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5 Quiet Spots to Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms in Kansai

Want to avoid the crowds this sakura season? Check out these five spots to enjoy the cherry blossoms in peace!

By 4 min read

March is here, and it’s officially Spring in Japan, which can only mean the sakura (cherry blossoms) season is fast approaching. Hanami, or flower viewing in English, is when almost everyone in the country flocks to their nearest source of sakura to witness the blooming of the season’s flowers.

Most will take this opportunity to also have a picnic complete with all-day drinking. However, this means that the crowds will be out in force. So to help you pick the perfect spot for your first hanami of the year while avoiding the crowds, here are five unique spots to let you enjoy the cherry blossoms in peace.

Sumaura Park (Kobe)

Suma, a suburb in west Kobe is famous for its beach, which becomes a hotspot for drinking, sports and partying almost as soon as March starts. However, for hanami purposes, Sumaura park, close by to the beach and next to a ropeway with a great view of Osaka Bay, is where you’ll want to go when the sakura starts to bloom. You can even get a bird’s eye view via a ropeway!

Accessible easily from Sumaurakoen station, Sumaura is a quiet local park covered with sakura trees. The park’s fountain land, plum garden and rose garden are perfect spots to set up camp beneath the blossoms, crack open a cold beer and enjoy the spring weather. Furthermore, suppose you do a little preparation at a supermarket beforehand. In that case, you can use Sumaura’s bbq area to make your flower picnic into a barbecue.

  • Address: 4 Chome-4-3 Ichinotanicho, Suma Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 654-0076
  • Nearest train station: Sumaurakoen station

Ono Sakura Corridor (Hyogo)

Photo:
Walk under a shade of cherry blossom trees.

Ono is the most out-of-the-way location on this list, a small country town on Kobe’s far-flung northwestern marches. Reaching Ono from Kobe’s Sannomiya station takes about 75 minutes and requires changing onto a remote local line. However, the effort is well worth it, as picnickers can relax by the Kakogawa River and delight in the 650 sakura trees planted by its banks.

What makes the Ono sakura corridor even more impressive is that each tree has been planted in a staggered pattern, which creates a ripple effect as the trees blossom one by one. Furthermore, thanks to the foresight of this arrangement, the Sakura corridor remains mostly in bloom until late April, making it the perfect location for the last hanami of Spring. Truly parting is such sweet sorrow.

  • Address: Suminagacho, Ono, Hyogo 675-1368
  • Nearest station: Ao station

Kishiwada Castle (Osaka)

Facing Osaka Bay and built on the Kishu Kaido, the old path to Kyoto, Kishiwada Castle has been a formidable seat of power and military force for most of its history. However, in modern Japan, Kishiwada Castle is often overlooked in favor of Osaka Castle, which means it is substantially less crowded during the sakura season.

Designated as a national place of scenic beauty for its gardens and roughly 170 cherry blossom trees, Kishiwada is a perfect picnic destination. While it is about an hour from Osaka station, I’d strongly urge you to journey down to Osaka’s forgotten castle.

  • Address: 9-1 Kishikicho, Kishiwada, Osaka 596-0073
  • Nearest station: Kishiwada station

Mii Dera (Shiga)

Photo:
Cherry blossoms at night.

Just northwest of Otsu City on the southern shore of Lake Biwa is a temple that has been burned to the ground several times, only to be rebuilt by its faithful, leading to it being referred to it colloquially amongst locals as the Phoenix Temple, it’s actually name is the Mii Dera. The Mii Dera is one of Kansai’s most spiritual places where you can enjoy a hanami. The main temple and its three sub-temples are surrounded by well-cared-for gardens and park spaces, perfect for spreading the picnic blanket and relaxing.

While there is a small entrance fee of ¥1,000, this location is ideal if you’re looking to enjoy a hanami where you can watch the sunset over Lake Biwa. Furthermore, from March 24th until April 9th, the temple remains open until 9:30 at night so visitors can continue their hanami thanks to the illuminations that the temple organizes. If you don’t feel like carrying all your hanami gear, there is a cafe within the temple grounds where guests can enjoy specialty mochi and green tea.

  • Address: 246 Onjojicho, Otsu, Shiga 520-0036
  • Nearest station: Miidera station
  • Illumination view: March 24 – April 9 (18:00-21:30)

Azuchi Castle Ruins (Shiga)

Azuchi Castle, built originally in 1576, was constructed by Oda Nobunaga to protect the northern approaches to Kyoto during his campaigns. While the castle has long since fallen into ruin, its high stone walls and grounds have become home to a garrison of vibrant cherry blossom trees. The sakura trees grow freely atop the broad battlements, creating many gorgeous spots beneath their canopies that also command impressive countryside views and lake Biwa, leaving visitors much to admire.

  • Address: Azuchicho Shimotoira, Shiga 521-1311
  • Nearest station: Azuchi station

What’s your favorite park to enjoy a hanami? Have we missed any must-see Kansai cherry blossoms? Let us know below!

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