It might not feel like it, but spring is just around the corner. And for those who love the seasonal blooms, there’s no better place than Japan. More than 60 million people visit the country each year to witness the colorful pink cherry blossoms known as sakura. But it can be challenging to determine the best spots to go for flower viewing—hanami—and when. That is until now.
This year InsideJapan Tours gathered the latest intelligence and created a Japan Blossom Guide that helps travelers navigate this busy season. The interactive map, along with their custom travel itineraries, shares with guests the prime viewing spots away from crowded locations. The tour company suggests spots like Tohoku, Nagano, Niigata, and Toyama that have just as stunning blooms without as many visitors. Plus, you can find sake breweries, onsens, and snow-capped mountains to round out your vacation.
In addition to releasing the map, InsideJapan Tours created a 15-day Northern Highlights self-guided itinerary for the ultimate viewing experience. On it, you’ll start in Tokyo before heading to Nikko, Sendai, Kakunodate, Mount Haguro, and Sado Island and ending back in Tokyo.
Along the way, you’ll check out Takada Park in Niigata and Hirosaki Park in Aomori for prime viewing and also see samurai houses, go hiking and spend the night in a traditional temple lodge. Other natural highlights include the stunning Kegon waterfalls, the 1,000-year-old Miharu Takizakura tree, and the sacred Mount Haguro. The operator recommends that travelers visit Takada Park in mid-April, while Hirosaki is better to visit towards the end of the month.
The cherry blossom season starts in late March or early April and continues through late May and attracts more than 60 million visitors each year. InsideJapan's 15-day trip starts at $6,411 per person.