If you’ve missed the sakura season in other parts of Japan, don’t worry – Hokkaido’s sakura season is just getting started.
With cooler temperatures, the northernmost island of Japan blooms slightly later than the rest of the country, offering a second chance for visitors to experience the beauty of cherry blossoms.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to eight cities in Hokkaido, highlighting their sakura history, best viewing spots, crowd levels, recommended hotels, and transportation options.
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First bloom: 4/16, Full blossom: 4/20
Hakodate, one of Hokkaido’s most famous cities, has a rich sakura history dating back to the late 1800s. The best location for cherry blossom viewing is Goryokaku Park, where you can find over 1,600 cherry trees.
The park can get crowded during sakura season, so arrive early to secure a spot. The La Jolie Motomachi offers beautiful views of the city and easy access to Goryokaku Park. To reach Hakodate, take a flight or ride the shinkansen from Tokyo, or take a train from Sapporo.
First bloom: 4/17, Full blossom: 4/21
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture. The city’s most popular spot for cherry blossom viewing is Maruyama Park, located near the Hokkaido Shrine.
While the area can get crowded, the park is spacious enough to accommodate visitors. For a more peaceful experience, visit Moerenuma Park or Nakajima Park.
Stay at the JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo for easy access to transportation and the city center. To get to Sapporo, take a direct flight or ride the shinkansen from Tokyo.
First bloom: 4/21, Full blossom: 4/23
Obihiro’s sakura season is steeped in history, dating back over a century. The best place to view cherry blossoms in Obihiro is Midorigaoka Park, a spacious area with various cherry tree species.
While crowds can be moderate, arriving early ensures a prime viewing spot. The Richmond Hotel Obihiro Ekimae offers convenient access to the park and Obihiro Station. To reach Obihiro, take a flight or train from Sapporo.
First bloom: 4/21, Full blossom: 4/27
Muroran is a coastal city in Hokkaido. The most popular spot for cherry blossom viewing is Chuo Park, which boasts a stunning view of the ocean. While the area can get crowded, the park is spacious enough to enjoy the scenery.
Stay at the Hotel Route-Inn Muroran for a comfortable experience and easy access to the park. To get to Muroran, take a train from Sapporo or Hakodate.
First bloom: 4/24, Full blossom: 4/27
In Asahikawa, the most famous location for cherry blossom viewing is Tokiwa Park, known for its picturesque scenery and calm atmosphere. Crowds are moderate during sakura season, so arrive early to secure a prime spot.
The Asahikawa Toyo Hotel offers comfortable accommodations and easy access to the park. To get to Asahikawa, take a flight or train from Sapporo.
First bloom: 4/28, Full blossom: 5/1
Abashiri’s sakura season is enriched by the city’s deep connection to cherry blossoms, which began in the early 1900s. The best location for viewing sakura is the Higashimokoto Shibazakura Park, where you can find various species of cherry trees.
Crowds are minimal, making it a peaceful destination. Stay at the Dormy Inn Abashiri for a convenient location and comfortable rooms. To reach Abashiri, take a train or bus from Sapporo or Asahikawa.
First bloom: 5/1, Full blossom: 5/4
Wakkanai, the northernmost city in Japan, offers a later sakura season. The serene city has a long history of cherry blossoms, with the best viewing spot at Cape Noshappu.
Although not as crowded as other cities, early arrival is recommended. The Dormy Inn Wakkanai is a popular hotel choice, featuring comfortable rooms and an on-site hot spring. To reach Wakkanai, take a flight or train from Sapporo.
First bloom: 5/2, Full blossom: 5/5
Kushiro’s sakura season could be your last chance for the 2023 season in Japan. Its sakura history can be traced back to the early 20th century. The top spot for cherry blossom viewing is Nusamai Bridge, which offers a beautiful view of the Kushiro River.
The La Vista Kushirogawa is a highly-rated hotel near the river. To get to Kushiro, take a flight or train from Sapporo.
Final Thoughts: Making the Most of Hokkaido’s Unique Cherry Blossom Season
Don’t let missing the sakura season in other parts of Japan get you down – Hokkaido’s cherry blossoms offer a second chance to experience the breathtaking beauty of this time-honored tradition. With options for every traveler, Hokkaido’s cities provide unique opportunities to immerse yourself in the stunning sakura season.
Hokkaido’s Cherry Blossom Season FAQs
When is the best time to visit Hokkaido for cherry blossoms?
The cherry blossom season in Hokkaido generally starts in mid-April and lasts until early May. However, the exact timing varies depending on the city and weather conditions each year. Keep an eye on cherry blossom forecasts to plan your trip accordingly.
Are there any specific cherry blossom festivals in Hokkaido?
Yes, there are several cherry blossom festivals in Hokkaido, such as the Hakodate Goryokaku Cherry Blossom Festival and the Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival. These events feature food stalls, entertainment, and illuminated cherry trees, providing a festive atmosphere for visitors.
Can I enjoy hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) in Hokkaido parks?
Absolutely! Hanami is a popular activity during sakura season throughout Japan, including Hokkaido. Many parks in Hokkaido offer ideal settings for picnics under the cherry blossoms. Just remember to follow local customs and clean up after yourself.
How does Hokkaido’s cherry blossom season differ from the rest of Japan?
Hokkaido’s cherry blossom season typically occurs later than the rest of Japan due to its cooler climate. This provides a second chance for visitors who missed the sakura season in other parts of the country. Additionally, Hokkaido’s vast landscapes and natural beauty create a unique backdrop for cherry blossom viewing.
Are there any special cherry blossom varieties unique to Hokkaido?
While Hokkaido is home to the popular Somei Yoshino cherry trees found throughout Japan, it also features unique local varieties such as the Ezoyamazakura and Jindai Akebono. These trees offer a distinctive experience for visitors interested in exploring the diverse world of cherry blossoms.