Timing is everything if you want to experience Japanese cherry trees in full-bloom. The graceful, pink blossoms only flower for a short time and normally fall to the ground about a week after fully opening. As such, cherry blossoms symbolize the transience, beauty and frailty of human life as well as the arrival of spring. You can expect to see large crowds celebrating the season by picnicking and making merry with colleagues and friends under the blossoming trees. Here’s our list of the top spots in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara for cherry blossom viewing.
This huge park is Tokyo’s top cherry blossom spot. Whether you’re new to Tokyo or just visiting, chances are you’ll be visiting Ueno park as it is home to a number of attractions including Ueno Zoo, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the Tokyo National Museum.
The Imperial Palace
The royal residence in the center of Tokyo is bordered to the north by Kitanomaru-koen Park – another classic cherry blossom spot. Seek out the Chidori-ga-guchi moat near the park or just follow the crowds to see the trees here in full bloom.
It’s possible to see cherry trees blossoming all over Kyoto, but the trees in the grounds of the Mt. Daigo-ji temple put on Kyoto’s most impressive display. The temple itself contains many precious cultural assets and the five-storied pagoda here is believed to be the oldest structure in Kyoto.
This Nara castle is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms and stone Buddha images, the latter of which were used to build the fortress’ thick, stone walls.
This sacred mountain in the Nara Prefecture has over 30,000 cherry trees and is considered to be one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. The Zao-do temple at the foot of the mountain is a national treasure and is Japan’s second largest surviving wooden structure.
The cherry blossom season will be at its peak in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara on March 28-30, 2012.