From late March to mid-April, Japan’s world-renowned sakura (cherry blossoms) attract visitors from across the globe as their delicate pink flowers blanket the country in pastel splendour.
Claudio Saita, Deputy CEO and Executive Director in Australia for Tokio Marine, said the country’s popularity is consistently increasing amongst Aussie travellers and cherry blossom season is one of the best times to visit.
“In 2015, Australian visitor numbers were the highest ever recorded from the Japanese National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) with a 24.3 per cent increase year-on-year,” Saita said.
“The Japanese ski season was the most popular time to visit, but tourism noticeably spiked in March and April as Aussies travelled to enjoy hanami, or cherry blossom viewing.”
Insider tips to Japan’s cherry blossom season
– The season if very fleeting, with trees reaching mankai (full bloom) roughly one week after kaika (when the first blossoms open). Whether you’re planning a trip or are already there, check japan-guide.com for the latest info on predicted blooming times to ensure you don’t miss it! The exact date for each region differs from year to year according to the weather and is closely monitored by media as the full ‘cherry blossom front’ moves slowly northward.
– During hanami season, Japan goes cherry blossom mad. Not only are there blossom-themed events and festivals up and down the country, but even products in the supermarkets reflect the fleeting season. Be sure to try the limited edition sakura-flavoured foods and drinks during your stay – a true cultural treat.
– Read up on the history to tap into the true cultural significance of this annual event. In ancient Japan, the cherry blossom announced rice-planting season and was used to forecast the year’s harvest. It has also been celebrated as a metaphor for life itself and is believed to have begun during the Nara Period (710-794).
– Be sure to get out and about to enjoy hanami at different times of day. Alongside blue skies you can view the sakura at dusk, set against hanging street lanterns creating a glowing pink canopy.
– Consider sticking around after blooming. After around a week, the sakura will fall from the trees creating stunning petal storms – a great photo opp for budding photographers.
– If you are looking to travel outside of peak season yet still enjoy the blooms, consider visiting Okinawa in the south, where the cherry blossoms open as early as January, or try the northern island of Hokkaido where they bloom as late as May.