Photography by Hoshino Resorts
01 March 2023
The first cherry blossom season open to international tourists post-Covid starts on 22 March this year.
Hoshino Resorts has hotels and traditional ryokan inns for those wanting to experience Japan in its most colourful season.
Luxury hanami: Located in the northwestern part of Kyoto, Arashiyama is regarded as one of the 100 best cherry blossom spots in Japan.
The area is known for its famous bamboo grove and beautiful scenery that changes with each season.
Arashiyama features temples, and historical sites, many of which are National Treasures, or have been recognised as World Heritage sites because of their historical and cultural importance.
Located in a valley about one km from Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, is HOSHINOYA Kyoto, named on Conde Nast’s 2023 Gold List.
The ryokan is the perfect place to enjoy the cherry blossoms at a leisurely pace away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
From 25 March to 9 April, HOSHINOYA Kyoto will open the Hanazakura Terrace, where guests can enjoy the weeping cherry blossom trees in a private setting, with the space limited to one group per day.
The terrace offers a series of luxury experiences for guests to enjoy hanami. After check-in, guests are served Japanese sweets and a welcome drink – a cocktail made with sparkling sake and from seasonal strawberries to get them in the mood for hanami.
At night, guests will be served a Korin-zen dinner, which originated in the Edo era specifically for hanami picnics. The following morning, guests can enjoy a hotpot breakfast where they can watch the sparkling cherry blossoms in the sun.
Before departing, they can soak up the afterglow of the hanami experience, enjoying a cup of green tea prepared by the staff.
Cherry blossom viewing is generally associated with the late afternoon or sometimes the evening but HOSHINOYA Kyoto has created a special dawn experience for guests.
From 25 March to 9 April, HOSHINOYA Kyoto will host the Morning Dawn Cherry Blossom Viewing Boat, an elegant boating experience to enjoy the cherry blossoms in the soft light of dawn.
Just like the aristocrats of the Heian period, guests will float along the beautiful Oigawa River, enjoying specially made Japanese sweets and admiring the beauty of the cherry blossoms in the valley.
Early in the morning is the perfect time to enjoy the cherry blossoms in the valley in peace and quiet, away from other tourists or houseboats.
Festive Sakura: Towada City in Aomori Prefecture celebrates cherry blossom season from late April to early May when the region’s sakura usually bloom.
The city comes alive with the Towada Spring Festival. One of the best spots, Towada Kanchogaidori (Towada City Government Office Street), is lined with 165 pine trees and 156 cherry trees and is dotted with artworks, mainly from the Towada Art Center, an incredible art gallery located locally.
Visitors can enjoy the contrast of cherry blossoms and art, as well as the seasonal beauty of the cherry trees, lit up at night.
Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya, one of Hoshino Resorts’ unique lodgings, is located about 30 minutes by car from the city and is the perfect place to get a taste of Sakura season in Aomori.
The hot-spring resort takes pride in promoting Aomori’s culture, dialect and food to its guests and will host the Tange Hanasaka Matsuri event from 5 April to 31 May to celebrate the arrival of spring in the prefecture.
The Aomori people take great pride in this seasonal celebration and so Aomoriya has taken great care to organise this event to celebrate like the Aomori people do.
Located in the northernmost part of the main island of Honshu, Aomori’s climate is perfect for the production of apples. The apple harvest is the largest in Japan and apple blossoms, like cherry blossoms, herald the arrival of spring.
Aomoriya will offer a variety of spring-only programmes where visitors can enjoy hanami (flower-viewing) with apples and cherry blossoms at any time of the year.
Hanami sake is served in the resorts’ courtyard every day at 8 pm amidst the falling petals and almost 200 apple blossom-shaped lanterns.
Guests can also wear cherry blossom-patterned yukata (summer kimonos) or can bathe in the Sakura Lantern Bath, where they can gaze at the cherry blossom decorations while soaking in a hot spring bath.
Nighttime hanami picnic by the river: Nagato Yumoto Onsen, a small hot spring town in Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Honshu, is the oldest hot spring town in the prefecture, with a history of around 600 years.
Hoshino Resorts KAI Nagato located in this area is themed as an Ochaya Yashiki (tea house), a long-established tradition in the area.
KAI Nagato aims to offer guests an experience of the rich culture of the local area with various activities and events throughout the year.
From 26 March to 9 April, KAI Nagato will host the ‘Yozakura Kawadoko Hanami’, where guests can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms in the luxury of the resort’s kawadoko, place at the river, terrace.
The resort will set up hammocks, cushions and tables for guests to enjoy some nighttime cherry blossom viewing.
Guests will be dressed in their rooms in a yozakura kimono, specially prepared by KAI Nagato to coincide with the cherry blossom season, before enjoying a relaxing time on the riverside terrace viewing the cherry blossoms with sweets and drinks.
Enjoy the lit-up flowers in a private space while listening to the murmur of the river flowing in front of you and forgetting the hustle and bustle of daily life.
The space will be reserved exclusively for two groups per day so if guests are interested, it’s best to book early.
The city is famous not only for its hot springs but for its cherry blossoms and is an incredible place to enjoy hanami time in Japan.
KAI Tamatsukuri, is an onsen ryokan with an open-air bath in every room and is located in this incredible town. The resort will have some fantastic opportunities for guests to experience the cherry blossom season.
From 1 to 7 April, the resort will be running night cherry blossom rickshaw tours where guests will be able to enjoy the 400 cherry trees along the Tamayu River.
The Tamayu River, which runs in front of KAI Tamatsukuri, is one of Shimane Prefecture’s most famous cherry blossom viewing spots, with 400 cherry trees blooming along both banks of a 2-kilometre stretch. The cherry blossoms are particularly popular after sunset when they are illuminated, providing a different atmosphere to the daytime cherry blossoms.
The tour was conceived in the hope that visitors could enjoy a special cherry blossom viewing experience in the tranquil spa town in spring.
This year, for the second time only, a special rickshaw will be specially designed and built and operated by KAI Tamatsukuri with more cushioning than usual to make it a comfortable ride.
The rickshaw takes about one hour to slowly travel around the hot spring resort, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the fantastic night-time cherry blossoms.
Guests can sit on the bank of the river where they will be served hot Sakura tea and Japanese sweets which resemble cherry blossoms. The perfect way to experience the illuminated cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Hoshino Resorts was first established as a Japanese inn/ryokan in 1914 in Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture before it began the operation of other resorts in Japan. Today, it has evolved into a highly influential hotel management company and is run by fourth-generation family member Yoshiharu Hoshino.
Providing a unique experience focused on the local charms of each destination and a high level of omotenashi, Japanese-style hospitality, the company has expanded rapidly out of Karuizawa since 2001 and now operates more than 55 accommodations both in and outside Japan with one of the following categories: luxury hotel brand “HOSHINOYA,” hot spring ryokan brand “KAI,” countryside resort hotel brand “RISONARE,” city tourism hotel brand “OMO,” free-spirited hotel brand “BEB,” or other unique lodgings.
HOSHINOYA is a brand of luxury hotels each with distinct themes, conceptualised from each location’s land, history, and culture. Woven into these distinct themes is our attention to detail in every aspect from the design to the hospitality; contributing to the creation of the one-of-a-kind world of HOSHINOYA. Enrich your heart through the wonder of travel and the unique experience that comes with a stay at a HOSHINOYA hotel.
KAI is a leading brand of hot spring ryokan where every establishment offers a contemporary take on the traditional Japanese inn while keeping Western comforts. KAI invites visitors to discover the multifaceted aspects of Japan through natural hot springs, exploration of local arts and entertainment, and classic Kaiseki-style course meals using local and seasonal flavours. Experience Washoku, Japanese cuisine, presented on carefully selected ceramics for full exposure to culinary sensations.