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Would you believe me if I told you that I actually didn’t plan to visit Japan during Cherry Blossom Season in Japan? The most popular and famous places to see the Cherry Blossoms in the world? My trip just fell in those exact few weeks where Japan blooms pink and I ended up seeing Cherry Blossoms everywhere I went in my 2.5 week trip around Japan?
I know that makes me very very lucky and although ‘go to Japan during Cherry Blossom Season’ was on my mental bucket list, because I hadn’t specifically planned to visit during Japan Cherry Blossom Season, I hadn’t mentally planned for what Japan would be like during Spring or looked into whether it was actually a good idea to visit Japan in Cherry Blossom season!
Cherry Blossom Season In Japan
The quick answer based on my experience in Japan is:
The main positive of visiting Japan in the Spring during Cherry Blossom Season is that it’s so beautiful, it really is!
The main negative of visiting Japan in the Spring during Cherry Blossom Season is that it’s so busy, it really is!
Let me explain a bit further in this Japan travel blog and Japan travel guide so you can make a good decision as to whether you should visit Japan in Cherry Blossom season or visit during another time of year.
Positives of Going to Japan in Cherry Blossom Season.
The Cherry Blossoms really is beautiful! You can read about where I saw the best cherry Blossoms in Japan in this post to help you plan your trip.
Seeing a whole park with a ceiling of pink and streets with ‘cherry blossom tunnels’ really was amazing and totally surreal experience.
The Local Experience
What I didn’t know before visiting Japan in Spring for Cherry Blossom season is just how much the Japanese enjoy Sakura too. From what I saw it is a ‘thing’ to have picnics in the park under the Cherry Blossom. They bring a waterproof sheet for the ground, all sorts of foods and dress for the weather enjoying a picnic under the Sakura and this was really great to see.
If you visit Japan in Spring with friends you can spend your days here doing the same and really enjoying the local experience and culture, especially on the weekends.
Negatives of Going to Japan in Cherry Blossom Season.
It is so so busy! I had a mini-meltdown in Himeji Castle on a Monday morning because the queues inside the Castle were crazy! Miyajima Island was packed full of people and I couldn’t get accommodation in Kyoto because everything in my budget was booked (more on that below), Nara Park which is a huge park was also full with people.
The 2-3 week period of Cherry Blossom season in Japan brings the most overseas’ visitors with people from all over the world coming from places as close as Taiwan, Korea and China to further away like the US, Europe & Australia, it really is Japan’s highest season and the most popular time to visit Japan.
Japan is not only busy with oversea’s tourists but of course, the Japanese are out admiring their Sakura and rightly so, but this makes weekends even busier.
At some points during my trip in the popular areas, I thought ‘maybe Japan is just this busy all of the time now?’, however, I had many comments on my social media posts by people who had been to Japan recently and said it was much quieter when they visited so I guess Japan is not always this busy!
(See below for the best times of year to visit in Japan and the quietest time of year to visit Japan.)
The Higher Prices of Accommodation
I wouldn’t say that the prices of anything but accommodation go up during Cherry Blossom season, the trains are fixed prices, tours I would say are a fixed price and so is food and drink, but do expect to pay more for accommodation in Japan during the Spring.
I was paying between £15.00-£25.00 a night for a hostel room during my backpacking Japan trip, I knew accommodation in Japan is more expensive than other Asian Countries but even I was surprised by these prices.
Generally, expect to pay a lot for accommodation in Japan anyway but definitely expect to pay a bit more during Cherry Blossom Season.
Needing to Book Accommodation in Advance
I planned my trip to Japan quite late (1-2 weeks in advance of me arriving) and it seemed like a lot of hostels had sold out, as I said, I couldn’t see any hostels except 1 available in Kyoto for my budget (which I had extended to £30.00 a night) but there are actually lots of hostels in Kyoto so they must have sold out which meant I ended up doing a day trip from Osaka to Kyoto instead as Osaka had much more accommodation available.
If you are coming to Japan during Cherry Blossom Season I would really recommend booking your accommodation as far out as possible. You can keep an eye on the 2020 Cherry Blossom Forecast here to help you know when the Cherry Blossom’s will be in bloom in each place, but remember this is a forecast!
I used Booking.com to book all of my Japan Accommodation and I’d recommend looking into prices in advance. The best thing about Booking.com is it’s flexible booking options so you could always book and reserve accommodation now and change it nearer the time if you see something cheaper with no cancellation costs!
The other thing I had to prebook and got quite stressed about were the trains in Japan. I had a JR Pass (which you need to get) however you still need to book a seat, at least once a train I wanted to take was full and I had to really plan out my trip around the trains. I believe if it hadn’t been the high season in Japan, I would have had much more flexibility with the trains.
Sakura Season in Japan is early Spring- late March to early April in much of the Country (or at least the main touristy parts of Japan like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima) but it’s important to remember that Japan is quite far North, Japan get’s real seasons and gets really cold in the winter months. So early Spring is still pretty chilly.
I was very cold for much of my Japan trip despite wearing Jeans, trainers and a coat. I definitely had to layer up to stay warm.
I guess this won’t be an issue for you if you know this in advance and going on a holiday to Japan from home as you can pack Winter Clothing but for me, a traveller who had spent the last 6 months in India and South East Asia with only a backpack, it was a surprise to be cold. I had to buy new clothes for Japan as I would have been far too cold in my usual travelling clothes.
Don’t go thinking that because you’re visiting Japan in the Spring, it’ll be that warm Spring weather, it’s very much Winter Sun most of the time.
The other point on this is that although I experienced many sunny (yet chilly) days in Japan, it was still very grey, rainy and windy on some days and the weather really reminded me of early Spring days in the UK.
So be aware of this and pack for Japan in the Spring accordingly.
I know the negatives outweigh the positives in the list, but I think that’s because the positives is quite obvious – it is beautiful! But I really wanted to share the realistic negatives with you and reasons why you should not visit Japan during Cherry Blossom Season.
Best place to see Cherry Blossom in Japan
Cherry Blossom Season in Tokyo is beautiful with so many displays and places to visit.
I personally found that all of the castles in Japan I visited had a beautiful display of blossoms surrounding them.
For my favourite places in Japan for Cherry Blossom, have a read of this post!
When is the Best time to visit Japan?
If you’re now doubting visiting Japan during Cherry Blossom season and want to know when the best time to visit Japan is you have a few options.
Firstly, I would say to keep in mind what is known as ‘Golden Week’ in Japan. I assumed this was in Autumn when the leaves turn golden however Golden Week in Japan is around the end of April start of May where workers in Japan usually get a week off making it an extremely busy time of year to visit Japan.
I guess Golden Week along with Cherry Blossom season essentially makes all of Spring very busy in Japan!
If you want to visit Japan with no crowds, the Winter months are a very good time of year to visit Japan, Karl Watson has made a fantastic video series of his trip to Japan, he visited in January which was much quieter but he shows it was very cold. However, if that’s what you like and you have the clothes to keep warm in Japan in the Winter, Winter is a good time of year to visit Japan.
The Summer months in Japan do get very hot which is a negative to visiting Japan during Summer but that might be ok with you if you head out to explore in the mornings and evenings mainly to avoid the heat.
I have been told that late September to October is a great time to visit Japan if you like warmer weather as it’s still warm but not really hot. However, I can also imagine that just like how people want to see the tree’s go pink, they also look beautiful turning golden too so I think visiting Japan in Autumn is a busy time to visit too.
The below screenshot is from LiveJapan which I think is really useful!
I hope this information helps you make your decision as to whether you should visit Japan in Spring during Cherry Blossom season. I know it’s a huge bucket list item for many people and I totally know why now I have been here for Sakura but remember it’s a popular bucket list item for many many other people too.
I think if you’re prepared for this though, you’ll be ok and really enjoy it!
To SEE my trip to Japan during Cherry Blossom Season, check out my YouTube Videos here!
For more of my Japan posts to help you plan your Japan trip see: