Japan’s cherry blossoms are as memorable as they are fleeting. The blossoming of the sakura trees unveils the country at its most exquisite, and here in Kansai we are lucky to be just a train ride away from some of the most magnificent viewing spots in the land. Below are six to get you started this spring.
The running river, the sakura trees, and the mountain backdrop make Arashiyama a truly spectacular sakura experience. The riverside Nakanoshima Park boasts many cherry trees, as does the Togetsukyo Bridge at the foot of Arashiyama mountains. Daikakuji Temple, which has a large pond encircled by cherry trees, is the perfect spot for a hanami.
•Access: Hankyu Line, Arashiyama Stn, 10-min walk
The temple Ninnaji is known for growing a type of late-blooming cherry tree known as the Omuro Cherry variety. There are several hundred of these located on the temple grounds, and when the Omuro trees are in full bloom, you know that the most beautiful season in Kyoto will soon come to an end.
•Access: Keifuku Kitano Line, Omuro Ninnaji Stn
3. Kinosaki Onsen
Enjoy both daytime and nighttime views of Kinosaki Onsen’s cherry blossoms. The beauty of this hot-spring town is enhanced at night, when these sakura trees are lit up, with the illuminated soft pink creating a snowflake effect. Cherry trees line the Otani River from Kiyamachi Road to just past the foot of Onsen Temple. The castle in “Izushi Castle Town,” located about 40 minutes from Kinosaki by train, is a great hanami spot.
•Access: JR Line, Kinosakionsen Stn
While Yoshino probably takes the top spot for cherry-blossom viewing in Nara, stunning sakura views can also be found at the lesser-known location of Sakurai. Far into the countryside and rich with sakura trees, you can experience the scent of the cherry blossoms here in a way that is impossible near the bigger cities. The river that winds through the town has steps leading down to it at some points, making riverside picnicking easy.
•Access: Kintetsu Osaka Line, Sakurai Stn
5. Satsukiyama Park, Ikeda
Extending up the side of Mount Satsuki, Satsukiyama Park has five hiking trails with magnificent views of the Osaka Plain. If you prefer to take a more laid-back approach to sakura appreciation, the park also has a free botanical garden, and a petting zoo, that are open for most of the day.
•Access: Hankyu Takarazuka Line, Ikeda Stn, 10-min walk
6. Negoroji Temple
Negoroji Temple is large complex of Shingon Buddhist temples, which has around 7,000 cherry trees on the spacious 3,500,000㎡ grounds. The temple complex is surrounded by the sacred peaks of the Katsuragi Mountains which dominate the horizon at the northern end of the city of Iwade city. Wandering around the grounds of the temple complex is free, but entrance to view the Daito pagoda is ¥500.
•Access: JR Wakayama Line, Iwade Stn, 20-min taxi ride to Negoroji