10 Underrated Sakura Spots in Japan for Cherry Blossom Season

10 Underrated Sakura Spots in Japan

See the pretty pink flowers in full bloom, away from the crowds!

The sakura season in Japan is almost here! Just a few more months before we get to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom: March marks the start of the flowering season in most Japanese cities (although there are a few places known for early-blooming sakura). 

For many tourists in Japan, sakura viewing, or hanami, is definitely something you can’t miss during your trip. But while many popular parks, highways, and temples are perfect for sakura viewing, it’s hard to get these places all to yourself. After all, sakuras are one of the main reasons why tourists fly to Japan during spring. 

Not everyone likes to go after big crowds; some would rather visit less packed places to see the Japanese sakuras. Luckily, we’ve gathered a list of underrated sakura spots in Japan where you can unabashedly bask in the presence of sakura in full bloom without the crowds ruining the view!

Also read: Japan Cherry Blossom 2024 Forecast: When & Where to See Sakura

Top underrated sakura viewing spots in Japan

1. Mt. Shiude (Shiudeyama) – Mitoyo

Sakura spot in Mt. Shiude

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Cherry blossoms and the sunset in one? Yes, please! Mt. Shiudeyama is located in the remote area of the Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, Japan. The panoramic vistas of the Seto Inland Sea offer the perfect sunset viewing spot — and it’s even more stunning in spring when the sunset hues flawlessly complement the 1,000 cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

Some travellers will love hiking up the mountain to get to the breathtaking views at the peak. But if you prefer taking it easy, private car rentals are a convenient option for getting to the summit. 

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Shiudeyama: Late March to early April.

2. Hirosaki Park – Hirosaki

Sakura spot in Hirosaki

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Although you’ll never run out of sakura spots in Japan, there’s no doubt that the underrated Hirosaki Park is one of the best ones to visit. The plethora of cherry trees (2,500 in total), cherry blossom tunnels, petal-filled trenches, and gleaming lights during nightfall is the perfect finishing touch to the Hirosaki Castle –– considered one of Japan’s most beautiful castles. Take a stroll along the castle moat, where fallen petals create a soft pink carpet that’s almost too pretty to step on! The Aomori Prefecture park is surely a haven for cherry blossom fans.

Every year, the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival is held here between 23 Apr and 5 May, where tourists can use the small boats to see the cherry blossoms up close or stay till the evening to watch them glow!

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Hirosaki: End of March to early April.

Also read: 12 Coolest Things to Do in Shibuya, Tokyo for First-Timers

3. Nogawa River – Chofu

Nogawa River cherry blossoms

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If you wish to spend your vacation on the quieter side of Japan but still wish to see the sakuras in full bloom, then make your way to the Nogawa River. This river runs through the quiet neighbourhood of Chofu City, so it is guaranteed that there are fewer tourists around the area. Take a walk by the river or set up a picnic against the beautiful backdrop of cherry blossom tunnels and yellow canola flowers.

Fun Fact: The neighbourhood is only 30 minutes away from Shinjuku, which makes it highly accessible to tourists. 

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Nogawa River: Late March to early April.

4. Zenpukuji River – Tokyo

Zenpukuji River cherry blossoms

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During spring, around 400 cherry blossom trees bloom along the riverbanks of Zenpukuji River in Tokyo. Although it’s one of the best sakura spots in the capital of Japan, the riverside park remains low-key and quite underrated. No matter where you walk, the river gives you a stunning view of the cherry blossoms in full bloom. It’s truly the perfect spot to snap pictures for the ’Gram!

TripZilla Tip: Take the train to Minami Asagaya Station and walk for about 10 minutes to reach the river.

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Zenpukuji River: Late March to early April.

Also read: 12 Best Day Trips From Tokyo & How to Get There

5. Kamagatani Park – Ikeda

One of the underrated sakura spots in Japan, Kamagatani literally translates to “valley of the mist.” The name is believed to originate from the 3,000 cherry blossom trees that bloom on the mountains in spring, covering the entire park in a mesmerising pink mist.

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Kamagatani: Late March to early April.

6. Oyoko River

Oyoko River cherry blossoms

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If we’re talking about prime sakura spots in Japan, then count Oyoko River in! It is well-known for its beautiful riverbanks, especially in the spring when hundreds of cherry blossom trees border the river from Sumida Ward to Koto Ward. At night, it’s impossible to miss the Tokyo Skytree Tower which serves as a backdrop for the alluring pink sea of cherry blossoms accompanied by the illuminating lights along the river. Seeing this up close is definitely one for the books!

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Oyoko River: Mid-February.

7. Negoro-ji Temple – Wakayama

Negoro-ji Temple cherry blossoms

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History buffs will be happy to know that the Negoro-ji Temple in Wakayama offers both history and nature in one place. The temple is listed as one of Japan’s national treasures, having been recorded to have the largest wooden pagoda undamaged since 1547. Surrounding this historic place are 7,000 cherry blossom trees in total — encompassing the main entrance and the sides of the temple.

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Negoro-ji Temple: Late March to early April.

8. Hii River Bank (Hiikawa River Bank) – Unnan

Hii Riverbank cherry blossoms

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Everything related to Japan, its history, and cherry blossoms — you’ll find it here at the Hii River Bank. The two-kilometre stretch of the river bank encompasses 800 cherry blossom trees, some of which are already 80 years old! The city has made a conscious effort to maintain this place as one of Japan’s most beautiful cherry blossom sites, employing special gardeners to take care of the existing trees and plant new ones.

Despite being one of the underrated sakura spots in Japan, the city likes to give the locals a spotlight moment by hosting a festival. The festival lasts throughout every weekend in April, featuring local products and entertainment for tourists to enjoy. The best part? Turn your Tangled dreams into reality as paper lanterns light up the night sky and illuminate the surrounding cherry blossoms!

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Hii River Bank: Late March to mid-April.

9. Lake Toya – Niseko

Lake Toya cherry blossoms

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While Lake Toya is stunning every season, it gets even more magical during spring. This lesser-known sakura spot in Japan has one of the most picturesque views of pale pink Yoshino cherry blossom trees along the slopes of the lake.

Picture this: You get a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the lakeshore carpeted by blush pink flowers, complementing the magnificent colours of the sunset — almost as if it’s being painted right before your eyes. At the Shikotsu Toya National Park Silo observation deck, you can do exactly that!

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Lake Toya: Early to mid-May.

10. Kawazu River – Shizuoka

Kawazu River cherry blossoms

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Worried you booked your flight too early for spring? There’s no need to worry because the warm weather in the offbeat town of Shizuoka makes it possible for sakuras to bloom as early as February. The Kawazu River is the perfect spot to take in the seemingly endless spectacle of lush pink cherry trees.

In case you didn’t know: This year’s Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival runs from 1–29 Feb 2024, so expect a festive mood across the whole town when you visit!

Best time to see cherry blossoms in Kawazu River: Early February to early March

Also read: Sakura on Rails: Exploring The Best Sakura Spots in Northeastern Japan by Train 

Skip the tourist hotspots for cherry blossoms and keep this list of underrated sakura spots in Japan to help you decide on which places to visit during spring! Visiting South Korea instead? Don’t miss the latest South Korea cherry blossom forecast, too.

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Patricia Caleon
Patricia Caleon

Patricia is a simple girl who likes to express herself through pictures and words. Not much for talking; writing and taking pictures have always been her way of telling people of her stories and adventures. On a normal day, you'll probably see her reading a good book in one hand and a cup of coffee in another.