HOME Japan's 10 Breathtaking Cherry Blossom Festivals in 2024: Get Ready to Be Blown Away!
Japan's 10 Breathtaking Cherry Blossom Festivals in 2024: Get Ready to Be Blown Away!

Japan's 10 Breathtaking Cherry Blossom Festivals in 2024: Get Ready to Be Blown Away!

Last updated: 14 February 2024

Japan's cherry blossom festivals are a celebration of spring and the blooming sakura trees.

As the warmth of spring arrives, Japan's cherry blossom trees burst into bloom, adorning river banks, parks, streets, and schools. This is the season when many people celebrate with Sakura Matsuri, festivals dedicated to cherishing the beauty of the sakura.

Here, we will delve into some of the history and background of Japan's renowned cherry blossom festivals and introduce fun events being held this year.

What are Japan's Cherry Blossom Festivals All About?

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Cherry blossom festivals (also known as sakura matsuri) are held during early spring in parks amidst rows upon rows of cherry blossom trees. What goes on at the festivals may vary by location, but these events usually include a variety of entertainment and activities centered around the beauty of the cherry blossoms, such as hanging paper lanterns and watching nighttime light-ups.

Some places are not open to the general public, such as Osaka City's famous Cherry Blossom Viewing at the Osaka Mint. (Applications for 2024 will be accepted online on a first-come, first-served basis. There are also live music venues and stalls. Many people in the suburbs look forward to the Cherry blossom festivals every year.

Cherry blossom festivals and other events are held at famous cherry blossom spots. Visiting to see the cherry blossoms is called "hanami" (literally, "flower viewing"). Many people enjoy picnicking under the trees during hanami.

Brief History and Background of Cherry Blossom Festivals

Salawin Chanthapan / Shutterstock.com
Salawin Chanthapan / Shutterstock.com

Hanami is an old Japanese custom dating back 1300 years ago to the Nara Period. It was started in Nara, which was Japan's capital at the time, by aristocrats who would go to see the blossoming "ume," or plum trees. The focus of hanami is said to have switched from plum to cherry blossom trees about 1200 years ago during the Heian Period.

This pastime spread from the emperor and aristocrats in Kyoto to the common people of Tokyo during the Edo Period. People gathered, opened up shops, and the cherry blossom festival was born. As time went on, street lights and lanterns were added, and soon, people could enjoy the cherry blossoms, even at night.

Since the 2000s, more and more places have included live music and nighttime light-ups at the temples and shrines.

10 Famous Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan

Here are some of the most popular Cherry blossom festival venues, selected from amongst the top 100 cherry blossom spots in Japan.

1. Goryokaku Cherry Blossom Festival (Hakodate City, Hokkaido)

1. Goryokaku Cherry Blossom Festival (Hakodate City, Hokkaido)

The Goryokaku Park Cherry Blossom Festival is a must-see event for visitors to Japan during the spring season. It's an extraordinary opportunity to witness the magical beauty of nearly 1,500 cherry blossom trees, which are illuminated at night, creating a breathtaking sight that's simply unforgettable.

Goryokaku Park, where the festival takes place, is also a historical site that boasts Japan's largest Western-style fort. The park's star-shaped castle ruins and original structures behind it were built by the Tokugawa Shogunate, a dynasty that ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. The design of the fort was revolutionary for its time and played a significant role in the country's military history.

To fully appreciate the stunning cherry blossoms and the unique beauty of the fort, visitors can head to the neighboring Goryokaku Tower, which stands at 107 meters tall. From the observation deck of the tower, visitors can look out over the sea of pink-dyed cherry blossoms and the star-shaped fort, providing a panoramic view that's simply breathtaking. Make sure to bring your camera along to capture the unforgettable moment!

  • Usual event period: late April to mid-May
  • Annual event activities: Night-time illumination; barbecuing allowed in designated areas during the event period.
    (*See the official website for details.)

2. Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival (Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture)

Shawn.ccf / Shutterstock.com
Shawn.ccf / Shutterstock.com

Hirosaki Park's Cherry Blossom Festival has a rich history that spans over a century. The festival dates back to 1916 when visitors could enjoy the cherry blossoms at night thanks to street lights and illuminations. The park was alive with excitement, featuring a vibrant atmosphere with people enjoying delicious dumplings, food stalls, and various visual entertainments.

Today, Hirosaki Park continues to celebrate the tradition of cherry blossom festivals with a magnificent light-up event that takes place from sunset until 10 PM. The park's iconic white castle walls, the verdant old pine trees, and the stunning cherry blossoms all come together to create a sight that's truly awe-inspiring.

The park's cherry blossoms are particularly famous for their vibrant colors and unique shapes. With over 2,500 cherry blossom trees of different varieties, visitors can marvel at the different hues of pink and white blossoms, which create a beautiful contrast against the lush greenery of the park.

The festival is not just about admiring the beauty of the cherry blossoms, but also about experiencing the rich culture and traditions of Japan. You can find a variety of local food and handicraft stalls, and visitors can enjoy traditional Japanese shamisen performances and more. Hirosaki Park's Cherry Blossom Festival is undoubtedly an experience that should not be missed!

Event period: April 19 - May 5, 2024. Light-up from sunset to 10 PM.
  • Annual event activities: Nighttime light-up, shamisen performance, and more.

3. Tsuruoka Cherry Blossom Festival (Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture)

3. Tsuruoka Cherry Blossom Festival (Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture)

The Tsuruoka Cherry Blossom Festival is an enchanting event that takes place in Tsuruoka Park, located within the Tsuruoka Castle Ruins. The park is transformed into a lively festival ground, with food stalls lining its streets and Japanese paper lanterns, known as "bonbori," softly illuminating the 720 cherry blossom trees. Visitors can witness a spectacular display of various cherry blossom varieties, including the delicate Yoshino and the majestic weeping cherry trees, all of which come to life during the festival season.

The festival is not just about admiring the cherry blossoms, but also about experiencing the rich culture and traditions of the region. You can find a variety of local food and handicraft stalls, offering a chance to sample some tasty street foods. The festival is an excellent opportunity to taste authentic Japanese cuisine and immerse yourself in the local culture.

  • Annual Event Period: Early April
  • Annual Event Activities: Food stalls, bonbori lanterns (5:30 - 9 PM)
  • Tsurugaoka Castle Remains
    • Address 4 Babacho, Tsuruoka-shi, Yamagata 997-0035
    • Nearest Station Ride the bus bound for Shonai Kotsu Yunohama Onsen from JR Uetsu Line Tsuruoka Station (about 10 minutes) to Tsuruoka City Hall bus stop; venue is a short walk from the bus stop
    • Phone: 0235-25-2111 (Tsuruoka City Information Center, Weekdays: 8:30 AM - 5:15 PM)

4. Kitakami Tenshochi Cherry Blossom Festival (Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture)

4. Kitakami Tenshochi Cherry Blossom Festival (Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture)

The Kitakami Tenshochi Cherry Blossom Festival is a magnificent event that takes place along the Kitakami River, where rows of cherry blossom trees create a breathtaking 2-kilometer-long tunnel of pink and white blossoms. During cherry blossom season, visitors can witness a spectacular display of nature's beauty as the blossoms come to life in a vibrant display of colors.

The festival is not just about admiring the cherry blossoms, but also about experiencing the rich culture and traditions of Japan. Visitors can enjoy various cultural performances and events, such as traditional Japanese music and dance performances. There are also nighttime light-ups that create a magical atmosphere, adding a touch of romance and beauty to the already enchanting scenery.

One of the highlights of the festival is the impressive display of 300 koinobori, or carp streamers, that flutter in the wind above the Kitakami River. The sight of these colorful streamers floating in the breeze against the backdrop of the cherry blossoms is truly a sight to behold.

  • Event period: Mid-Late April
  • Event details: Lighting up (6 PM - 9 PM) during cherry blossom blooming period only, folk performing arts performances, Kitakami Jenshoji Cherry Blossom Festival opening ceremony, Iwate Umaimono Market, Onikenmai (devil's sword dance), and prayers for reconstruction.

5. Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival (Tokyo)

finallast / Shutterstock.com
finallast / Shutterstock.com

Ueno Park is a historical and popular destination for cherry blossom viewing, with a tradition that dates back to the Kanei Period (1624-1644). Today, the annual cherry blossom festival at Ueno Park has been a beloved event for over 70 years, drawing locals and tourists alike to marvel at the beauty of the blooming cherry blossoms.

During the festival, visitors can enjoy a range of exciting activities and events, courtesy of the Ueno Music Preservation Society. The festival features a lively lineup of traditional Japanese performances, such as the Daikoku-mai and Kotobuki-jishi folk dances, which are performed in colorful costumes to the beat of traditional Japanese music. The festival also hosts a flower market, where visitors can purchase beautiful flowers and plants, including cherry blossom trees.

For those interested in shopping, the Aozora Antique Market is a must-see. This popular flea market offers a wide variety of antique goods, ranging from Japanese pottery and furniture to vintage clothing and jewelry. It's a great opportunity to find unique and one-of-a-kind treasures while enjoying the festive atmosphere of the cherry blossom festival.

In addition to the festival's exciting events and activities, Ueno Park itself is a beautiful destination that offers visitors a serene escape from the bustle of Tokyo. The park features several museums, including the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum of Nature and Science, as well as a zoo and several gardens. The park is a perfect destination for a relaxing day trip, and its stunning cherry blossom trees make it an ideal spot for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.

  • Usual event period: Late March - early April
  • Annual event activities: Daikoku-mai and Kotobuki lion dance, flower and plant market, open-air antique market, Bonbori (paper lantern) lighting
  • Ueno Park
    • Address Uenokouen, Taitou-ku, Tokyo, 110-0007
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Ueno Station (Hokkaido Shinkansen Line / Tohoku Shinkansen Line / Akita Shinkansen Line / Yamagata Shinkansen Line / Joetsu Shinkansen Line / Hokuriku Shinkansen Line / JR Keihin-Tohoku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Tohoku Main Line / JR Utsunomiya Line / JR Takasaki Line / JR Joban Line / JR Ueno Tokyo Line / Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
      1 minute on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3828-5644

6. Odawara Cherry Blossom Festival (Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture)

6. Odawara Cherry Blossom Festival (Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Odawara Castle Park boasts an impressive collection of nearly 300 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees that were planted over 60 years ago. These beautiful trees surround the castle ruins, creating a picturesque and serene atmosphere that transports visitors to another time.

As night falls, the park transforms into a magical wonderland as the cherry trees are all lit up with colorful lights. The sight of the illuminated trees against the backdrop of the castle ruins is truly breathtaking and is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors.

In addition to the stunning cherry blossom trees, Odawara Castle Park offers a range of other attractions, including a museum that showcases the history of the castle and its surrounding area. Visitors can explore the castle grounds and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the park's tranquil ponds and gardens.

  • Usual event period: Late March - early April
  • Event activities: Lighting up of cherry blossoms at night (6 - 9 PM)
  • Odawara Castle
    • Address 6-1, Jonai, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa, 250-0014
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Odawara Station (Tokaido Shinkansen Line / JR Tokaido Main Line / JR Shonan Shinjuku Line / JR Ueno Tokyo Line / Odakyu Odawara Line / Hakone Tozan Railway / Izuhakone Railway Daiyuzan Line)
      10 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 0465-23-1373

7. Hikone Castle Cherry Blossom Festival (Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture)

7. Hikone Castle Cherry Blossom Festival (Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture)

Hikone Castle is a must-see destination for those looking to experience Japan's rich history and culture. As a designated Special Historic Site, the castle is a testament to the country's architectural and engineering prowess, and visitors can marvel at its impressive stonework and ornate decorations.

In addition to its historical significance, Hikone Castle is also home to a stunning cherry blossom festival and light-up. Every year, crowds of tourists flock to the castle grounds to enjoy the breathtaking sight of the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. As the sun sets, the trees are lit up with a dazzling array of lights, creating a magical atmosphere that is sure to leave visitors in awe.

  • Event period: Late March to mid-April
  • Event activities: Light displays, shop stalls, pleasure boats, bicycle cabs, rickshaws, etc.

8. Mount Yoshino Cherry Blossom Festival (Yoshino, Nara Prefecture)

8. Mount Yoshino Cherry Blossom Festival (Yoshino, Nara Prefecture)

When cherry blossom season arrives, the hillsides of Kamisenbon, Shimosenbon, and Nakasenbon Parks are transformed into a sea of delicate pink and white blossoms. Nearly 30,000 wild cherry trees burst into bloom, creating a breathtaking spectacle that draws visitors from far and wide.

But the beauty of these parks doesn't end when the sun sets. In fact, that's when the real magic happens. Nighttime light-ups are held, illuminating the cherry blossoms in a dazzling array of colors and creating a romantic atmosphere that is truly unforgettable.

And it's not just the parks that are aglow with cherry blossoms. In the surrounding area, inns and restaurants offer stunning views of the cherry blossoms at night, providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic dinner or a relaxing soak in a hot spring.

  • Usual event period: Late March to mid-April
  • Event activities: Lighting up (6 - 10 PM)

9. Osaka Castle Park Cherry Blossom Festival (Chuo, Osaka)

9. Osaka Castle Park Cherry Blossom Festival (Chuo, Osaka)

Osaka Castle Park in Osaka is a must-visit destination during cherry blossom season. With its picturesque gardens and stunning views of the castle, it's no wonder that this park has become one of the most popular cherry blossom spots in Japan.

One of the highlights of the park is Nishinomaru Garden, where you can find approximately 300 Yoshino cherry trees. These trees are the most common variety of cherry blossoms in Japan, and when they bloom in Osaka Castle Park, they create a beautiful canopy of pink and white petals.

But the beauty of Nishinomaru Garden doesn't end there. At night, the garden is transformed into a magical wonderland thanks to a stunning light-up display. The cherry trees are illuminated with soft, glowing lights, creating a romantic and enchanting atmosphere that is sure to take your breath away.

And if you're looking for a truly unforgettable experience, be sure to check out the amazing view of the castle overlooking the sakura trees. With the castle's towering walls and turrets towering over the cherry blossoms, it's a sight that is not to be missed.

  • Usual event period: From late March to mid-April (6 - 9 PM; last park entry at 8:30 PM)
  • Event activities: Nighttime cherry blossom viewing, lighting up, historical events, and no eating or drinking on the seats (planned).

10. Matsuyama Spring Festival (Ehime Prefecture)

10. Matsuyama Spring Festival (Ehime Prefecture)

Matsuyama Castle and the Horinouchi area of Shiroyama Park are the perfect places to enjoy the cherry blossoms during springtime. Visitors can partake in various events, including a stunning light-up of the cherry blossom trees in Honmaru Square and along Tojo Road. The festivities also include a grand parade and the traditional Shinonome Noh performance at the Shinonome Shrine. With so much to see and do, these events are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

  • Event period: Frist weekend in April
  • Event activities: Community Parade, Daimyo Samurai Procession, Stage Events, Shinonome Noh, etc.
  • Shiroyama Park
    • Address 3 Chome-2-46 Okaido, Matsuyama-shi, Ehime 790-0004
    • Nearest Station Take local train bound for Dogo Onsen from JR Matsuyama Station to Kencho-mae (about 11 minutes); walk about 5 minutes
    • Phone: 089-941-0194 (Matsuyama Youth Conference Center, Open 24 hours)

The cherry blossom festivals highlighted above are merely a selection. Alongside popular locations, there are also numerous celebrations held in quaint local parks, temples, and shrines. So, take pleasure in the stunning cherry blossoms and explore the various festivals that Japan has to offer!

Editor: Koji Yashita, Tourism Journalist

*Cherry blossom flowering times vary each year.
*This article was originally reported and photographed in March 2021 and updated in February 2024. The blooming time of cherry blossoms and event schedule and details are subject to change.

Written by:



Kiko Matsuda, Keiko Kimura, Risa Tsuji, and a team of female writers familiar with Kansai. We love eating, drinking and traveling! We share fun information based on our experiences.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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