When pink clouds of cherry blossoms, or sakura (as they’re known in Japan), start blooming, that’s a sure sign that spring has officially arrived. It’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it natural wonders, which makes it all the more magical when you do catch a glimpse of these pastel beauties.
But Japan isn’t the only place to see cherry blossoms (despite how it might seem on this blog). While the Japanese cherry blossom is probably the most well-known, given that Japan puts a huge emphasis on the blossoms for their symbol of the fleeting nature of life, you can view the beautiful cherry blossom trees in dozens of countries around the world.
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When is cherry blossom season?
It’s hard to say exactly when cherry blossoms will bloom given all of the locations that are home to cherry blossom trees. Even in a specific location, it’s not a given when the trees will blossom each year. But typically cherry trees bloom in spring between March and April in the Northern Hemisphere and September and October in the Southern Hemisphere.
Why is cherry blossom season so important in Japan?
Before we get into the list, I wanted to touch on the importance of the sakura in Japan because a good number of the locations on this list have their cherry blossom trees because they were gifted them by Japan or a city in Japan. So because that’s such a common thread it might be helpful to know why Japan wants to share their beloved tree with the rest of the world.
Viewing cherry blossoms has been a national pastime since the 8th century. There are many species of cherry, some of which have been cultivated through cross-breeding. These efforts took off in the 14th century when they became cultivated as ornamental flowers.
But why is Japan so fascinated with the sakura phenomenon since centuries ago? Cherry blossom trees have many meanings to the Japanese. A lot has to do with the very brief life of the flowers, blooming only for about a week to ten days.
Their fleeting beauty illustrates all too perfectly that nothing in this world is permanent, everything passes away at some point. A sad but beautiful admiration for this impermanence has been an important part of the Japanese mindset since ancient times. In Japanese, it’s called “mono no aware.” This mindset can be found in the smallest things of Japanese daily life.
Where to See Cherry Blossoms
So, I had to start with Japan. Because I’m based in Japan, and maybe a little biased, I think Japan is the best place to see cherry blossoms not just because the trees are beautiful, but because the cherry blossom is so engrained in the culture. Cherry blossom season in Japan usually begins mid to end of March and lasts until early April. But you can’t go anywhere from February to April without seeing a cherry blossom display of cosmetics, stationery, coffee, mugs, clothes, home goods, and more or sakura flavored food, and snacks.
One of the best things to do in Japan during cherry blossom season is “hanami,” a picnic under the sakura trees to view the blossoms, reflect on life, and spend time with family and friends. Be sure to check out our list Here, to see exactly where to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo because there are many.
Read More: best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan.
Portland, Oregon has a few wonderful places to view cherry blossoms each spring: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the Portland Japanese Garden. And the Japanese American Historical Plaza
Tom McCall Waterfront Park sits on the edge of the Japanese American Historical Plaza, built in 1990 to honor those forced to endure Japanese internment camps during World War II. The 100 cherry trees planted in the park are a striking spring attraction, but visitors are also encouraged to explore the rest of the Plaza, which is dotted with poems about the Japanese American experience.
At the Portland Japanese Garden, visitors also get a chance to experience Japanese culture alongside a handful of cherry trees, each artfully arranged throughout the space to create carefully considered views—a key characteristic in traditional Japanese gardens. Reservations for timed entry are recommended and tickets cost $13–$19 per person (children under six enter for free). Just make sure to leave time for tea and mochi at the garden’s Umami Café or one of many cultural offerings, such as koto (Japanese harp) performances or ikebana (flower arrangement) demonstrations.
The trees located in the Japanese American Historical Plaza are relative newcomers to the city. The plaza was dedicated in 1990 to remember the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Thirty years later, the park turns pink every spring with cherry blossoms. Don’t miss the famous works by Japanese-American poets engraved in 12 granite stones throughout the park.
Come springtime in Dallas, horticulture enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the bloom festivities at the Dallas Arboretum.
When the trees are in full bloom, visitors can enjoy them by walking or sitting among its equally impressive tulip displays. The Arboretum’s “Dallas Blooms” festival, running from February 26 to April 15, 2023, also coincides with the cherry blossoms. With a roster of activities and events that changes each day, visitors can also enjoy live concerts, wine, and beer at the same time.
If you’re in Paris while the cherry trees are blooming, we suggest you go for a treasure hunt! Inside the central courtyard at the Petit Palais is a hidden gem to enjoy the blooms. One of the superior locations in all of Paris is found in front of the south facade of the Notre Dame.
The Square Gabriel Pierné is home to one of the most remarkable trees in France. This tiny square is often overlooked, but if you find it, you will discover what feels like a fireworks show of blooms inside!
At the Jardin des Plantes be on the look out for the Prunus Shirotae tree which means ‘snow white’. This tree also goes by the name “Mount Fuji” and is believed to be the largest tree in Paris!
One of the best places for an early morning Eiffel Tower photo shoot year-round just so happens to be a prime spot for cherry blossoms in Paris. The wide walkways of Trocadéro serve up prime Eiffel Tower views, and come mid-March to late April, this location bursts to life with cherry blossoms—how’s that for an added bonus? Be sure to set your alarm for “Bright and Early” as these Parisian views are about as hot as French espresso.
No list about cherry blossoms around the world would be complete without a mention of Washington, D.C. In fact, they’re probably the most famous place to see cherry blossoms in the USA. In 1912, the mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 trees to the District as a symbol of Japanese American friendship.
A visit to the National Mall while the flowers are in bloom is the most popular way to experience them. However, locals who think the national park is old hat will visit in the evening after the crowds have gone, or stroll through Dumbarton Oaks, a beautiful (and relatively tourist-free) historic estate in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Some say the best place to see cherry blossoms in DC is the Tidal Basin. The beautiful and delicate cherry blossoms among the monuments and memorials around the Tidal Basin make this location special. See the Jefferson Memorial, MLK Memorial, and FDR Memorial.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival occurs every spring during peak bloom. For 2023 it will be held from March 20- April 16. The festival includes a charity run, parade, Japanese street festival, and dinner party.
When most people think of Amsterdam they probably think of tulips over cherry blossoms. But Amsterdam boasts a good number of cherry trees that envelop the city in beautiful pink petals for a few weeks each spring. Each year Amsterdam ushers in the cherry blossoms with the Japanese Sakura celebration. This annual cherry blossom festival attracts people from all over who break for picnics under the flowering trees. The festival also has tents set up to enjoy traditional Japanese food and drinks. When in town, don’t forget to visit the Anne Frank House or the Van Gogh Museum, among other must-visit sites in this great city. Check out this 3 day Amsterdam Itinerary to hit all the best spots.
See Also: Best Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan
New York City, New York
Each spring cherry blossom trees give New York a beautiful pop of color. Many New Yorkers flock to see the trees during their short lifespan. The most popular attraction in NYC each spring is the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. During the festival, visitors can stroll among rows of over 200 blossoming trees at the enclosed Japanese Hill-and-Pond garden or the aptly-named Cherry Walk, a meandering path lined with Prunus “Kanzan” cherry trees, a spectacular variety with fuller than normal flowers.
But Brooklyn isn’t the only place that boasts cherry blossoms. You can also find cherry blossoms in Central Park between 72nd Street and 96th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Randalls Island Park, Roosevelt Island, Riverside Park, and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
Vancouver boasts over 40,000 cherry trees across the city and the entire place come alive in the spring. The VanDusen Botanical Garden houses the city’s original 500 trees that were gifted in the 1930s by the mayors of Kobe and Yokohama.
You can also spend an amazing day amongst the trees at the Queen Elizabeth Park and Stanley Park (Vancouver’s first park). Love a party? Don’t miss the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival that lasts several weeks.
Since 1962, Seattle locals have known that spring at the University of Washington is synonymous with one thing: cherry blossoms. The dozens of trees that line UW’s central quad look so ethereal that stressed-out students, harried professors, and those simply passing by can’t help but stop and stare when the flowers are in bloom. In fact, the highly anticipated cherry blossoms even have their own Twitter account. The trees were donated to the city by Japan in 1939, and the country donated an additional 18 trees to the UW campus.
Philly turns into a magnificently pink city come springtime, when its thousands upon thousands of cherry trees come into full bloom. The beautiful Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park is the pinnacle of the sakura display, but many other cherry blossom viewing spots in the city don’t require an entrance fee. We love the rows of pink trees behind the Please Touch Museum in West Fairmount Park and the stretch of Kelly Drive behind Boathouse Row.
There aren’t many places in Boston to see cherry blossoms, but cherry blossom season along the Charles River Esplanade in Back Bay is truly spectacular. This three-mile stretch of green space offers more than five miles of walking and biking trails among the blooming cherry trees leading up to the historic Hatch Shell amphitheater. In normal times, onigri, and yukatas are staples of the local cherry blossom and Japanese cultural festivals in Boston. If the weather is warm enough, onlookers can float down the river in a kayak or paddle up close for a view from the water.
The India Cherry Blossom Festival in Meghalya, India is the first international cherry blossom festival in the world that is celebrated in autumn, usually in October of November. Other city locations for cherry-blossom walks are the sericulture farm (Lawsohtun), 101 Area, Seng Khasi College, Lawmali, Pine Walk Cantonment, Shillong, and the entire East Khasi Hills.
See Also: Best Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan
Over 200 cherry trees were planted in Langelinie Park, and since 2008, a committee has organized the two-day Sakura Festival! It’s free to get in and there’s bound to be something of interest for almost everyone. Be sure to check out what’s happening on the Main Stage, Second Stage, and even the lawn. In previous years, there have been several types of martial arts demonstrations, karaoke, and even tea ceremonies!
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In Bonn, Germany there is a creative quarter of the city called Altstadt cherry trees line the narrow streets, creating a tunnel of pink when they are in bloom. It’s one of the most beautiful tree tunnels in the world! The city celebrates these trees with an open-air festival in late April with live music and lots of food!
There are over 12,000 cherry trees and over 60 varieties in Gucun Park, which has the largest cherry tree collection in Shanghai. In 2016, over 100,000 people attended the festival here.
Jinhae, South Korea
The port city of Jinhae is known for its cherry tree-lined Yeojwacheon Stream, along with many parks in the city that host cherry blossom gardens. Each year, the city holds the Jinhaw Gunhangje Festival, the largest spring festival in Korea. Thousands of Koreans and tourists visit the festival to admire the blossoms and enjoy the art installations, fireworks, and parades that accompany the blooming trees.
The bus ride from Seoul to Jinhae is about four hours, but if you go, you can expect a beautiful display of pink cherry tree blossoms and lots of local Korean food and culture.
In the early 20th century, thousnands of Japanese immigrated to Brazil, which today has the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan. The cherry blossom came along with them. The best place to see pink cherry blossoms in the city are the Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botânico). You can also find them at the Praça do Japão (Japanese Garden). The cherry blossom season in Brazil is usually in July so make sure you keep an eye on the weather and forecast to avoid missing them.
St. Louis, Missouri
The Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis contains more than 100 varieties of cherry blossom trees including 20 which are cuttings from the original trees gifted to Washington, D.C. by the Japanese government. Stroll through the Japanese Garden to see the original trees, then head to the George Washington Carver Garden to see other specimens like the Mount Fuji cherry.
Traverse City, Michigan
Because Michigan is the capital of all things “cherry,” it’s only natural that the fruit-bearing trees put on a spectacular spring show throughout the state, generally around mid-May each year. There are some scenic drives, like Highway M-37 by Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, which takes visitors through roughly 2 million cherry trees. Although you can’t walk in the orchards, the bikeable, 17-mile Leelanau Trail, which includes several sections that go by cherry trees, is perfect for those who prefer to view the blooms at a slower pace.
CherryHill Orchard in the beautiful Yarra Valley, holds a Blossom Festival each spring. This year it is on from 26 September to 6 October, where there will be live music, cherry- based drinks and food trucks (with famous cherry ice-cream!), making it a great day out. Melbourne cherry blossom trees can also be found in the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens (formerly the National Rhododendron Gardens). The gardens are located in Olinda, about an hour drive from Melbourne.
Read Also: Where to See Night Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
This post rounds up the best cherry blossom locations in the world. As you may notice, many of these sakura trees originated in Japan. Japanese cherry blossoms have found their way to many corners of the world and while I would urge you to visit any cherry blossom location you can, you can’t argue that the best cherry blossom in the world are definitely found in Japan. If you want to plan your trip to Japan in spring for cherry blossom season, check out my posts Here, or search this site for more on Japan.
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