Japan is famous for many things; its obsession with robots, its love of seafood and its
incredible cultural heritage, to name just three.
However, when it comes to natural beauty, there is nothing in Japan that even comes close
to its cherry blossoms. These trees are the envy of the world over and have been almost as
central to films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Howl’s Moving Castle as the
main characters themselves.
If you’re planning on taking a trip to Japan then you’ll undoubtedly want to visit some of the
country’s most picturesque cherry blossom orchards, but what do you need to know before
you book your tickets?
We’re here to give you the guide you deserve.
A brief history
Dedicating time to being at one with nature is something that has, for hundreds of years,
been an incredibly important part of Japanese culture. In fact, the practice of ‘forest bathing’,
which encourages stressed people to spend time amongst trees for hours at a time so as to
aid relaxation, has been scientifically proven to be effective.
However, it’s impossible to have a discussion about Japanese foliage without mentioning
cherry blossoms (often referred to as ‘sakura’).
All varieties of cherry blossom trees produce types of small fruit, though mostly these are
bitter and somewhat unpleasant to eat. However, the Japanese people do not love these
trees because of anything particularly practical they provide; they love them because of what
Cherry trees have, for hundreds of years, symbolised clouds in Japanese culture. It is
thought that this mindset began because the trees bloom together all at once, appearing as
suddenly as clouds. They act as a metaphor for the fact that life is a constant series of transitions and changes, which in turn encourages people to take the time to appreciate
what is around them, rather than rushing to the next thing.
What time of year is best?
This depends entirely on where in Japan you are going. If you’re heading to Japan’s
southern islands – Okinawa or Miyako, for example – then you’ll be able to see the cherry
blossoms bloom as early as January. However, if you’re heading to the far north, you’re
probably best going after May, and perhaps even as late as July. However, the general rule
of thumb is that if you head to any of Japan’s major cities – Tokyo or Kyoto, for example –
then you should plan to visit towards the end of April.
Where should you go?
This depends entirely on what else you want to be surrounded by. If you want to sit on a
tropical beach with the cherry blossoms as the backdrop to your Instagram pictures, then
you should go as far south as possible. If you want the cherry blossoms to bloom while
surrounded by mountains and, possibly, snow, then head north. Most people will, however,
find themselves lured to the major conurbations. And, while the trees in the country’s main
cities are not always surrounded by peaceful scenes of rural beauty, there is something
incredibly special about seeing one of nature’s most breathtaking creations at the very heart
of humanity’s most technologically advanced cities.
Looking to plan your trip to The Land of the Rising Sun? There is no better time than now!