There’s no denying that, geographically, Osaka prefecture is surrounded by some of the most popular destinations for enjoying the spectacular cherry blossoms. To the north is Kyoto prefecture, where cherry blossoms flourish over its traditional streets and adorn the many temples and shrines scattered throughout the region. To the east, in Nara Park, deer live among Japanese sakura cherry blossoms. Mount Yoshino, also in Nara prefecture, is covered with an endless carpet of pink and white flowers. In the west, the Himeji city in Hyogo prefecture is home to Himeji Castle, where you can enjoy this white castle under a sky of cherry blossoms.
But Osaka shouldn’t be underestimated. Its people have a reputation for being the most sociable in the country. That is why when the cherry blossoms begin to open their first blossoms, Osakans flock to enjoy the popular and traditional hanami. The frenetic and sometimes unpredictable energy of Osaka is home to wonderful places to enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the cherry blossoms. Food, drink, and a good time in the company of cherry blossoms — what more could you ask for?
- When is the best time to see see cherry blossoms in Osaka?
- Cherry blossoms in Osaka castle
- Sakura tunnel at Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka’s cherry blossom “temple”
- Banpaku Memorial Park, cherry blossoms in Osaka Expo Park
- How to get to Osaka’s cherry blossoms?
When is the Best Time to See Cherry Blossoms in Osaka?
In Osaka Prefecture, the cherry trees begin to fill with blossoms around the third week of March and last for about two weeks. They usually reach peak bloom (in Japanese, mankai 満開) during the first two or three days of April.
Please note that this is an estimate based on previous years and can vary depending on the weather and temperatures. That is why various agencies, such as the Japan National Tourism Agency (JNTO) and the Japan Meteorological Agency, publish their cherry blossom forecasts for the entire country every year. Detailed regional information by prefecture is also available.
Therefore, if you want to enjoy the delicate beauty of Osaka’s cherry blossoms to the fullest, my recommendation is to consult the above-mentioned websites before your visit.
Cherry Blossoms at Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle (大阪城) is one of the most emblematic symbols of the prefecture and one of the first destinations for first-time travelers to the city. Built in 1583 (and rebuilt numerous times since then), this beautiful castle guard the city of Osaka from the heights of the hill it stands on.
The Osaka Castle Park (大阪城公園) lay below the castle — an oasis in the middle of the modern skyscrapers that surround its perimeter. Admission is free and is one of the most famous places to enjoy the cherry blossoms in the city. Their cherry trees announce the arrival of spring in Osaka, especially with some of its 3,000 sakura tree varieties that bloom earlier than others. During this time, the park is usually quite crowded, so if your intention is to do some hanami sakura appreciation, it’s recommended to go earlier in the day to secure your space on the grounds.
At sunset, a light show illuminates the castle and sakura trees, and you can enjoy an evening picnic in a magical and romantic atmosphere.
Nishinomaru Garden: A Japanese Garden with Over 400 Cherry Trees
One of the most popular areas of the park is Nishinomaru Garden (西の丸庭園), an extensive garden with more than 400 sakura. This garden is part of the “Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots” list, created by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association, for its beauty and a wide variety of cherry tree species.
The entrance fee is 200 yen and opens from 9:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.(March-October) and 9:00 a.m. to 16:30 p.m. (November-February). Admission is until 30 minutes before closing. The park is closed on Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday) year-end and New Year holidays (Dec. 28 to Jan. 4)
*Please note that in previous years, prices and hours have varied during the sakura season. Please check the Nishinomaru website for the latest updates on price and hours.
Sakura Tunnel at Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka’s Cherry Blossom “Temple”
Sakuranomiya (桜ノ宮) literally means “the temple of sakura” and another favorite place for Osaka people to enjoy the cherry blossoms. Visitors are greeted with an explosion of pink flowers from the station platform to Sakuranomiya.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park (馬桜之宮公園) stretches for 4km along the Okawa River (大川), which is flanked by rows of cherry trees whose flowers appear to float on the water. It also offers stunning views of Osaka Castle, which watches over the city on the horizon, and the modern skyscrapers in the area that are reflected in the water as if it were a mirror.
This park is the pride of the locals, not only for the sakura, but also for its multitude of green spaces, recreational areas, and an artificial beach in the river! Although bathing is not allowed here, it’s a good place to refresh yourself, sunbathe, play sports, and even build a sandcastle.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a place where local people go running or cycling throughout the year. But, as you may have already noticed, in spring, hanami becomes the favorite “sport” of the Japanese. The park, which has more than 4,800 cherry trees of different species, is the perfect setting for sitting on the grass with friends or colleagues to eat, drink, talk and have a good time, especially at sunset.
Sakura Cruise on Okawa River
A different way to enjoy the cherry blossoms in Sakuranomiya is to do it from the water. It’s a unique opportunity to discover Osaka and its sakura from another perspective. There are different cruise companies that sail along the Okawa River between tunnels of cherry blossoms.
The Duck Tour company has water buses that splash into the Okawa River from land. The tour lasts 90 minutes and there is an audio guide that explains the various landmarks on the way in different languages. You can book a water tour at their office located at the river station close to Temmabashi train station (天満橋駅). Check out the information and prices on the official website of the Osaka Tourist Office.
Banpaku Memorial Park: Cherry Blossoms in Osaka Expo Park
Banpaku Memorial Park (万博記念公園), also known as Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, is home to the largest number of cherry blossom trees in Osaka. Strolling among more than 5,500 sakura that is part of the park’s flora is truly overwhelming. The entrance fee is 260 yen and the park can be visited from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (the last entry is at 4:30 p.m.).
This park was the venue for the Osaka Expo ’70, an exhibition whose theme was “Progress and Harmony for Mankind.” It also served to internationally highlight the great development of Japan during the 1960s.
When the Expo finished, the venue was opened to the public and became a park. Today, some of the facilities that were used during this great event still remain, including a commemorative museum and the park’s emblem: Tower of the Sun.
The Tower of the Sun is a 20-meter tall statue built by acclaimed Japanese artist Taro Okamoto (岡本太郎) and became the symbol of Expo ’70. The tower held inside another Okamoto’s artwork: The Tree of Life (生命の樹, Seimei no Ki). This sculpture is a psychedelic representation of a tree of life and shows the evolution of life and the relationships between organisms.
Although Tower of the Sun was closed after the Expo, it has now reopened to the public and visitors can now enjoy this artwork. Purchase a ticket in advance to view this artwork for yourself.
Banpaku Memorial Park is closed every Wednesday, or the following Thursday if Wednesday is a national holiday, and is open every day during Golden Week, October and November.
Sakura Festival: An Event Dedicated to Cherry Blossoms
Every year during the cherry blossom season, the Sakura Festival is held. Dozens of food stalls line the park avenues and it’s a great opportunity to enjoy the most popular dishes of Osaka such as okonomiyaki or takoyaki. There are also local and traditional crafts stalls and live shows where visitors can immerse themselves in Japanese culture.
The park has large grassy esplanades where you can sit, eat, and drink. Or if you prefer, there are also some cafes and restaurants where you can relax and satisfy your stomach. Here you can check the map of Banpaku Memorial Park.
How to Get to Osaka’s Cherry Blossoms?
- Osaka Castle – The nearest train station is JR Osakajo Koen JR大阪城公園駅 (Osaka Loop Line). Additionally, it is accessible from Morinomiya station 森ノ宮駅 (Osaka Loop Line, Chuo Subway Line, Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line) and Osaka Business Park station 大阪ビジネスパーク駅 (Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line).
- Kema Sakuranomiya Park – The nearest train station is Sakuranomiya 桜ノ宮駅(Osaka Loop Line). It is also accessible on foot from Osaka Castle by following Okawa River. The walk takes about 30 minutes and the path is lined with cherry blossom trees.
- Banpaku Memorial Park – The nearest train station is Bampakukinenkoen Station 万博記念公園駅 (Osaka Monorail and Saito Line). The easiest way to take the Osaka Monorail is through Senri-Chuo Station 千里中央駅.
Osaka may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of the famous Japanese cherry blossoms. But, as you have seen in this article, this city full of sakura spots is also home to emblematic places with lots of charm to enjoy the fleeting sakura blossoms. It is, definitely, worth a visit in spring. Are you up for it? 🌸