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2024.02 Sakura and Beyond: Famous Japanese Flowers to Check Out in 2024 Flower viewing, a breathtaking Japanese cultural pastime

Japan’s differing weather patterns throughout the year create a cycle of new flower varieties blossoming, coloring the country in beautiful hues that invite travelers to explore and experience its parks, gardens and natural environment. The most famous flowers are sakura, the iconic cherry blossoms, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg of Japanese flower viewing and outdoor events. Many types of flowers can be enjoyed on day trips from the country’s major cities, or as longer excursions into regions off the beaten path.

“Ume” plum blossoms: A wonderful sight just before sakura every February

The year’s first major blossoming comes with the ume, or plum blossoms, which have softly rounded petals of white or pink and bloom in February. One of the best places to see them is Kairakuen in the town of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. Just 1.5 hours by train from Tokyo   Station, Kairakuen is considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens, and its garden of 3,000 plum trees features nearly 100 different types of ume. 

Kairakuen, envisioned by Mito’s former samurai lord as a space for aristocrats and commoners alike to enjoy, holds a Plum Blossom Festival each year.

The ume concentration is even denser at Inabe City Bairin Park in Mie Prefecture. Also known as Inabe City Agricultural Park, the 4,500 plum trees here are close enough together that when viewed from above, they appear to create a plum blossom carpet stretching out to the park’s edge, or a canopy above as you walk beneath them.

Inabe City Bairin Park features a stunning variety of plum blossom shades.

“Sakura” cherry blossoms: Off-season viewing of Japan’s most famous flowers  

Sakura cherry blossoms are Japan’s most fickle flower, blooming in most of the country in a narrow, hard-to-predict window during late March to early April. Savvy travelers, though, can enjoy sakura at other times of year too.

Tropical Okinawa Prefecture’s warm weather means its sakura bloom in late January.   The local variety, hikanzakura – different from the mainland’s pale pink Somei-Yoshino blossoms – are a darker pink and can be seen along the stone pathways of the Nakijin Castle ruins in northern Okinawa, or at Yaese Park in the south, where nighttime illumination events are held during blossom season.  

Instead of beaches, why not check out a cherry blossom festival in Okinawa? 

Thanks to the cooler temperatures in northern Japan, the sakura don’t arrive until late April or early May. Travelers who missed the sakura elsewhere can still catch them by heading up to Hokkaido and Aomori to view the blossoms in front of dramatic backdrops like Hakodate’s star-shaped Goryokaku Park, Matsumae city’s Matsumae Castle or at Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture.


Hokkaido’s Goryokaku Park provides a chance to see the cherry blossoms after sakura season has ended in the rest of Japan.

Lastly, even autumn can be sakura season for those traveling to Obara, Aichi Prefecture, home to 10,000 shikizakura trees. This sakura variant blossoms twice a year, in spring and autumn. The autumn blossoming in November roughly coincides with the turning of other trees’ leaves to their fall colors, and the combination of vibrant color entices visitors to Obara Fureai Park and Semmi Shikizakura no Sato Park.

Obara grants visitors the unique opportunity to see cherry blossoms and fall foliage together.

“Momo” peach blossoms, another spring beauty

Momo, or peach blossoms, have five tapered pink petals per flower, and multiple flowers can bloom on the same stem, sometimes forming bell-like bunches. Peach blossoms are sometimes overlooked because their primary blooming period, between mid-March and mid-April, largely overlaps with peak sakura season. 

Nagano Prefecture’s Achi, though, is a place where the peach blossoms take center stage. The cool mountain climate means the flowers arrive a little later, appearing from early April to early May, and when they do, Achi’s nearly 10,000 peach trees burst into color, earning a tree-lined, 40-kilometer stretch of National Route 256 the nickname Hanamomo Kaido, or “Peach Blossom Highway” as the view dazzles drivers. Pedestrian paths in the town’s Hanamomo no Sato area allow those arriving by taxi or bus from Iida Station to enjoy the flowers too. Once night falls, Achi’s remote rural location and clean air also provide some of the best stargazing in all of Japan.

Peach blossoms take over the town of Achi, Nagano Prefecture.
Photo Credit: Hanamomo Kaido

Shibazakura, the “grass cherry blossoms” near Mt. Fuji

Shibazakura, known as “grass cherry blossoms” in English, are named because of their color and the fact that they bloom on the ground, not in trees. Shibazakura are actually a type of phlox moss with flowers that usually bloom from mid-April to late-May, most spectacularly in fields to the west of the foothills of Mt. Fuji. With eight different shades of white, pink and purple in both solid swaths and checkerboard patterns, it’s estimated that the total number of flowers is over half a million.

Shibazakura regularly bloom while there’s still snow at the top of Mt. Fuji.
Photo Credit: Fuji Motosuko Resort


A shibazakura field is located at Fuji Motosuko Lake Resort, a 30-minute bus ride from Kawaguchiko Station, making it easy to combine into a single or multi-day visit to the Fuji Five Lakes region.

Osaka Nemophila: Three blues converge at Osaka bay

Less than an hour from downtown Osaka, Osaka Maishima Seaside Park feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Japan’s third-largest city, especially between early-April and early-May. At this time, countless nemophila open their cool blue petals inside the park, which sits on an island in Osaka Bay. The flowers, also known as baby blue eyes, cover a hillside that overlooks the water, and when viewed from certain points, the blues of the nemophila, bay and sky all blend together. While the flowers are in bloom, the park also holds a Nemophila Festival, with merchants selling eye-catching treats such as blue ice cream parfaits and lemonade.

The beautiful blue of Osaka Maishima Seaside Park’s nemophila stretches and blends into the boundless sky.

Endless options: Other flower viewing seasons and locations

With so many options, we’ve still only scratched the surface of Japan’s flower-viewing opportunities. Other highlights throughout the year include the April/May azaleas of Nezu Shrine in Tokyo, June hydrangeas of Unshoji Temple in Akita  , and September/October spider lilies of Eriyama’s terraced rice fields in Saga Prefecture. It’s almost harder to find a time and place in Japan where there isn’t something ready to blossom – in fact, you can refer to this guide on seasonal flowers throughout the year. Whether your travel plans are centered around seeing one particular type, or if you just want to add a quick flower field detour onto a more urban itinerary, there’s always time to stop and smell the roses  , or in this case, one of many lovely varieties of Japanese flowers nearby.   





Inabe City Agricultural Park


Goryokaku Park


Nakijin Castle Ruins


Obara Fureai Park


Fuji Motosuko Resort


Osaka Maishima Seaside Park


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