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With cherry blossom (sakura) season well underway in Tokyo and other areas of Honshu, it's not too long until we'll see them in full bloom up here in Hokkaido. Due to the colder climate, cherry blossom trees bloom much later in Hokkaido than the rest of Japan. This means those that missed the opportunity in the earlier months can travel further north and still see the beauty of the sakura in Japan.
The trees usually blossom in the first or second week of May, however this year is expected a little earlier due to the weather. The blossom date often depends on the severity of the previous winter, elevation, tree type and the particular area. The blossom forecast is split into the following three sections:
- First Bloom - When the flowers begin to open
- Full Bloom - The best time for viewing when 80% of flowers have bloomed
- Scatter - the flowers start to lose their petal
Although some flowers bloom sooner than others, this year we can expect to see the bloom arrive around the 24th April. The blossomed flowers will fall roughly 10 days to 2 weeks after they start to bloom, so you need to be quick and have good timing. Keep an eye on our socials (and this page) as we keep you up to date on when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom here in Niseko.
Whether it's for a family picnic, a nice place to relax or to get some Instagram-worthy photographs, our guide will help you find the best locations to enjoy the blooms!
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Niseko Town | Kutchan | Nearby areas | See the map
The Soga Shrine is the first recommended stop when driving or cycling from Hirafu along Route 343. At the location, you will see a bridge with car parks on each side followed by a bridge that leads towards the shrine. When entering, please be sure to be respectful of the importance of this area (picnics are not allowed here).
There are sakura trees in the car park, however the most photogenic spot is behind the shrine. The area is secluded in the woods with a beautiful atmosphere. At the back of the shrine alongside the sakura trees, you will find a panoramic view of Mt. Niseko-Annupuri which is an excellent photo opportunity if the weather permits.
Soga Forest Park
This park has around 50 Ezoyama cherry trees, with the best time to visit being early May. From the park's lawn plaza, you can enjoy a beautiful views of Mt. Yotei with various sakura trees. The area also has multiple magnolia trees and is a beautiful place to visit in autumn as well. You'll find multiple walkways which will weave among the trees, making for plenty of great photo opportunities.
Soga Forest Park is in close proximity to 7/11, making it a popular place for visitors to stop for picnics and BBQ's. Please be sure to use the dedicated BBQ areas, as it is forbidden on the grass and reserved only for the gravel areas.
Located walking distance from Soga Forest Park (around 1km), Niseko Station has a small amount of sakura trees that make it worth visiting if you are in the area. While not as densely populated with trees as other areas nearby, the European architecture of the station make for a unique photograph if you are nearby.
Niseko Kaributo Shrine
This is the main shrine in Niseko Town, offering a unique Japanese atmosphere. This area is 1.5km from the Niseko station, so still within walking/cycling distance if you don't mind a bit of exercise. You'll find plenty of sakura trees on the walkways down towards the shrine, truly a beautiful place to visit.
Arishima Memorial Park
A 15 minute drive from Grand Hirafu, this park is filled by a number of cherry blossom trees and offers great views of Mt. Yotei and the Annupuri ranges. You'll also find the Arishima Memorial Museum located here, which has an excellent display of natural history and artwork. The museum has a high lookout point which offers beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding area. You can also enjoy freshly baked bagels and coffee from the shops in the area.
Twin Cherry Trees
Most easily accessed with a car, The Twin Cherry Trees are around a 7 minute drive from Grand Hirafu. The two standalone sakura trees are nestled in the middle of the picturesque Soga field. This is by far one of the most impressive landscapes in the area, with the trees being set against the jaw-dropping backdrop of Mt. Yotei. You'll often find plenty of photographers here capturing the beauty of this spot.
Cherry Blossom trees are scattered around the town of Kutchan, with plenty of locations presenting excellent views of the surrounding landscape. Below are some of the most beautiful areas that we recommend visiting.
A few minutes drive from central Kutchan, this shrine is a beautiful spot to stop by to see cherry blossom trees. After bloom, you'll find the shrine nestled among the beautiful trees with Mt. Yotei making an appearance in the distance if the weather is sunny.
Asahigaoka Total Park
Located close by to the Kutchan Station, Asahigaoka Total Park is an excellent place for a picnic with spectacular views of Mt. Yotei. The park has two main areas, an upper and a lower. You'll find multiple children's playgrounds and a bicycle track in the upper section, with the lower area housing an undercover area and a beautiful pond. This is an easy to access area from Kutchan and is a great place to take the family for the afternoon to view sakura trees.
Shiba Sakura Garden
This garden is privately owned, however Mishima San the owner leaves it open to the public to view the beautiful area. After bloom, it is filled with Shiba Sakura flowers, a ground dwelling species unlike the rest of the sakura discussed in this article. They cover the ground with their beautiful pink and white colours and the garden offers excellent views of Mt. Yotei with the surrounding landscape. These flowers tend to bloom later than other sakura, often not until early June. Entry to the area is free, however it is important to be respectful to the land seeing that it is privately owned.
There area plenty of other locations nearby if you have access to a vehicle, making for great day trips. These locations are all within a 45 minute drive from Grand Hirafu.
Located in the neighbouring town Iwanai, this shrine is surrounded by a lovely park full of different varieties of cherry blossom trees. The town is also located by the Sea of Japan so makes for an excellent day trip away from the mountains of Niseko to experience a different landscape. The drive to Iwanai is around 45 minutes from Niseko and takes a scenic route up over the mountain range, offering plenty of great photo opportunities on the way.
Arai Memorial Museum
This museum sits atop a hill overlooking the picturesque streets of Iwanai and the Sea of Japan. This is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic out in the open, surrounded by sakura without the crowds that are found around Niseko. The museum is also famous for its extensive collection of Picasso print sketches.
Shiribetsugawa Lan Lan Park
A large, open park located in Rankoshi town which sits along the Shiribetsu River. Here there are a large number of cherry blossom trees throughout the park, making it a popular spot for picnics, bicycle rides or a walk. The Shiribetsu River nearby also makes for great photo opportunities for those with a keen eye.
Blaize is a photographer and content creator from Australia, having worked for our team during the 22/23 winter season. He has an extensive knowledge of the Niseko area, frequently visiting to enjoy the world-famous powder snow.
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