Special Feature: Hanami Time!

It’s April and that means the brief, but beautiful cherry blossom season. The sales of blue tarpaulins are set to sky rocket and public intoxication in the middle of the day will reach giddy new heights. Whether it’s your first, final or other, 花見 season in Japan, Hyogo has a positive cornucopia of great spots to ponder the brevity of life. Here’s a few to consider –


夙川公園 (Shukugawa Park)

Whilst not the largest collection in Hyogo, the 2300 cherry trees lining the Shukugawa in Nishinomiya makes for a pretty good 花見 spot. The easy access is an added bonus, with stations on the Hankyu, Hanshin and JR lines. The 2.7km stretch of river is touted as one of the best in the prefecture. I suppose there’s nothing quite like the river/cherry tree combination.

Access: Hankyu – 夙川 (Shukugawa) OR 苦楽園口 (Kurakuenguchi)

Hanshin – 香櫨園 (Koroen)

JR – さくら夙川 (Sakurashukugawa)


篠山城跡(Sasayama Castle ruins)

Am I going to plug my own town’s blossoms? Yes, yes I am. Around 1000 trees litter the relatively small castle grounds in Sasayama and over the sakura season, you’re permitted to eat and drink on the castle mound. Combine this with a black bean ice cream when wandering around the rest of the town, and it’s a nice trip to the countryside.

Access:  JR福知山線 (Fukuchiyama line) to 篠山口(Sasayamaguchi). From the station, you can get a bus to the centre of town, or rent a bike (500円 per day) at the station and have a cycle around too (it’s pretty flat, and they even have electric-assist bikes if you’re feeling very, very lazy).



If you fancy completely Japaning out, why not combine 花見 season and 温泉 going with a trip to Kinosakionsen. The trees lining the river are lit with paper lanterns overnight, so consider a late departure/overnight stay in one of the ryokan dotted around town.

Access: JR山陰線(San-in line) to 城崎温泉 or the Zentan express bus.


明石公園(Akashi Park)

Along with Shukugawa, Akashi Park is officially a Good Cherry Viewing Place – it was selected as one of the top 100 spots in Japan to get your hanami on. The castle ruins and lake setting make this a beautiful place to lounge around and have a tipple or two.

Access: JR神戸線(Kobe line) to 明石

Sanyo to 山陽明石


竹田城跡 (Takeda Castle Ruins)

Whether you want to look at cherry trees or not, the Takeda castle ruins in 朝来市(Asago) are well worth a visit. A little bit more difficult to get to by public transport than some of the other locations, the sight of this castle rising over the surrounding countryside is a wonder in itself – the 桜 an added bonus.

Access: JR播但線(Bantan line) and walk.



Another way to make your time under the trees that little bit more special is to make it into a random dress-up event! At the suggestion of one of my Australian friends, a (rather large) group of us decided to have a Lolita-themed, teddy-bear’s picnic-esque 花見. If you’re okay with completely justified odd looks, give it a go – it was a blast!


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