With the winter snow starting to melt, and spring on the way, Japan will soon be celebrating its coveted cherry blossom, or sakura, season.
Although many flock to the main cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka to view one of the world’s most beloved floral spectacles, there are some off-the-beaten-path locations travellers can experience the magic of sakura season without the crowds.
One such place, is Kinosaki-Onsen, Japan’s Best Hot Spring Town. From a tropical beach escape to seeing the blossoms in a historic castle town, here are five experiences to help you make the most of Japan’s sakura season.
An authentic experience
One great place to see the sakura both during the day and at night is in Kinosaki Onsen. Found along Kiyamachi Street near Ichino Yu, one of the town’s seven public onsen, the Sakura line the small canal. The soft pink canopy stretches for nearly one kilometre.
Under the night sky experience
If you just can’t get enough, return to Kinosaki Onsen’s idyllic Kiyamachi Street at night for an equally magical experience. Seeing the blossoms by night, is like watching at pink lanterns softly glowing. It is incredibly romantic and the perfect setting for an evening stroll between onsen and shop visits.
A traditional experience
When travelling, it’s often a good idea to do as the locals do. In the case of sakura, the locals love to relax on a blanket under the cherry blossom trees. Enjoying the flowers while eating a packed lunch is a traditional pastime in Japan called hanami or “flower viewing”. One excellent place to partake in this hanami tradition is in Izushi, a traditional castle town nearby Kinosaki Onsen.
Cherry blossoms by the seaside… could there be anything more beautiful? For a truly unique experience, head to Takeno, a quiet village with many blossom trees. The village isn’t far from Kinosaki Onsen. Travel for five minutes on the JR train and walk 20 minutes from Takeno Station to the beach. There you can witness the pinks of the sakura against the striking blue Japan Sea. Hike up to the top of Mt. Jajayama to see a view of the town and the ocean bordered by cherry blossoms.
Travellers to Kinosaki Onsen can take their blossom experience to a whole new level. Immerse yourself among the sakura with a yukata rental and/or a professional photoshoot. Although most ryokans in town offer their own yukata included in a guest’s stay, there is a yukata shop & rental in town, IROHA. This shop offers a greater variety of colours and designs than most hotels, and travellers can choose from a wide selection of stylish models.
It is currently predicted that the cherry blossoms in Kinosaki Onsen will begin to bloom on March 31st and will reach full bloom on April 4th.