The cherry blossom season in Japan is a magical time of year when even the busiest of workers take a moment to appreciate the fleeting beauty of the sakura. While Tokyo is a popular destination for viewing cherry blossoms, there are many more stunning locations throughout Japan that offer breathtaking views of the delicate pink petals. If you’re looking to experience the splendor of cherry blossoms beyond Tokyo, read on to discover How to See Sakura in Japan’s Alps.
One of these locations is Nagano, a picturesque region known for its gorgeous Japanese Alps and hot springs where macaques enjoy to warm up. Nagano is one of Japan’s most beautiful prefectures and a popular winter destination for skiers and snowboarders. In fact, many Japanese individuals continue to ski in Nagano until the end of April, when the Golden Week begins. Because spring arrives much later in these areas, cherry blossom season can be seen long after the blossoms have fallen in Tokyo.
Hanami is the age old Japanese tradition of enjoying the temporal beauty of cherry and plum blossoms. It is a peaceful moment of enjoyment and reflection on the beauty of nature. In Nagano, famous sites for viewing sakura include Takato castle park, Matsumoto castle, Ueda castle, and others. However, if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the cherry blossoms alone, head to Omachi, a little gateway town hidden in the majestic Northern Alps.
Staying in one of the local Airbnbs scattered around Omachi allows you to live among the people while enjoying the sakura in solitude. The only sounds you’ll hear are running water and birds chirping. Small highland communities like Omachi give a fully immersive experience of sakura season, in contrast to the quick excursions to the park in Tokyo when everyone is shooting pictures.
Other locations where you can observe cherry blossoms
If you miss the sakura in Omachi, you can travel further north, where the sakura season begins later in the month. Oide Park, Hakuba, and Nozawa are just a few examples of places you can visit. Hokkaido is another fantastic place to see cherry blossoms from the end of April to the first week of May.
If you’re not scared to venture off the usual path, look for a little village in the highlands and explore it on your own terms. You will undoubtedly reap the benefits of hanami.
How to get there
The Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Nagano takes roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes. If you’re on a tight budget, taking the bus to Nagano will take you anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on where you’re heading.
The Philosophy of Cherry Blossoms
So, what distinguishes sakura from a blossoming ume or wisteria tree? The solution comes in the short lifespan of the petals — shortly after the blooms have fully matured, the wind begins to sweep them away. Sitting under a sakura tree, it’s impossible not to be reminded of the fleeting nature of its beauty. The sakura philosophy is defined by the passage of time. The little, fair petals are not only a lovely natural sight, but also a metaphor for life itself.
This acceptance of the way of things characterizes the philosophy underlying sakura, and it is the reason why, in the end, it was the cherry rather than the plum that inspired numerous poems, drawings, songs, dances, books, and other works of art and ideas.
Nothing seems more evocative of human mortality than the sakura – and we hope you have a similar “wabi-sabi” experience on your own hanami in Japan!