How To Get the Most Out of Your Visit to Japan During Sakura Season
It has been one of my dreams to go to Japan and visit this crazy amazing culture that gave us the likes of sushi, anime, and Harajuko girls. Last year for my birthday I was so incredibly blessed to be able to travel to Japan with my boyfriend and now here I am ready to tell you all about it! Sakura season in Japan is known the world over and with good reason: for a few weeks, Japan is covered by cherry blossoms, peppered in between its alluring landscapes. Planning for Sakura season, however, doesn’t have to be stressful! Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to Japan during Sakura season:
1. Plan Your Dates
Sakura are spring flowers and they bloom as such, meaning they are not always going to be there (hence their appeal). Here comes the Japan Meteorological Corporation to the rescue! This association releases forecasts and predictions of the blooming dates of the sakura. Make sure to check the dates to make sure you are in the cities you want to be in during their bloom. Good dates to go to Tokyo, for example, are usually in the end of March beginning of April; the best time to see the Sakura in Hiroshima is before March ends (by April most flowers are gone).
2. Hotels Book Fast, Book Early
Sakura season is extremely popular with both locals and tourists alike, as such, hotels are usually completely booked weeks in advanced. I don’t mean to imply that you can’t find a place to stay, but, prices will be higher and you will have way fewer choices. As you visit Japan, use companies such as AirBnB and booking.com to find your best options. AirBnBs provide privacy, however, the spaces tend to be quite small.
3. Buy a Rail Pass
The JR Pass will allow you to travel between cities easily. The benefits are that it secures you a seat on the train, as well as, providing a sorts of metro card. The JR pass must be purchased online, prior to your trip. There are two options: Standard and Green (first class), and I personally recommend the standard as it still grants you reserved seating and the perks of using some of the metro lines in each city. As you might have noticed I said “some” lines: not all metro lines in a city are included in the pass. For example, in Tokyo there are lines which you can access with your JR pass, other lines are privately owned and you need to buy a separate ticket or metro pass. Nevertheless, cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto can be easily accessed and traveled with using your JR pass. For more information you can look at the prices and information on their site (www.jrailpass.com) as well as, maps and useful information for your visit.
4. Budget: It Can Get Expensive!
Just like traveling anywhere else, be mindful of your spending. Set limits for yourself on what you are willing and not willing to spend your money. Japan is an expensive country, but I knew I wanted to eat all the delicious food it had to offer and thus, I had no real limits here. However, I didn’t really want to spend my money on traveling from place to place so I invested in the rail pass and used the metro or walked. Another way to save money is to bring a day pack with snacks as you explore the city you are visiting. In any-case, bring back up sources of cash in case you do want to spend a little more (nothing bad with that either).
5. Take Pictures but Be Present
Of course you are going to and should take pictures; Sakura season is stunning and its beauty fleeting. The splendor of the season should also be enjoyed by being present: by walking through gardens and parks, looking at the colors in the trees, and interacting with nature. Sometimes we miss out on the beauty of our surroundings because we are looking at it through our screens.
Japan is a beautiful country and its people are welcoming and friendly: sit at a park, speak to locals, and eat the food. You will absolutely love what you experience in Japan.