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The Best Sakura Spots in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara That Belong In Your Itinerary

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Spring has sprung! 

Well, *almost*, and soon enough, the beautiful Kansai region will be teeming with delicate pink cherry blossoms once again. But, if you’ve got limited time to explore the most famous sakura spots in Kansai’s most-visited cities, where should you go? 

Here, we rounded up a short list of the absolute best cherry blossom destinations in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara that belong in your itinerary. Let’s go!



Osaka Castle

The grounds of the historic Osaka Castle are home to more than 4,000 cherry trees. If you’re looking for the area with the highest concentration of sakura trees, head on over to Nishinomaru Garden in the castle’s western citadel. The sprawling park makes for the perfect place for a springtime picnic during blooming season.  


Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002

How to get there: Take a train on the JR Loop Line to Osakajokoen Station. Walk towards the direction of the castle from the exit. 

Tickets: While you can explore the castle grounds for free, there are varying fees for the attractions located within the Osaka Castle’s complex. If you wish to enter the castle tower, you have to pay 600 JPY for a ticket. A separate 350 JPY fee is necessary to enter Nishinomaru Garden during sakura season. 

Operating hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM (until 4:30 PM from November to February and until 9 PM for cherry blossom illuminations)


Nara Park

An estimated 1,700 cherry trees dot the expansive Nara Park, which is best known for its resident deer that are regarded as the messengers of the gods. For the postcard-perfect cherry blossom snaps, walk southeast of Todaiji Temple’s main hall and you will find sakura trees circling a massive lawn. 


Address: Kasugano-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture

How to get there: Make your way to Kintetsu Nara Station. From the exit, Nara Park is about five minutes away on foot. Alternatively, you can alight at JR Nara Station, but the walk to the park is a little bit longer at 20 minutes. 

Tickets: You can explore Nara Park free of charge. 

Operating hours: Nara Park is open 24/7. 



Just behind Nara Park, Wakakusayama, which is also known as Mount Mikasa, is a grassy hill with a cherry tree-lined hiking trail. Its easy ascent, allows visitors to take photos of both the cherry trees and the cityscape in the background. 


Address: 157 Wakakusa, Kasuganocho, Nara

How to get there: Take a train to Kintetsu Nara Station. Wakakusayama is a 30- to 4-minute walk away. 

Tickets: To climb the hill, you must pay a 150 JPY fee. 

Operating hours: Wakakusayama is open from 9 AM to 5 PM.



Although Arashiyama’s claim to fame (among international travelers, at least) is its bamboo forest, it offers fantastic sakura viewing opportunities during spring. Cherry trees dot the area of Togetsukyo Bridge right at the foot of the mountains. You can also transfer to the nearby Daikakuji Temple for more sakura sightings. 


Address: Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0007

How to get there: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Sagano Line (or JR Sanin Line) train to Saga-Arashiyama Station. From the station, central Arashiyama is about five to 10 minutes on foot. 

Tickets: You can explore the majority of Arashiyama for free, but some attractions and activities within the area have varying fees. 

Operating hours: Arashiyama, specific attractions aside, is open to visitors 24/7.


Kema Sakuranomiya Park and Okawa River

Another mustn’t-miss spot in Osaka during cherry blossom season is Kema Sakuranomiya Park near Okawa River. Here, almost 5,000 cherry trees come into full bloom in spring, creating a romantic pink tunnel. You can also get a good glimpse of cherry trees in the area by hopping on a river cruise. Every year, Okawa River opens sales for limited cherry blossom viewing cruise tickets.


Address: Nakanocho, Miyakojima Ward, Osaka, 534-0027

How to get there: Take a train on the JR Osaka Loop Line to Sakuranomiya Station. From the exit, you will see the banks of the Ogawa River.

Tickets: There are no admission fees for Kema Sakuranomiya Park. For the river cruise, prices start at 1,200 JPY. 

Operating hours: Kema Sakuranomiya Park is open 24/7. Meanwhile, the Okawa River Sakura Cruise operates from 10 AM to 7 PM. 


Mount Yoshino

Considered one of Japan’s oldest and most famous cherry blossom spots, Mount Yoshino in Nara Prefecture has been a favorite for many centuries now. Based on historical accounts, some of the earliest cherry trees in the area were planted along the mountain’s slopes over 1,300 years ago! Today, the mountain gets blanketed in pink every spring by an estimated 30,000 cherry trees across different varieties. 


Address: Yoshinoyama, Yoshino, Yoshino

How to get there: Take a shuttle bus To Yoshino Station from the Naka Senbon area. From Yoshino Station, you can opt to take a walk around the area, ride the Yoshino ropeway, or take a sightseeing bus. 

Tickets: You’ll have to pay a 500 JPY fee when visiting Mount Yoshino. 

Operating hours: Open daily from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (last admission at 4:00 PM)


Philosopher’s Path

No, this popular sakura spot in Kyoto won’t make you any wiser like a philosopher, but it sure will treat you to splendid views of fully bloomed cherry trees! A narrow 1.8-kilometer-long walkway situated beside a canal, Philosopher’s Path links the revered Ginkakuji and Nanzenji Temples. In spring, it bursts in pink as hundreds of sakura trees come in full bloom. 


Address: Tetsugaku No Michi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8426

How to get there: Take a train on the Tozai Line and alight at Keage Station. Nazenji Temple is a five to 10-minute walk away. Carry on walking north of the main temple buildings to reach the Phlosopher’s Path.

Tickets: Admission to Philosopher’s Path is free. 

Operating hours: Philosopher’s Path is open 24/7. 


Heian Shrine

After visiting the Philosopher’s Path, you might want to continue your sakura journey by making your way to Heian Shrine, which is just some 20 minutes up north on foot. This sacred complex sees countless weeping cherry trees or yaebeni shidare bloom annually, usually a few days after other cherry trees have reached their peak. This makes Heian Shrine an ideal cherry blossom destination for travelers who couldn’t make it to Kyoto during the main sakura season. 


Address: 97 Nishitennocho Okazaki, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8341

How to get there: Take buse number 5, 32, 46, 57, or 100 to Kyoto kaikan Bijutsukan-mae. The shrine is a 2-minute walk away. 

Tickets: The entrance fee for Heian Shrine is priced at 600 JPY. 

Operating hours: The garden of Heian Shrine is open from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. 


Expo 70 Commemorative Park

Officially hailed as one of the “100 Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan,” the venue of the 1970 World Exhibition in Osaka boasts an astounding count of 5,000-plus cherry trees. In fact, it’s the prefecture’s biggest park with the largest display of sakura! Hanami picnics and parties are held from the morning and carry on well into the evening, when cherry trees are illuminated. 


Address: Senribanpakukoen, Suita, Osaka 565-0826

How to get there: Take the train on the Midosuji Subway Line to Senri-Chuo Station and transfer to the Osaka Monorail. Alight at Banpaku-Kinen-Koen Station. You will see Expo 70 Commemorative Park on the left upon exiting the station. 

Tickets: The price of an entrance ticket to Expo 70 Commemorative Park starts at 260 JPY. Additional fees may be required by some attractions within the park. 

Operating hours: Thursdays to Tuesdays, from 9:30 AM to 5 PM. 


Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park

Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park provides a breather from the hectic buzz of central Osaka with its spacious grounds that once served as the site of a flower exhibition in 1990. The park is especially stunning in spring, with tulips growing in its Dutch-inspired garden and hundreds of cherry blossoms blooming across the area. Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park is also home to Sakuya Konohana Kan, a botanical garden within one of the world’s largest greenhouses. 


Address: 2-163 Ryokuchikoen, Tsurumi Ward, Osaka, 538-0036

How to get there: Make your way to Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi line. The exit is connected to the park. 

Tickets: You can visit Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park free of charge. 

Operating hours: The park is open 24/7. 


Maruyama Park

Located within the touristy Gion district and right behind Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park is arguably Kyoto’s most sought-after sites for hanami parties. Come sakura season, food stalls and mini restaurants dot the vicinity, so visitors can enjoy local fare under sakura trees. Parties go on until after dark, when the park’s centerpiece, an imposing weeping cherry tree, is lit up. 


Address: Maruyamacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0071

How to get there: Take bus number 206 and hop off at Gion bus stop. Walk towards the park from Yasaka Shrine. 

Tickets: You can visit Maruyama Park 24/7. 

Operating hours: Maruyama Park is open 24/7. 


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***Featured image by Yux Xiang on Unsplash