People in Japan cast their vote for their favourite hanami spot and the places where they most want to see sakura before they die.

Every year, as Japan’s cherry blossom season approaches, people around the country turn their thoughts towards hanami flower-viewing picnics and the dream places where they’d like to see the sakura in bloom.

This year, Japanese travel site Airtrip asked 772 people, ranging in age from their teens to their 70s, to answer two pressing cherry blossom questions. Firstly, they asked respondents to reveal the best hanami spots they’ve been to so far, and these were the top 10 responses.

10. Goryōkkaku (Hokkaido)

The Goryokaku Star Fort in Hakodate was built in 1855 by the Tokugawa shogunate to protect the Tsugaru Strait against a possible invasion by the Russian fleet and today it’s a stunning spot to view the cherry blossoms.

9. Osaka Mint Bureau (Osaka)

The Osaka Mint Bureau is the head office of Japan Mint, a governmental agency that supplies coins to the Japanese market. While the Mint Museum is open to the public year-round, for one week in April the Mint Bureau opens their cherry garden to the public, with crowds of people coming to view more than 300 cherry blossom trees, which are mostly the later-blooming yae-zakura variety.

8. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo)

Shinjuku Gyoen is an expansive park in the middle of downtown Tokyo with over a thousand sakura trees, and more than a dozen different varieties. The spacious lawns and early and late blooming sakura varieties make Shinjuku Gyoen a great spot for a hanami picnic throughout the blossoming season.

7. Meguro River (Tokyo)

Despite being a concrete canal, Meguro River is an incredibly popular sakura spot, with over 800 cherry blossom trees lining the length of the river for several hundred metres. The festival stalls and evening light-up gives this area a lively hanami atmosphere.

6. Takato-Joshi Koen (Nagano)

Takato-Joshi Koen (Takato Castle Ruins Park) in Ina City, Nagano, is famous for being known as one of the three best locations to see cherry blossoms in Japan. With 1,500 sakura trees and nighttime illuminations, this is one of the most beautiful – and most crowded – spots to enjoy a hanami picnic in the country.

5. Ueno Park (Tokyo)

Ueno Park is a popular place to sit under the trees in the middle of Tokyo, with more than a thousand trees in the park and along the street leading to Shinobazu Pond, where you can enjoy a boat ride amongst the blossoms.

4. Kawazu (Shizuoka)

Kawazu kicks off the country’s cherry blossom festivities every February with an early-blooming variety that was first discovered in Kawazu in the 1950s. Accessible on a day trip from Tokyo, the festival draws a crowd of approximately two million every year, who come to see the pink-coloured blossoms in a peaceful riverside setting.

3. Mount Yoshino (Nara)

Mount Yoshino has been a famous cherry blossom viewing spot for centuries. With the first trees said to be planted here more than 1,300 years ago, the mountain is now covered with approximately 30,000 cherry trees of many different varieties.

2. Hirosaki Park (Aomori)

Considered one of the top three spots in Japan to see the cherry blossoms at night, there are many beautiful sights around the park but the view from the arched bridge is absolutely breathtaking. Looking at the scene from here is like looking at a dragon eating its tail, and the reflections of the sakura look like branches of coral underneath the water.

1.  Chidorigafuchi (Tokyo)

Tokyo’s Chidorigafuchi moat was constructed around the Imperial Palace centuries ago, in the early Edo period (1603-1868) when the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan. Today it’s one of the most picturesque places in Tokyo to view the sakura cherry blossoms, either from the banks of the moat or from inside it on a rowboat or pedal-boat.

Now that we’ve heard from the respondents about their top ten hanami spots, it’s time to press them for another top ten, and this time it’s: The hanami spot I most want to visit before I die.

10. Usuzumi Zakura (Gifu)

Usuzumi Zakura is one of Japan’s oldest cherry blossom trees, located not far from the city of Gifu, in Neodani Valley in Neo Village, Motosu. Said to be approximately 1,500 years old, this sakura tree is said to have been planted by Emperor Keitai in the sixth century.

9. Kakunodate (Akita)

Kakunodate is famous for its weeping sakura, which cascade over traditional residences in the old samurai town.

8. Osaka Mint Bureau (Osaka) 

Making another appearance in the survey is the Osaka Mint Bureau, with its short week-only viewing period making it a sought-after destination.

7. Takato-Joshi Koen (Nagano) 

Takato-Joshi Koen also makes another appearance, and with photos this stunning, it’s easy to see why.

6. Miharu Takizakura (Fukushima)

Miharu Takizakura, which literally translates to “waterfall cherry tree of Miharu”, is an ancient sakura tree in Miharu that’s more than 1,000 years old. The weeping tree is classified as one of the five great cherry trees of Japan, and one of the three giant cherry trees of Japan. Designated a national treasure in 1922, the tree blooms with light pink flowers spreading out in all directions, like a waterfall.

5. Goryōkaku (Hokkaido)

Goryokaku once again proves to be popular, and with good reason. The unusual raised fort construction provides walkways on different levels, creating an all-encompassing view that makes you feel like you’re walking on clouds of cherry blossoms.

4. Kyoto

Surprisingly, no one spot in Kyoto is specified in this response; instead people dream of viewing the blossoms against the ancient city’s backdrop of traditional shrines, temples and tenement houses. And they probably dream of enjoying it without the hordes of tourists too.

3. Washington D.C. (U.S.A)

Another surprising entry on the list shows people have an interest in viewing the cherry blossoms outside of Japan, in Washington, where the cherry blossoms bloom around the Tidal Basin, the Washington Monument, and in East Potomac Park. In 1912, over 3,000 sakura were sent to the United States as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan, so a visit to see these special trees in bloom is a top dream destination for a number of Japanese people.

2. Mount Yoshino (Nara)

Once again, Mount Yoshino is popular, with people dreaming of ascending the slopes under a sea of cherry blossoms.

1. Hirosaki Park (Aomori)

Hirosaki Park takes top place on this list, and it’s well deserved. The expansive grounds provide you with a number of picturesque hanami spots, which come with a beautiful castle backdrop and moats that fill with fallen sakura petals, creating gorgeous cherry blossom carpets that draw crowds of visitors to Aomori year after year.

So there you have it – the top 10 best hanami spots in Japan and the top 10 hanami spots people wish to visit before they die. How many have you been to on the list? Let us know in the comments below, and if you’re looking for more recommended cherry blossom destinations, head on over here to view 45 more spots around Japan, from Hokkaido all the way down to Kyushu!

Featured image: © SoraNews24  
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