1. Sapporo – Makomanai Park
Steering clear of hotspots such as Nakajima Park and Moerenuma Park? Then try Makomanai Park in the Minami ward of Sapporo city that’s a 45-minute train ride away from downtown Sapporo. Since serving as the main venue of the Sapporo Olympics in 1972, the park has maintained its indoor and outdoor stadiums, baseball field, and cycling track, and is spacious enough for comfortable blossom viewing. Aside from the cherry blossoms, there are also magnolia trees planted along a path near Makomanai Outdoor Stadium, where you can take a leisurely, uninterrupted stroll.
Forecasted flowering date: May 1
Forecasted full bloom date: May 5
2. Osaka – Kishiwada Castle
Just a seven-minute walk from Takojizo Station, Kishiwada Castle in Osaka is a must-visit, lesser known spot in Kishiwada for cherry blossom viewing. There are approximately 170 trees on the grounds, and the fallen petals floating on the moat’s surface are stunning. As it’s smaller than tourist hotspot Osaka Castle (with its 300 cherry blossom trees), it gets fewer visitors, so you can admire the blooms in awe and peace.
Forecasted flowering date: March 25
Forecasted full bloom date: April 2
3. Fukuoka – Atago Shrine
Compared to Fukuoka Castle and Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, Atago Jinja Shrine (the oldest in Fukuoka and one of Japan’s three main shrines dedicated to the fire deity Atago-sama) is less swarmed with cherry blossom enthusiasts. It is perched on a small hill and offers a magnificent view of Hakata Bay. In the evenings, enjoy a visual treat as the hundreds of cherry trees that flank the path to the shrine are lit up.
Forecasted flowering date: March 21
Forecasted full bloom date: March 31
4. Nagoya – Shirotori Garden
Nagoya is another popular city for cherry blossom gazing, but you might want to pass on tourist hotspots such as Nagoya Castle and Tsuruma Park and head to Shirotori Garden – a much more tranquil location away from the bustle of the city. During sakura season, you’ll be able to see a variety of blossoms from such trees as the shidarezakura (signature weeping cherry) and the mountain cherry as you walk through the flowering garden and stop to sip on green tea at a teahouse.
Forecasted flowering date: March 20
Forecasted full bloom date: March 30
5. Hiroshima – Shukkeien Garden
Popular hanami spots in Hiroshima are Hijiyama Park and Hiroshima Castle. Shukkeien Garden, on the other hand, is much quieter. This Japanese landscape garden in central Hiroshima is a 15-minute walk from Hiroshima Station. There are approximately 200 trees planted around Shukkeien, and the lawns, where cherry blossom viewing parties are often held, are perfect for watching the world go by as well as taking awesome pictures against a backdrop of dreamy blossoms.
Forecasted flowering date: March 22
Forecasted full bloom date: April 1
6. Tokyo – Along Zempukuji River
There are plenty of spots perfect for sakura gazing in Tokyo. The trick is to find somewhere relatively uncrowded, like the area near Zenpukuji River in west Tokyo (about 40 minutes away from Shibuya by train). Still a little-known spot for cherry blossom viewing, the approximately 10km river is flanked by a stretch of cherry trees overlooking the Zenpukuji Park. It is easily accessible via a 20-minute walk from Eifukucho or Shin-Koenji Stations.
Forecasted flowering date: March 18
Forecasted full bloom date: March 26
7. Niseko – Lake Toya
A 40-minute drive away from Niseko, the serene Lake Toya is a great spot for cherry blossom viewing. With rows of trees planted along the lake and Mt. Usu perched in the background, Lake Toya is one of the most picturesque places in spring. A stay at Yamakei Resort in Niseko not only lets you catch the cherry blossoms down by the scenic lake, but also gives you access to adventure parks, cultural tours, and hikes up the nearby Mt Yotei and Mt Annupuri.
*The flowering forecast dates were taken from Nihon Kishou and are accurate as of 23 January 2020.
Singapore Airlines flies to Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo daily. SilkAir flies to Hiroshima three times a week. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com