Cherry blossom season – also known as sakura – is a magical time of the year where certain trees flower with a fairytale-like white or pink.
The season is normally short-lived, just a couple of weeks in the spring, which makes it harder for travellers to plan their visits. However, this is also what make cherry blossoms such a sight to behold. It takes perfect timing to see them on full display.
If you want to try to catch a cherry blossom season in 2020, below are five of the best destinations to visit.
The obvious place to start with cherry blossom, or sakura, is in Japan. Each spring (Australia’s autumn), the country turns pink like the world’s slowest Mexican wave, heading from south to north.
The 2020 sakura season is predicted to begin in Tokyo on 19 March, Kyoto on 23 March and Osaka on 25 March.
In each area, the pink flowering lasts for around two weeks. Some of the most spectacular places to see the change in colour include Fuji Five Lakes (outside Tokyo), Hirosaki Castle (at the north of Honshu) or the mountainsides of Yoshino (towards Osaka).
In Korea, sakura begins in the southern part of the country – Jeju Island – where you can see bigger, pinker flowers than the more common whiter flowers on the mainland.
For 2020, the cherry blossom forecast for Korea has them starting in Jeju on 23 March, visible in Busan from 26 March and making their way up to Seoul by 6 April. Because of the similar climates, much of this time overlaps with the Japanese sakura.
Some of the best-recommended spots to see the cherry blossom are the island of Yeouido (near Seoul), the seaside town of Jinhae (close to Busan) or the Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival.
United States of America
Less well known than the Asian cherry blossom scenes is the way the flowering tree lights up the United States.
Perhaps more surprising is that seemingly the whole country gets to enjoy the spectacle. From the west coast of California and Oregon, the southern states of Georgia and Texas to the east coast of New York and Pennsylvania, you can experience this natural phenomenon in almost many states.
In 2020, some of the best cherry blossom experiences in the U.S. can be found at the festival in Georgia (27 March to 5 April), Oregon (expected 25 March) and in Washington DC (expected 2 April).
India is another country blessed with cherry blossoms and its main destination is Shillong. The capital of the state of Meghalaya is in the north-east of the country, sandwiched between Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Unlike other areas of the world, Shillong holds its cherry blossom festival during the Australian spring.
Although 2020 dates are yet to be announced, the 2019 festival was held from 13 to 16 November.
You may be surprised to see Australia on the list, but thanks to being home to the largest Japanese garden in the southern hemisphere, it’s possible to see sakura without an international passport.
Where is it? Cowra. A regional NSW town that’s a four-hour drive from Sydney Airport.
Like with India, this festival is held during the Australian spring. Again, 2020’s dates haven’t been confirmed but in 2019 it was on 28 September. In most years, the cherry blossoms of Cowra are visible from September to mid-October, but they may be a touch earlier this year.
- The Budget Traveller’s Guide to Tokyo, Japan
- The young driver’s guide to car rental in Australia
- Australia Travel Trends 2020