Travel trends aside, there are some experiences that are as treasured as they are timeless, and sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan is one of them. Cloud-like blooms of blossoms in all shades, from white to pale pink to fuschia, set against backdrops of gardens and temples, snow-tipped mountains, or even TOKYO SKYTREE®: this is the Japan of Basho, of Hokusai, of romance, of wonder.
While the current travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 prevent travellers from physically jetting off to Japan at the minute… it’s definitely worth adding this to your list or must-see and do places and experiences.
Away from the Tokyo hordes are some of the top cherry blossom spots around the Tobu network of Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Tochigi, and Gunma for a sensational, sensory, and sensual springtime experience – and don’t just limit yourself to cherries, the plum and peach blossom are gorgeous too!
Spring at TOKYO SKYTREE and Sumida River
The SKYTREE ROUND THEATER® will be playing a sakura-inspired program, projected onto the windows of the Tokyo Skytree Tembo Deck Floor 350. Once you’ve taken in the incredible views of Tokyo from the Tembo Deck and the Tembo Galleria, head down to Sumida River to stroll along its banks while enjoying the gorgeous blossom – the Fukujin Bridge is a great spot to stop for some photos. Neighbouring Sumida Park is another fantastic destination for blossom-seekers.
Night Cherry Blossom Party: Kinugawa Onsen
The hanami vibe doesn’t have to end at dusk: these night-time blossom illuminations are another reason to visit the hot spring area of Kinugawa. Kinugawa Onsen Gokoku Shrine is lit up nightly from 3 to 7 April. Access to Kinugawa is made easy with the Nikko Pass – and that means you can enjoy the spring blossom backdrop to Nikko’s incredible world heritage sites, too. Another hot spring area worth a visit during hanami season is Ashinomaki Onsen, renowned for its skin-beautifying properties so you’ll leave looking as fresh as the spring flowers.
Rapeseed and Cherry Blossoms at Satte
Cherry blossom pink may be spring’s most iconic colour but the warm yellow of rapeseed flower also brightens the season. So vivid are its blossoms that they recall the light of celestial bodies, as captured by the haiku poet Yosa Buson: “Oh, rapeseed blossoms / the moon is to the east / the is sun to the west”. At Satte City, in Saitama, you don’t need to choose between the two: cherry blossom pink and rapeseed yellow coexist in a springtime harmony that can be enjoyed from late March to early April.
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, to Open in May
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, from the world-famous Ritz-Carlton group, will be opening its doors just in time for the early summer travel season. Located in the heart of Oku-Nikko, on the shores of Lake Chuzenji, this luxury retreat hotel will be the first in the Ritz-Carlton group to include hot spring baths supplied by local springs. Each of its 94 guest rooms features a private balcony and a relaxation space modelled on traditional engawa (sunroom). These sophisticated rooms also manage to capture the essence of Japan’s history and culture through local craft details. The expansive natural surroundings of Oku-Nikko and richly atmospheric retreat accommodation aside, guests can also elect to take part in activity tours, divided into the three categories of Nature, Culture, and Spirituality, designed to highlight the rich beauty and heritage of the Oku-Nikko area, and Japan as a whole.
Nikko Passes: No Better Deal for Travel in Nikko
Tobu Railway offers two fantastic passes designed to help you make the most of any trip to Nikko. The Nikko Pass All Area (4,600 yen[20/Apr-30/Nov] or 4,230 yen[01/Dec-19/Apr] /adult; 4 day validity) covers the whole Nikko area, while the Nikko Pass World Heritage Area (2,040 yen/adult; 2 day validity) is ideal if you plan to concentrate on the incredible world heritage sites that Nikko has to offer. Both passes include a round journey from Tokyo, free bus rides in the applicable area, a 20% discount on express train fares, and discounts and offers at shops and restaurants.
Monthly Highlights: What to Watch Out for in the month of April
April is all about new season vegetables, including Sansai, “mountain vegetables” that are often a rich feature of local dishes. Spring greens, podded peas (sayaendo), broad beans, white and green asparagus, new potatoes; this is a great time to discover Japanese plant-based cuisine—just as delicious if not as universally renowned as sushi. April is also great for citrus: look out for some lesser known varieties such as the dekopon, natsumikan, and sanpokan.
Wednesday, April 29th is Showa Day, which honours the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, whose reign—known as the Showa Era—ran from 1926 to 1989. The day is intended to be an opportunity to reflect on the turbulence and momentous change that happened during the Showa Era, as well as the future of Japan.
About Tobu Railway
Tobu Railway is the largest private rail system in the Kanto region, with a 463.3km network extending through five prefectures: Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi, and Gunma. Tobu Railway offers a range of discount passes exclusively for international travellers, which can be purchased online via their English language website.
Tobu Railway also operates Tobu Japan Trip, an English language website providing extensive information about the destinations across its network to inspire and enable visitors to plan their travel in detail.
Tobu Railway is part of the Tobu Group, which also operates health clubs, golf courses, theme parks, and hotels, and develops and manages condominiums, housing developments, department stores, and various other properties along its railways and in Tokyo, most notably Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower.