season in Japan
1. Kyoto. The cherry blossoms bloom in Kyoto the second to third week in March. The best viewing spots in the city include the trees at the Kyoto Botanical Garden, those along Philosopher's Path and those in Maruyama Park.
2. Tokyo. Tokyo also has an abundance of graceful cherry trees. The trees in the capital are in full bloom around mid-March. For best viewing, take a stroll through Shinjuku Gyoen, a park with more than 1,000 cherry trees, or around Kitanomaru Park near the former Edo Castle.
3. Osaka. Osaka's cherry trees blossom in mid to late March. Top viewing areas here include the grounds of Osaka Castle with its more than 4,000 cherry trees and Kema Sakuranomiya Park, which has more than 5,000 cherry trees.
Japanese cherry blossom traditions
Cherry blossom viewing, called "hanami" is a time-honored tradition in Japan and dates back to the 1st century. Called "sakura" in Japanese, cherry blossoms are celebrated with parties and picnics in local parks. You'll even find cherry blossom updates in the local media in Japan, similar to how Americans treat fall foliage. If you visit Japan for cherry blossom season, be sure to dress warmly. The weather can still be quite brisk in Japan during March and April.