Japan is famous for its flowering cherry trees, and the Chubu area of central Japan is a great place to see them. Here you will find a variety of popular tourist areas, including Hida Takayama, Kanazawa, and Karuizawa.
Nagano, Niigata, and Ishikawa prefectures, which will be introduced later in this article, experience cold winters. As a result, you can find cherry blossoms blooming a little later than in Tokyo and Kyoto. The best time to see cherry blossoms in central Japan is in mid-April.
Here we have carefully selected ten amazing cherry blossom viewing spots where you can also enjoy Japanese history and culture.
- Table of Contents
- 1. Hiraoyama Park: Relaxing hot springs and 'forest therapy' alongside sakura
- 2. Ueda Castle Park: Filled with 2,000 cherry blossoms and romance
- 3. Matsumoto Castle: Beautiful cherry blossoms at night at the National Treasure Castle
- 4. Shinshu Zenkoji Temple: Popular with Japanese residents for 1400 years
- 5. Iiyama Castle Ruins Park: Springtime is gorgeous, refreshing and mild
- 6. Takato Castle Ruins Park: Enjoy getting tipsy under the "world's best cherry tree"
- 7. Takada Castle Ruins Park: One of Japan's top 3 cherry blossom spots - around 4000 Somei Yoshino cherry trees
- 8. Miyama Park: Cherry blossoms, the Sea of Japan, and snow-covered Northern Alps
- 9. Matsukawa River Cruise: Watch the cherry blossom tunnel pass by on the water
- 10. Kenrokuen: Check out Kanazawa Castle and see cherry blossoms day and night
- Kanazawa Castle Park, a symbol of Kanazawa adjacent to Kenrokuen, is open for free during cherry blossom season
- Enjoy cherry blossoms in the Chubu region of central Japan!
1. Hiraoyama Park: Relaxing hot springs and 'forest therapy' alongside sakura
Hiraoyama Park (Sakudaira Highway Oasis Parada) is about 80 minutes when taking the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station, followed by a 10-minute taxi ride from Sakudaira Station.
A private car is even more convenient. The Sakudaira basin is surrounded by Mt. Asama (a volcano) in the north, the Kanto Mountains in the east, with the town of Tateshina in the south spreading out below.
The biggest attraction of this area is that you can relax in different places while enjoying the cherry blossoms, which bloom in mid-late April. It is recommended as a spot where all of your senses come alive.
Hiraoyama Park (Sakudaira Highway Oasis Parada)平尾山公園（佐久平ハイウェイオアシス「パラダ」）
- Address 2681 Shimohirao, Saku City, Nagano Prefecture 385-0003
Access: 80 minutes by JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station, 10 minutes by taxi from Sakudaira Station.
From JR Nagoya Station, take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo Station (about 100 minutes), then transfer to the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen at Tokyo Station (about 80 minutes), and get off at Sakudaira Station for a ten-minute taxi drive.
- Phone Number 0267-67-8100
2. Ueda Castle Park: Filled with 2,000 cherry blossoms and romance
Ueda Castle is a famous castle built in 1583 by Masayuki Sanada, a lord and daimyo. It is now a park and is one of the 100 Historical Parks in Japan.
There are around 1,000 cherry trees planted in the garden. Different types of cherry blossoms such as Somei Yoshino, Yamazakura, turmeric cherry tree, weeping cherry tree, Edo higan, and rotozakura are there. Each species blooms at different times, so the season to enjoy them is quite long – truly a must for your bucket list. You'll love the gorgeous scenery that matches the famous castle as it spreads out before you.
When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the Ueda Castle Senbonzakura Festival is held (from early to mid-April each year). Ueda City's product exhibitions and stage events are held, and many stalls around the moat are also crowded. The must-see is the cherry blossoms illuminated from sunset until 10pm. The scenery of the cherry blossoms at night, which has been certified as a Japan Nightscape Heritage, is fantastic and makes you feel the romance of the area.
Ueda City is great for those who want to really enjoy the cherry blossoms.
The area around Ueda Castle Ruins Park can be enjoyed as a walking tour, but there are several other cherry blossom viewing spots. Among them, we recommend Zensanji Temple, which was opened by Kobo Daishi (a monumental Japanese monk and scholar) during the Kamakura period.
The temple grounds, called the Hana no Tera, are not just for cherry blossom viewing - you can enjoy many flowers throughout the four seasons. There is also a three-story pagoda called the Unfinished Pagoda, which is an important cultural property of the country. Here, you can enjoy the cherry blossoms leisurely with its distinctive presence.
Ueda Castle Park上田城跡公園
- Address Ninomaru, Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture, 386-0026
Access: About 90 minutes by JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station and a 12 minute-walk from Ueda Station.
About 180 minutes from JR Nagoya Station to the JR Chuo Main Line/Limited Express Shinano to Nagano Station, 13 minutes to Nagano Station to the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, and a 12-minute walk from Ueda Station.
- Phone Number 0268-23-5135
Hours: 24 hours
Closed: No holidays
*However, paid viewing facilities are closed on Wednesdays, the day after national holidays, and the year-end and New Year holidays.
- Address 300, Maeyama, Ueda Shi, Nagano Ken, 386-1436, Japan
Access: About 90 minutes by JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station, 20 minutes by taxi from Ueda Station.
About 180 minutes from JR Nagoya Station to the JR Chuo Main Line/Limited Express Shinano to Nagano Station, 13 minutes to Nagano Station to the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, and 20 minutes by taxi from Ueda Station.
- Phone Number 0268-38-2855
Hours: 9am – 4pm
3. Matsumoto Castle: Beautiful cherry blossoms at night at the National Treasure Castle
Nagano Prefecture boasts Matsumoto Castle, which is designated as the oldest national treasure in Japan as an existing five-tiered, six-storied castle tower. Matsumoto Castle offers beautiful scenery in every season, but it may be especially famous in spring, when cherry blossoms bloom everywhere around the castle.
Two events will be held from three to eight days after the official announcement that the flowers are in bloom. The first is the Matsumoto Castle Yozakura-kai, or the "Night Sakura Festival." Here you can listen to traditional flute and other performances in the garden while the castle tower of Matsumoto Castle is illuminated and view the cherry blossoms of the Honmaru garden. (It has not yet been decided whether the flute and other performances will go ahead in 2023.)
At the second event, Matsumoto Castle Cherry Blossom "Corridor of the Light," the cherry blossom trees that line up along the outer moat are lit up, and when you walk in the pale pink transparent light you'll feel positively enchanted by the romantic scene! Be sure to take a stroll around the castle and enjoy the town at night.
- Address 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture 390-0873
Access: 150-180 minutes by JR Chuo Main Line from JR Shinjuku Station, 20 minute-walk from Matsumoto Station
125 minutes from JR Nagoya Station on the JR Chuo Main Line Limited Express Wide View Shinano, 20-minute walk from Matsumoto Station or about ten minutes on the Matsumoto Tour Bus Town Sneaker North Course from Matsumoto Station, get off at Matsumoto Castle / City Hall.
- Phone Number 0263-32-2902
Business Hours: 8:30am – 5pm (Last entry 4:30pm) *Golden Week, Summer 8am – 6pm (Last entry 5:30pm)
Closed: December 29-31
4. Shinshu Zenkoji Temple: Popular with Japanese residents for 1400 years
According to the Zenkoji Engi, an early history of Zenkoji Temple, Shinshu Zenkoji was founded as a temple in the year 642 AD before Buddhism was divided into denominations. The statue of Amida Nyorai Sanson (Amida and Two Attendants) is the oldest Buddha statue in Japan and can be found here.
The Maedachi Honzon, is one of the temple's most sacred icons, and it can only be seen for a short period of time called go-kaicho, held every six years.
You can't sit and enjoy the cherry blossoms in the precincts, but you can take a slow stroll and look at Yoshino cherry trees and weeping cherry trees on the road leading to an enshrinement hall, called Unjyoden.
Unjoden is on the top of the mountain, which is a 20-minute walk to the north of Zenkoji Temple, and afforts an especially gorgeous view when the cherry blossoms at Zenkoji are in full bloom, from early April to mid-April.
Shinshu Zenkoji Temple信州善光寺
- Address 491, Motoyoshicho, Nagano Shi, Nagano Ken, 380-0851, Japan
Access: From JR Tokyo Station by Hokuriku Shinkansen (about 90 minutes), get off at Nagano Station. Get on a bus from Zenkoji-guchi Bus Rotary Platform 1 and get off at Zenkoji Daimon (about 15 minutes). Walk about five minutes to the Temple.
From JR Nagoya Station on the JR Chuo Main Line/Limited Express Shinano, get off at Nagano Station (about 180 minutes), take a bus from the Zenkoji-guchi Bus Rotary Platform No. 1 to Zenkoji Daimon (about 15 minutes). Walk about five minutes to the temple.
- Phone Number 026-234-3591
5. Iiyama Castle Ruins Park: Springtime is gorgeous, refreshing and mild
From Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, take the Iiyama Line towards Echigo-Kawaguchi. A five-minute walk from the first station, Kita-Iiyama Station, is Iiyama Castle Ruins Park. There is a playground in the maintained park, so if you are joining with family, younger children will enjoy romping around under the blossoms. Somei Yoshino cherry trees are in full bloom – it is as if the entire hillside is covered in pink.
During the Iiyama Castle Ruins Sakura Festival, which is held when the blossoms are in peak bloom, the petals in the park will be lit up at night. The best time to visit is from mid to late April every year.
Iiyama Castle Ruins Park飯山城址公園
- Address 2749 Ooaza Iiyama, Iiyama Shi, Nagano Ken, 389-2253, Japan
Access: After approximately 150 minutes from JR Tokyo Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, transfer at Iiyama Station and get off at Iiyama Line Kita-Iiyama Station. Then walk five minutes.
From JR Nagoya Station, take the Chuo Main Line Limited Express/Shinano for about 180 minutes and transfer at Nagano Station for about 10 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Iiyama Station. Transfer at Iiyama Station, get off at Kita-Iiyama Station on the Iiyama Line, and walk for five minutes
- Phone Number 0269-62-7000
6. Takato Castle Ruins Park: Enjoy getting tipsy under the "world's best cherry tree"
Takato Castle Ruins Park is not far from Tokyo and is easily accessible. It is a cherry blossom spot worth visiting multiple times. In fact, it has been selected as one of the 100 most famous cherry blossom spots in Japan and is one of three major cherry blossom spots in Japan.
In the Meiji era, Takato Castle was destroyed and then reborn as a park in 1875. At that time, the former lords of Takato transplanted the cherry trees, but some old trees were left behind. Currently, there are more than 1500 cherry trees, and when they are in full bloom, it's magnificent.
Most of the cherry blossoms are Takato-ohiganzakura, and the characteristic feature is bunches of small pink petals attached to branches that make you feel like you are seeing a pink cloud. Innumerable petals make flower rafts on the surface of ponds and moats to delight the eyes of those who take a walk. Takato Ohiganzakura, which is called Tenka Daiichi no Sakura, has so many variations that you will never get tired of it. The Takato Sakura Festival held during the season attracts a large number of cherry-blossom visitors from all over the country. The best time to see is from early to late April.
Takato Castle Ruins Park高遠城址公園
- Address Higashitakato, Takatocho, Ina City, Nagano Prefecture, 396-0213
From JR Shinjuku Station, take the Chuo Main Line/Limited Express Azusa for around 190 minutes, then change for a local train at Kamisuwa Station (about 15 minutes); change to the JR Iida Line at Okaya Station and ride for around 50 minutes; get off at Inashi Station and take the bus about 25 minutes. (Alternatively, a taxi from Inashi Station takes five minutes.)
From JR Nagoya Station on the Chuo Main Line / Limited Express Shinano Go to Shiojiri Station (about 115 minutes) and change to a local train; ride for about 10 minutes. Change at Okaya Station to JR Iida Line and ride for about 50 minutes. Get off at Inashi Station and take the bus for about 25 minutes. (Alternatively, a taxi ride from Inashi Station takes five minutes.)
- Phone Number 0265-94-2556
Hours: 24 hours
7. Takada Castle Ruins Park: One of Japan's top 3 cherry blossom spots - around 4000 Somei Yoshino cherry trees
Takada Castle was built in 1614 as the residence of Tadateru Matsudaira, the sixth son of Ieyasu Tokugawa. The cherry blossoms at this castle are especially famous for being illuminated at night. They are even designated as one of the Top 3 Night Cherry Blossoms of Japan.
The Takada Castle Keep and the banquet of cherry blossoms lit by roughly 3000 lights in the dark night are well worth seeing. Looking down the Mie Tower, you can see that cherry blossoms are projected on the surface of the moat, with pale pink shadows swaying.
The area is lit up from sunset until 9pm, but when it is in full bloom it will be extended until 10pm. At the annual Takada Castle Ruins Park Viewing Cherry Blossom Festival, fireworks are launched and mikoshi shrines are prepared (whether or not it will go ahead in 2023 is undecided.). There are also product exhibitions and stalls selling area souvenirs, which is quite exciting.
Takada Castle Ruins Park高田城址公園
- Address 943-0835 44-1 Honjocho, Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture
Access: From JR Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu Shinkansen for about 90 minutes, change at Nagaoka Station, take the JR Shinetsu Main Line for about 80 minutes, get off at Takada Station. The park is a 15-minute walk.
Approximately 180 minutes from JR Nagoya Station on the Chuo Main Line/Limited Express Shinano Line, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen at Nagano Station for approximately 25 minutes, and transfer to the Echigo Tokimeki Railway Myoko Haneuma Line at Joetsumyoko Station and ride for approximately six minutes. The park is a 15-minute walk from Takada Station.
- Phone Number 025-526-5111
Hours: 24 hours
8. Miyama Park: Cherry blossoms, the Sea of Japan, and snow-covered Northern Alps
Miyama Park is located on the hilltop of a beautiful mountain. If you climb up to the observation deck here, you'll be rewarded with a view of the sea of Japan and the mountains of the Northern Alps.
In spring, around 600 cherry trees are in full bloom, and they are covered with snow to show a spectacular contrast with the shining mountains. This observatory, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view, is a superb viewpoint at Miyama Park. The best time to see the cherry blossoms is mid-April.
- Address Ono, Itoigawa Shi, Niigata Ken, 941-0071, Japan
Access: About 140 minutes by JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station. get off at Itoigawa Station. From here, it is a 10-minute taxi ride.
Ride the Tokaido Shinkansen about 30 minutes from JR Nagoya Station to Maibara Station to the Hokuriku Main Line/Limited Express Shirasagi, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkasen at Kanazawa Station and ride about 50 minutes to Itoigawa Station; about a 10 minute taxi ride from there.
- Phone Number 025-553-1785
Hours: All day
9. Matsukawa River Cruise: Watch the cherry blossom tunnel pass by on the water
Toyama City is a day trip from Kanazawa. Around 500 cherry trees run along the Matsukawa River that runs through the middle of the area, making for an inspirational sight. But to really enjoy the scene the most, you have to take the Matsukawa River Boat Cruise.
The row of cherry blossom trees along Matsukawa is one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in Toyama City, which is also one of the 100 most famous cherry blossom spots in Japan. To take the sightseeing boat, head to Matsukawa Chaya in Toyama Castle Park. The teahouse has light meals such as coffee, ice cream, dumplings and green tea sets, as well as a menu containing treats such as green tea parfaits.
The Matsukawa River is attractive in all four seasons, but the boat tour introduces some of the history of the area and passes underneath and through the cherry blossom tunnel - an activity that you cannot miss in Toyama. As an alternative, you can stroll along the riverside and snap pictures as you go by.
- Address 1-34, Honmaru, Toyama Shi, Toyama Ken, 930-0005, Japan
Access: 140 minutes from JR Tokyo Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, get off at Toyama Station, and walk ten minutes.
From JR Nagoya Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen, ride about 30 minutes and transfer to the Hokuriku Main Line/Limited Express Shirasagi at Maibara Station; then ride the Hokuriku Shinkansen about 110 minutes and transfer at Kanazawa Station to a train bound for Toyama Station (taes around 25 minutes); then walk for ten minutes.
Hours: 24 hours
*Pleasure boat operating hours: (Late March to end of November) 10am to 5pm (varies depending on the season)
10. Kenrokuen: Check out Kanazawa Castle and see cherry blossoms day and night
Kenroku-en is one of the three most famous gardens in Japan along with Kairakuen (in Ibaraki) and Korakuen (Okayama). A garden typical of the Edo period that has been shaped by successive daimyo, it is one of Japan's leading tourist attractions. There is a large pond in the garden, a man-made hill, and there are teahouses scattered around the premises, so you can take a walk through the garden while stopping at these points. About 40 types of cherry blossoms and about 420 trees are planted, and it is also selected as one of the 100 Best Sakura Spots in Japan.
The most types of cherry blossoms bloom in mid-April every year. In late April, valuable varieties such as Kenrokuen Kikuzakura and Kenrokuen Kumagai are in full bloom. In particular, Kenrokuen-kumagai is a special variety with large flowers and gorgeous deep pink petals.
Kenrokuen is usually open for free for one week from the 5th day after the official bloom announcement. Furthermore, the cherry blossoms are illuminated at night from sunset until 9pm, so you can enjoy their beauty in both the day and as you stroll through the garden at night.
- Address 1 Kenrokucho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, 920-0936
Access: About 150 minutes from JR Tokyo Station by Hokuriku Shinkansen; get off at Kanazawa Station; take the Hokuriku Railway route bus, Kanazawa Loop Bus, or Kenrokuen Shuttle for 20 minutes, get off at Kenrokuen-shita/Kanazawa-jo, and walk three minutes to the destination.
About 30 minutes on the Tokaido Shinkansen from JR Nagoya Station; transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen at Maibara Station; after about 120 minutes, get off at Kanazawa Station; take the Hokuriku Railway route bus, Kanazawa Loop Bus, or Kenrokuen Shuttle for 20 minutes, get off at Kenrokuen-shita/Kanazawa-jo, and walk three minutes to the destination.
- Phone Number 076-234-3800
Entrance fee: 320 yen for adults (18 years old and over), free for 65 years old and over, 100 yen for children (6 to under 18 years old)
Hours: March 1 to October 15: 7am to 6pm; October 16 to the end of February: 8am to 5pm
Closed: Open all year round
Kanazawa Castle Park, a symbol of Kanazawa adjacent to Kenrokuen, is open for free during cherry blossom season
Kanazawa Castle Park is connected to Kenrokuen Garden by a single bridge. It is said to be the symbol of Kanazawa City, and it is a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot in the local area along with Kenrokuen. During the cherry blossom season, you can enjoy about 400 cherry trees, including Somei Yoshino cherry trees grown in the Kanazawa University Botanical Garden.
When you enjoy cherry blossoms at Kanazawa Castle Park, you should definitely pay attention to the gorgeous stone walls. Their shape is rich in design: sometimes wild and sometimes innovative. There is no other castle in the country with colorful and artistic stone walls.
The Ishikawa-mon Gate, Otebori Moat, and Hishiyagura turret are also recommended spots for viewing cherry blossoms. Similar to Kenrokuen, Kanazawa Castle Park is open for free during cherry blossom season and illuminated at night.
Kanazawa Castle Park金沢城公園
- Address 1-1, Marunouchi, Kanazawa Shi, Ishikawa Ken, 920-0937, Japan
Access: About 150 minutes from JR Tokyo Station by Hokuriku Shinkansen, get off at Kanazawa Station; take the Hokuriku Railway route bus, Kanazawa Loop Bus, or Kenrokuen Shuttle for 20 minutes, get off at Kenrokuen-shita/Kanazawa-jo, and walk three minutes to the destination.
About 30 minutes on the Tokaido Shinkansen from JR Nagoya Station, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen at Yonehara Station, about 120 minutes, get off at Kanazawa Station; take the Hokuriku Railway route bus, Kanazawa Loop Bus, or Kenrokuen Shuttle for 20 minutes, get off at Kenrokuen-shita/Kanazawa-jo, and walk three minutes to the destination.
- Phone Number 076-234-3800
Hours: March 1 to October 15: 7am to 6pm, October 16 to the end of February: 8am to 5pm
Closed: Open all year round
Enjoy cherry blossoms in the Chubu region of central Japan!
There is no wrong way to view the blossoms. There are blossoms that bloom and fall, and some that bloom for the whole year. You can experience the roots of Japanese aesthetics just by enjoying this in person.
Interview & Writing: Dali Corporation
This article is based on a visit in 2019, and was updated in February 2023. Sakura blooming dates, event dates and content etc. may have changed.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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