Where To Go
Tokyo: The most common spots in Tokyo are Ueno Park, Yoyogi, Shinjuku Gyoen, or Chidori-ga-fuchi (next to the Imperial palace) are the most popular spots.
Kyoto: Maruyama Park, next to Yasukuni Jinja, is the most popular. Check out our article on Hanami Spots in Kyoto for a more in depth look.
Osaka: Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a popular spot with nearly 5000 cherry trees that line the Okawa River. There are a lot of lawn spaces to hold picnics. There are over 4000 cherry plants that are planted on the grounds of Osaka castle.
Kobe: Shukugawa is undoubtedly one of the most popular spots in Kobe. It is located near the train station and you can walk alongside the river whle enjoying the blossoms. You can reach all of these areas through the Hankyu Line.
View the Updated Cherry blossom forecast and plan your trip: Japan Sakura Cherry blossom forecast
When To Go
Tokyo: April 5 - 14th
Kyoto: April 3 - 12th
Osaka: April 3 - 11th
Nara:April 3 - 11th
Kanazawa: April 7 - 15th
What To Bring
Picnic mat:You can pick these at places in 100 yen shops, or better quality ones at Don Quixote
Paper cups, plates and disposable chopsticks: if you are planning to hold a potluck and share food amongst your group, then these are a must.
Plastic cups and wine glasses: these can easily be picked up at the 100 yen store and ensure that a (dangerous) mess will not be made from broken glasses.
Hand warmers and sweaters: while the Hanami season officially marks the beginning of Spring, it can still get quite chilly in the evenings. Make sure to be prepared for a drop in temperature during the nighttime.
If you are going to be celebrating with a large group, then the best option is to split the shopping duties between the entire group. Some people could be in charge of the food, while others are charge in buying other materials.
Alcohol: wine and beer can be easily purchased at your local grocery store or convenient store (if you are over 20 years of age).
Food: during the hanami season, there are foods that are you can eat only during that season. These include sakura mocha, which is a confectionary made of sweet red bean paste and mocha, wrapped in the leaf of the cherry leaf ,which has been dipped in salt water. You can also buy hanami-themed bento boxes in department store basements such as Isetan and Sogo. There are many colorful and seasonal ingredients used to produce these meals.
Yatai foods: there a plethora of stalls that are set up alongside the blooming sakura during the day and night. You can expect to find typical Japanese street foods such as yakisoba (stir-fried noodles), takoyaki (octopus balls), and chocolate covered bananas.
Who To Bring
While the daytime festivities are perfect for a gathering with family (especially those with children), the nighttime festivities are not exactly suitable for a family outing. As with many nighttime activities, alcohol and the celebrations get a bit rowdy. Depending on the type of experience you are seeking, you could choose either the daytime or nighttime activities, or simply spend the entire day in the presence of the blossoms.
Common Etiquette and Manners
Bring garbage bags and make sure to clean up your mess before you leave the premises. While the hanami is a festival that should be enjoyed, there is no need to leave a mess for others to clean.
Do not have a picnic or hanami party in an area where it is not allowed. Ensure to check beforehand that parties are allowed in the place you are setting up.
Although it is okay to reserve a spot for your party with your mat, do not reserve a spot larger than you need. There are many people who would like to enjoy the sakura blossoms as well.
Other Tips To Remember
Spot a toilet before heading to the hanami area and have a designated one that you go to throughout the day/night. The public toilets can get incredibly busy during the hanami, and there is usually a long line. You can always visit the toilet of convenient stores but make sure to buy something small to show your appreciation for using their facilities.