The ultimate guide to enjoying sakura season in Osaka
From verdant parks to riverside promenades, here are some of the best places in Osaka for hanami.
- January 2020
Cherry blossom season is an annual highlight on the Japanese calendar. In Osaka, the sakura typically burst into bloom around mid-March, shrouding the city’s streets, parks and promenades in various shades of pink. Here are some of the best spots in the city for hanami (literally “flower viewing”).
Best cherry blossom spots
For panoramic views: Mount Yoshino
For a different perspective, head up the UNESCO-listed Mount Yoshino in nearby Nara Prefecture, which is carpeted by around 30,000 flowering cherry trees every spring. The best views can be enjoyed from the Naka Senbon (middle area) and Kami Senbon (upper area) sections of the mountain, with cherry blossoms stretching as far as the eye can see. In particular, we’d recommend the Hanayagura viewpoint, which is around an hour’s walk from the upper ropeway station.
Address: Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara
For night-time displays: Expo ’70 Commemorative Park
You can enjoy hanami after dark too. Simply head to Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, a sprawling public park around 30 minutes north of the city centre. It holds a sakura festival every year, during which its visiting hours are extended until 9pm daily. Here, visitors can enjoy the ethereal sight of over 5,500 cherry trees being illuminated by various lights.
Address: 1-1 Senribanpakukoen, Suita
For an escape from the masses: Daisen Park
Don’t feel like jostling with the crowds? Check out Daisen Park instead, which is a tranquil green space amid the famed Mozu tombs. Here, you’ll find a pretty lake fringed by around 400 cherry trees, making for some seriously postcard-perfect views. The rest of the park is home to numerous weeping cherry trees, which are characterised by sakura-lined branches that cascade in dramatic fashion.
Address: 2 Chome-204 Mozusekiuncho, Sakai-ku
For that classic shot: Osaka Castle Park
You’ve seen the photos: majestic Osaka Castle framed by sakura branches or towering above a row of cherry trees. Indeed, Osaka Castle Park is one of the most popular places in the city for hanami, with over 4,000 cherry trees dotting its expansive grounds. Pack a picnic and head to Nishinomaru Garden on the western side of the park, where you stretch out beneath the blossoms.
Address: 1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku
What to eat during cherry blossom season
Every hanami picnic should feature a hanami bento: a lunch box comprising predominantly pink, red and orange foods to celebrate the colours of spring. These might include brightly hued ingredients like shrimp, salmon and carrots, all meticulously arranged on a bed of rice. You can purchase hanami bentos from major department stores.
A popular dessert during cherry blossom season, sakura mochi is a pink rice cake filled with red bean paste and wrapped in a pickled sakura leaf. You’ll find it in most wagashi (traditional Japanese confection) shops across Japan.
Sakura matcha KitKat
Did you know that there are over 200 KitKat variants in the world? These include sakura matcha, which marries the subtle floral flavour of sakura with the earthiness of green tea. It is typically only sold during springtime at souvenir shops and specialty stores.
Springtime brings warmer waters – and with them, asari clams. Despite their diminutive size, these bottleneck clams are chock-full of flavour. They are often added to miso soup, or steamed with sake to be enjoyed on their own.