Seven Fabulous Cherry Blossom Spots, Accessible from Osaka by Train!

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Written by Editorial department

The world is facing tough times at the beginning of 2020, yet Japan's cherry blossoms still bloom beautifully each year. For all those who love Japan’s cherry blossoms, here are seven famous cherry blossom spots that can be reached from Osaka by train, whether visitors wish to see them this year or would like to go see them in the future.

Osaka’s Neighbor, Nara Prefecture, Boasts Many Famous Cherry Blossom Sites

From 250 to 794 AD, Nara was the old capital and center of Japan's government. Bordering the large cities of Osaka and Kyoto, it boasts easy access to public transportation, but Nara's charm lies in its relaxed atmosphere. With its plethora of historical structures and cultural heritage sites, Nara is also surrounded by mountains. It’s a popular tourist destination where visitors can also enjoy the natural scenery.

The famous Great Buddha of Nara
The famous Great Buddha of Nara

Nara's Sightseeing Appeal

In addition to numerous shrines and temples that are World Heritage Sites and national treasures, the area overflows with natural beauty, including nearby Mount Yoshino. Besides the changing scenery of the seasons and the standard tourist attractions, Nara has lesser-known places like traditional townhouse cafes where visitors may casually enjoy Japanese culture and take pictures to share on social media. Part of Nara’s appeal lies in fewer tourists, compared to Kyoto, so it is easy to relax and unwind here.

There are many spots to enjoy taking photos for sharing on social media.
There are many spots to enjoy taking photos for sharing on social media.

Convenient Access from Osaka by Kintetsu Trains

One recommended way to use public transportation for sightseeing in Nara is the Kintetsu Railway Co., locally known as "Kintetsu." Conveniently covering all of the famous sightseeing areas of Nara, Kintestsu also offers many bargain tickets and plans for tourists. For example, depending on your travel plans, you can get a good deal and enjoy smooth travels using the "KINTETSU RAIL PASS 1 day" or "KINTETSU RAIL PASS 2 days". These are valid for unlimited rides (except for limited express trains) within designated zones in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. Another alternative is the "KINTETSU RAIL PASS," including Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara as well as Ise-Shima in Mie Prefecture and Nagoya for five days of unlimited rides within designated zones. Be sure to confirm the information with Kintetsu before departing.

Kintetsu trains offer a smooth, easy trip to sightseeing destinations.
Kintetsu trains offer a smooth, easy trip to sightseeing destinations.

Six Famous Cherry Blossom Spots in Nara Prefecture

Spring is the best time to visit Nara. Enjoy the unique cherry blossom views of the old capital, from spots where you can see deer, temples, and cherry blossoms all together, to the Nara cherry blossoms blooming all over Mount Yoshino—said to be the best in Japan—and historical shrines and temples with cherry trees that are hundreds of years old.

Cherry trees in full bloom form a backdrop to deer in Nara Park.
Cherry trees in full bloom form a backdrop to deer in Nara Park.

1. Nara Park

Dotted with designated national treasures and registered World Heritage Sites, many tourists, both domestic and overseas, visit Nara Park all year long.

The Impressive Great Buddha Hall at Todai-ji Temple
The Impressive Great Buddha Hall at Todai-ji Temple

Not only is Nara Park famous for its Great Buddha statue and wild deer, but it is also known as a cherry blossom spot, and many people visit in spring to view the flowers. With about 1700 cherry trees of different varieties planted in the large park, different kinds of blossoms can be enjoyed from the end of March until the late-blooming Yaezakura trees flower in early May. In particular, the small but elegant Nara-no-Yaezakura blossoms at Chisoku Temple, designated as a natural monument, are well worth a visit. The familiar Yoshino cherry trees, blooming around the hexagonal hall, are also a must-see.

Nara Park in the Spring
Nara Park in the Spring

There are no walls, fences, or gates, so visitors may enter from any direction to walk in the park, which charges no admission. About five minutes' walk from Kintetsu-Nara Station, the easy access of its location is also appealing.

Cherry trees in full bloom and friendly wild deer greet visitors.
Cherry trees in full bloom and friendly wild deer greet visitors.
Flowering season
Late March to early May
Address
Kasuga-cho, Nara City, Nara and other locations
Access
Walk 5 minutes from Kintetsu-Nara Station

2. Asuka Ishibutai Kofun Tomb

Constructed in the early 7th century, Asuka Ishibutai Kofun is thought to be the tomb of an influential person. Called “Ishibutai”, the ruins are a heap of megaliths surrounded by about 60 cherry trees. Encircled in blooms during cherry blossom season, this is a spectacular sight.

Ishibutai Kofun is an ancient tomb surrounded by cherry trees.
Ishibutai Kofun is an ancient tomb surrounded by cherry trees.

One really must visit it to feel the harmony between the imposing presence of the megalithic tomb and the beauty of the cherry blossoms.

The impact of the megaliths surprises visitors!
The impact of the megaliths surprises visitors!

The combined appearance of canola flowers and cherry blossoms is another highlight. To reach this spot, take the Nara Kotsu Asuka tour bus from the east exit of Kintetsu Kashiharajingu-mae Station. Get off at Ishibutai bus stop and walk about 3 minutes.

Stroll among the cherry trees in a calm atmosphere.
Stroll among the cherry trees in a calm atmosphere.
Flowering season
Late March to late April
Address
254 Shimasho Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun, Nara
Access
Take the Nara Kotsu Asuka tour bus from the east exit of Kintetsu Kashiharajingu-mae Station to Ishibutai bus stop; walk about 3 minutes
Hours
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (entry until 4:45 p.m.)
Admission
General: 300 (250) yen; elementary to high school students: 100 (50) yen
* Prices in parentheses ( ) are the group rates (for groups of 30 or more)

3. Mount Shigi

Chogosonshi-ji Temple, built on the south side of Mount Shigi, is famous for the beautiful cherry blossoms visible nearby. Lined up alongside about 2000 stone lanterns, the cherry trees are a scene of overwhelming beauty when in full bloom.

Stone lanterns and blooming cherry trees stand side by side.
Stone lanterns and blooming cherry trees stand side by side.

At sunset, the stone lanterns are lit to illuminate the cherry blossoms for another exquisite scene. A few mercury-vapor lamps here and there lend a bit of elegance, and a gorgeous night view of Nara Basin can be glimpsed from the main temple.

Not only are there highlights to see around the grounds, it is also interesting to stay overnight in the visitors’ lodgings. Here, you can experience the life of monks and nuns. Even visitors who can’t stay at the lodgings can order Buddhist vegetarian cuisine or traditional Japanese kaiseki lunches for takeout.

Cherry trees can be seen from the visitors' lodgings.
Cherry trees can be seen from the visitors' lodgings.
Visitors can try Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, too.
Visitors can try Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, too.
Flowering season
Late March to early April
Address
Shigisan, Heguri-cho, Ikoma-gun, Nara
Access
Ride the Nishi-Shigi Cable Line from Shigisanguchi Station, get off at Takayasuyama Station. Take the Kintetsu bus for about 10 minutes and get off at Shigisan-mon, then walk about 10 minutes.
Alternatively, take the Nara Kotsu bus from Kintetsu Shigisanshita Station for about 10 minutes, get off at Shigi Ohashi and walk about 5 minutes.
Visiting hours
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission
Free to enter the grounds

4. Koriyama castle

Now in ruins, historical Koriyama castle was built over 400 years ago. About 800 cherry trees were planted all around the restored ruins, making the castle tower observatory a popular flower viewing spot with a view of all the cherry blossoms.

The castle ruins are surrounded by cherry trees.
The castle ruins are surrounded by cherry trees.
Look down from the castle tower observatory to refresh yourself with the view of cherry blossoms.
Look down from the castle tower observatory to refresh yourself with the view of cherry blossoms.

At night, visitors can enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms illuminated by about 600 bonbori lamps. The transience of the cherry blossoms and the enchanting lamp-lit castle ruins combine to create an ambience of subtle beauty.

Cherry trees at Koriyama Castle ruins are seen in full bloom.
Cherry trees at Koriyama Castle ruins are seen in full bloom.
Flowering season
Late March to early April
Address
Jonai-cho, Yamato-Koriyama City, Nara
Access
Walk 5 minutes from Kintetsu-Koriyama Station

5. Mount Yoshino

With their large blooming range and long history, the cherry blossoms of Mount Yoshino are so famous that they immediately come to mind when thinking of Nara’s cherry trees. Over 30,000 cherry trees of about 200 varieties, mainly Shiro-Yamazakura, are clustered here. From ridge to ridge and valley to valley, the transient and beautiful mountain cherry blossoms cover the whole mountan in a stunning display. This is also called hitome-senbon, or “the glimpse of a thousand trees,” meaning a gorgeous landscape of a thousand trees that can be seen with one look.

The Cherry Blossoms of Mount Yoshino
The Cherry Blossoms of Mount Yoshino

Starting at the foot of the mountain and moving to the top, the flower buds open each year from late March through late April, so visitors can enjoy a long peak season. Doing some light hiking is a recommended way to enjoy the blossoms at their best.

Gaze at cherry trees in full bloom while hiking!
Gaze at cherry trees in full bloom while hiking!

Yoshino also produces the kudzu vine, and the starch taken from its roots is used to make the famous Yoshino “hon-kuzu”. Kuzumochi made from this rare and expensive ingredient is a delicious Japanese confection with an elegant sweetness and melting, jelly-like texture. It is just the kind of sweet to savor while gazing at cherry blossoms.

Kuzumochi is a Japanese confection made from Yoshino kudzu.
Kuzumochi is a Japanese confection made from Yoshino kudzu.
Flowering season
Late March to late April
Address
Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara
Access
Take the ropeway from Kintetsu Yoshino Station. Get off at Yoshino-san Station

6. Kinpusen-ji Temple

Kinpusen-ji, the symbol of Mount Yoshino, is the head temple of the Shugendo religious sect, a fusion of Buddhism and ancient Japanese mountain worship.

Kinpusen-ji temple is surrounded by cherry trees.
Kinpusen-ji temple is surrounded by cherry trees.

On the grounds of Kinpusen-ji, Zao Hall is the second-largest wooden building after the Great Buddha Hall at Todai-ji. It is also registered as a World Heritage Site.

Zao Hall at Kinpusen-ji Temple
Zao Hall at Kinpusen-ji Temple

In 1333, just before the former Yoshino Castle fell, legend has it that the lord of the castle held his last banquet in front of four cherry trees at the entrance of Zao Hall. Feel the grandeur of Zao Hall with the beauty of the famous cherry trees. The simple and modest beauty of the cherry trees on Mount Yoshino can also be glimpsed from the temple. Kinpusen-ji is a highly recommended place to experience the many faces and profound beauty of cherry blossoms.

Stroll the temple grounds with cherry trees in full bloom.
Stroll the temple grounds with cherry trees in full bloom.
Flowering season
Early to mid-April
Address
2498 Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara
Access
Take the ropeway from Kintetsu Yoshino station. Get off at Yoshino-san station, then walk for 10 minutes.
Hours
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (entry until 4:00 p.m.)
Admission
Free to enter the grounds. 500 yen for Zao Hall

Famous Cherry Blossom Spots in Mie Prefecture

There are spectacular cherry blossom spots in Mie prefecture, located next to Nara. By going just a little bit beyond Nara, you can see them, so we would like to present you with an opportunity. The best deal for getting around Mie Prefecture is the "KINTETSU RAIL PASS" mentioned at the beginning of this article, and the "KINTETSU RAIL PASS Plus," which lets visitors ride tour buses around the area.

Nabana no Sato

Boasting beautiful flowers in every season, Nabana no Sato is Japan's largest flower theme park. While its large-scale light display is also famous, the cherry blossoms naturally take center stage in spring. In early March, about 300 Kawazu-zakura trees in the park begin blooming beautifully. With an early flowering season, they stay in bloom for about a month. Their large, vivid pink blossoms are a thing of beauty.

Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms are seen in full bloom.
Kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms are seen in full bloom.

Planted around a central pond, the cherry trees lining the promenade encircling it form a tunnel of cherry blossoms in the spring. Following the Kawazu-zakura, the Yoshino variety of cherry trees bloom from late March to mid-April. About 270 trees are planted on the grounds and nearby. It is popular to watch them compete with the tulips and canola flowers blooming at the same time in a flower “beauty contest”.

Tulips are photographed in full bloom.
Tulips are photographed in full bloom.

For those using public transportation, the "KINTETSU RAIL PASS Plus" is highly recommended. This pass takes you directly by bus to Nabana no Sato from the nearest station, Kintetsu-Nagashima. It also offers a discount on admission to Nabana no Sato.

The grand-scale illumination displays are a must-see!
The grand-scale illumination displays are a must-see!
Flowering season
Early March to mid-April
Address
270 Komae-Urushibata, Nagashima-cho, Kuwana City, Mie
Access
Ride the direct bus for about 10 minutes from Kintetsu-Nagashima Station
Hours
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (*3/1 to 5/6)
Admission
Elementary school age to Adult: 2,300 yen (with 1,000-yen coupon) / Under elementary school age
*If you present your KINTETSU RAIL PASS, Adult admission is discounted from 2,300 to 1,800 yen, and admission for children ages 6-15 is discounted from 2,300 to 1,400 yen. Young children between the ages of 3 and 6 are charged 200 yen.

Summary

While gazing at historical structures and turning your thoughts to the past, savor the fresh scent of cherry blossoms on a stroll in Nara. Blending past and present, the charm of this ancient capital is enhanced by the transient and captivating loveliness of cherry blossoms, which bring out its subtle beauty. In the spring, visitors to Nara will surely encounter many unforgettable sights. Take advantage of the bargains and convenience of Kintetsu trains to enjoy your spring travels.

Kintetsu trains are seen running through Nara in the spring.
Kintetsu trains are seen running through Nara in the spring.