With the peak of winter now over, the stage is set for new beginnings as Japan eases into spring, and cherry blossoms start to bloom across the country. The traditional custom of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) has become so popular in Japan in recent years, that the meteorological office has a service dedicated to forecasting the first blooms, and there are daily reports on the best spots to visit, and the various festivals held in their honour.
Perhaps lesser known for its cherry blossom season, but equally as glorious, Taiwan enjoys a similar Sakura season.
With so many areas to choose from, leading Japan-based hotel group Hoshino Resorts shares its top cherry blossom experiences for 2023:
The ancient capital of Japan is the epicentre of sakura season, with blossoms appearing from the end of March to early April.
Located in a valley just a short distance from the famous Togetsukyo Brige, HOSHINOYA Kyoto – a luxurious riverside ryokan hotel – is the perfect base for those looking to explore one of Japan’s top cherry blossom viewing sites. From 25 March to 9 April 2023, guests of the hotel can view the weeping cherry blossoms from the privacy of the hotels Hanazakura Terrace – a dedicated cherry blossom platform, designed for guests to relax and enjoy the beauty of the blossoms, with a delicious seasonal drink during the day or a special Korin meal in the evening.
Guests may also book a trip aboard ‘Hisui’ (meaning Jade in Japanese), an elegant houseboat which travels along the Oi River, directly in front of HOSHINOYA Kyoto, to view the cherry blossoms in the soft light of dawn. The steep slopes of the gorge are covered in approximately 1500 cherry trees, including Someiyoshino and Yamazakura varieties, providing a spectacular view.
Rates at HOSHINOYA Kyoto start from 136,000 JPY / approx. £856 per room per night (room only).
There’s no shortage of cherry blossoms in Tokyo. One of the most popular spots is Ueno Park, home to 1,000 cherry blossoms, as well as museums, shrines and ponds.
HOSHINOYA Tokyo in Otemachi is one of the city’s most iconic hotels and its first luxury traditional ryokan inn. From 25 March to 10 April 2023, the hotel’s ‘Hanami Cruise’ will be available to guests to experience a spectacular view of cherry blossoms by boat in the balmy spring weather. Take in the rows of cherry trees that adorn both banks of the Oyoko River and along the way, enjoy hanami boxed lunches with seasonal fermented foods that combine the blessings of the sea and mountains. Guests can relax and enjoy the journey, while listening to shamisen music performed by local school students.
Rates at HOSHINOYA Tokyo start from 112,000 JPY / approx. £705 per room per night (room only).
On both banks of the Tamayu River, which flows through the centre of Tamatsukuri Hot Spring, approximately 400 cherry trees bloom in unison in spring over a 2km stretch of the riverbank, filling the spa town with vibrant colour. After sunset, the cherry blossoms are illuminated, creating a magical blossom viewing experience.
At KAI Tamatsukuri – a hot spring ryokan with a focus on the local Shimane culture and food – guests can enjoy a ride in the hotel’s “Night Cherry Blossom Tour Rickshaw” from 1 April to 7 April 2023 to view the illuminated cherry blossoms from the comfort of their own private rickshaw.
Rates at KAI Tamatsukuri start from 82,000 JPY / approx. £516 per room per night (including breakfast and dinner).
The Nagato Yumoto Hot Springs area is lined with vibrant cherry trees, attracting many visitors during the cherry blossom season from late March to early April.
Nestled in the mountains of northern Yamaguchi Prefecture and at Nagato-Yumoto Hot Spring, KAI Nagato – a hot spring ryokan in the style of 17th century accommodation for Japanese feudal lords – will hold Yozakura Kawadoko Hanami (Night Cherry Blossom Viewing) from 26 March 2023, where guests can view the blossoms from the private Kawadoko Terrace. Hammocks, cushions and tables are set up to enhance the night cherry viewing experience, with space reserved for only two groups per day.
Rates at KAI Nagato start from 64,000 JPY / approx. £403 per room per night (including breakfast and dinner).
As an alternative to the typical cherry blossom experience in Japan, the Guguan region of Taiwan, near the city of Taichung, is a scenic mountainous hot spring valley graced with stunning displays of cherry blossoms in the spring. Particularly scenic areas to enjoy the seasonal splendour in Guguan include Longgu (Dragon Valley), a winding mountain trail with a backdrop of cherry blossom trees and cascading waterfalls.
HOSHINOYA Guguan – a luxurious hot spring hotel built into the valley and surrounded by mythical bamboo forest and murmuring streams – is an idyllic base to explore the area, with magical continually-fed hot spring baths in every room, from which to view the colourful blooms.
Rates at HOSHINOYA Guguan start from 21,000 TWD / approx. £578 per room per night (room only).