Follow the Cherry Blossom Trail
Almost every area of Japan boasts must-see blossoms, but by using your smartphone you can discover personal sakura sanctuaries not found in guidebooks. Prepaid SIM cards make it easy to stay connected on Japan’s high quality cell networks. Time to take some photos!
The Japanese archipelago stretches from south to north. As winter turns to spring, temperatures rise from the southern regions of Okinawa and Kyushu to the northern lands of Tohoku and Hokkaido, and sakura bloom like a carpet rolling northward.
Let’s visit some key locations along the cherry blossom trail.
In sub-tropical Okinawa, you won’t find the common “Someiyoshino” variety of cherry blossom. Instead, the deeper pink flowers of the Taiwan Cherry tree bloom from the end of January to February.
There are plenty of Someiyoshino trees in southern Kyushu’s Kagoshima Prefecture. In mid-March, don’t miss the stunning combination of the bloom in the Sengan-en Japanese gardens set against the backdrop of Sakurajima volcano.
Late March sees World Heritage site Himeji Castle enveloped in the pink of over 1000 Someiyoshino and Shidarezakura (weeping cherry) trees. The combo of Himeji’s majesty and the sakura offer frame-worthy photos!
Kyoto has loads of sakura spots. From late March to early April, the Ryoanji Zen Rock Garden contrasts with the deeper pink of the Shidarezakura. Share your zen moment!
Nagano Prefecture’s Takato Joshi Park is one of the best places in the country to get your spring cherry blossom fix. Gaze up from the pond and you’ll get a heart-shaped surprise in the sakura blossoms above. You’ll be flooded with instagram “likes”.
Looking for something bigger? In mid-April check out Fukushima’s massive, 1000-year old Benishidarezakura (Miharutakizakura). In neighbouring Yamagata Prefecture there is the equally huge Yamataka-jindaizakura. Gifu Prefecture’s Neodani-usuzumizakura rounds out the top three largest cherry blossom trees in Japan.
How about shooting an awesome Youtube video along a 7km (4.3mile) stretch of Ezoyamazakura in Hokkaido? Save the best for last with a trip down sakura road in early May!
From pretty buds, to stunning full blooms, to a blizzard of falling petals – it all happens in a fleeting, two week period. You can either arrange your trip to “chase” the bloom, or chill in one place and take in the whole cycle. If you’re coming to Japan in March-May, use your smartphone to get all-important weather info and cherry blossom forecasts!
During cherry blossom season, weather forecasts are combined with cherry blossom blooming reports. Make sure your trip is timed just right.
Do Cherry Blossoms Bloom All Year Long?
Thre are all kinds of cherry blossoms, but can you only see them in spring?
Well, there’s one kind called Shikizakura that blooms twice a year! Between October to January and again in April. Shikizakura in Gunma’s Fujioka City and Aichi Prefecture’s Toyota City are two photo-worthy locations.
From the end of September, you can catch Jugatsuzakura (literally “October Sakura”) blooming in the World Expo ’70 commemoration park in Suita City, Osaka. From Autumn to Spring, Fudanzakara flowers continually bloom in Mie Prefecture’s Suzuka City. For the longest stretch of sakura sightseeing in one spot, take a trip to Ito City in Shizuoka, where 40 varieties of cherry blossoms bloom from mid-September to early May!
Let’s Find the Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spot in Japan!
Websites offering cherry blossom info in multiple languages are few and far between, but Weathermap and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has what you need. For sites in Japanese only, try using your smartphone to translate automatically – just be aware that there could be mistakes.
Let’s Try SoftBank Prepaid SIM for Travel
When you travel, if thoughts like “I want to keep my roaming costs down” or “I’m worried about bandwidth” cross your mind, a prepaid SIM card is the best bet.
SoftBank Prepaid SIM for Travel cards let you access Japan’s 4G network with no speed limit and more than 99% area coverage. You can go where you want! Feel like calling someone special from the peak of Mt. Fuji? Or checking a website from the depths of the Tokyo Metro (even in tunnels)? No problem! SIM cards are valid for one month, and even if you exceed the 1GB maximum, buying extra bandwidth segments of 500MB is a snap.
What is a SIM card?
A SIM card is like an ID card for your smartphone, with its own unique phone number. When you come to Japan, pop in a SoftBank SIM to get fast speeds and special pricing. But make sure your phone is SIM free!
iPhone users with iPhone 5 or newer are all set. Confirm whether your model is SIM free before you arrive. If you want to stick to using your own smartphone during your journey to Japan, stop by the SoftBank counter at the airport.
Keep Networking Even After You Leave Japan
If there’s room in your itinerary, ask locals about places to see that may not be in guidebooks – most people in Japan are happy to make suggestions!
They might not speak English, but hand gestures and information displayed on a smartphone screen go a long way.
Using the camera and SNS apps on your phone, share your incredible Japan experiences with friends around the world!