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The best accessible spots to see cherry blossoms in bloom

With cherry blossom season peaking any minute now, you need to know where to go in Japan to see them at their most beautiful.

The Japan Meteorological Corporation has finally confirmed the official forecast for cherry blossom season in 2024. The blooms are expected from late March to early April, particularly in tourist hot-spots Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The peak usually lasts only around two weeks, so if you want to see them at their best, you need to know where to go. There are over 1,000 locations with Japanese cherry blossoms in bloom, so you’ve got plenty to choose from.

Accessible cherry blossom views in Tokyo

Forecast: flowering from March 23, full bloom by March 30

The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo has over 1,000 cherry trees of 65 different species. It’s one of Tokyo’s most popular public parks, and also one of the most accessible. Approach the park from either Shinjuku Station or Shinjuku-sanchome Station for the most accessible entry. The park has prominent signage (including English translations and symbols), wide paved paths in most areas, plenty of benches for rest, and accessible bathrooms available. There is a comprehensive guide to accessibility with maps available on the Gardens’ website. The park is open every day during cherry blossom season. Entrance fees apply.

Wide flat grassy area at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden with cherry blossoms blooming and a large building visible in the background
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden has over 1,000 cherry blossoms in bloom at peak season. Credit: Credit: JNTO

Accessible cherry blossom views in Kyoto

Forecast: flowering from March 23, full bloom by April 1

Kyoto can be a little more tricky than Tokyo when it comes to finding accessible spots to see cherry blossoms in bloom, but it can be done – especially if you have someone travelling with you who can give you a hand. Popular spots like the Philosopher’s Path are manageable, though you’ll need to prepare for uneven paths in places and the occasional un-cut curb.

You can get two-for-one value at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, seeing the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom and the year-round bamboo groves. The nearby Arashiyama Station is fully accessible (with bathrooms and elevators), and there are smooth, paved paths to and throughout the grove. Be prepared for some slopes and crowds, though, and some areas can only be reached via stairs (including areas of the Tenryuji Zen Temple). The bicycle rental outlet on-site has three manual wheelchairs available to loan.

A flat stone path through a grove of cherry blossoms
You might have to overcome a few access challenges to see cherry blossoms in Kyoto, but it’s worth it! Credit: JNTO

Hot tip: if you’d prefer local expert guidance and guaranteed accessibility, many tour operators in the region offer tailored cherry blossom tours (using wheelchair accessible taxis or busses) booked in advance.

Accessible cherry blossom views in Osaka

Forecast: flowering from March 25, full bloom by April 2

You can’t go skip a visit to Osaka Castle Park any time of year, but it’s particularly incredible during cherry blossom season, with 3,000 cherry trees across the vast grounds. The keep and grounds are wheelchair accessible, but there’s quite a bit of walking or wheeling involved, so make sure you’ve topped up your stores of energy. There are accessible bathrooms available inside the castle, and ramps across gates as needed for level access. There will be a small entrance fee to access some areas (including the Nishinomaru Garden), and extended visiting hours during peak cherry blossom season.

Artistic shot of the cherry blossoms in bloom with the Osaka Castle rising up behind them against a clear blue sky
Osaka Castle Park is particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season. Credit: JNTO

Hot tip: if you miss the peak season in the big cities, head to colder areas – like Sendai and Hokkaido – to catch late blooms in April and May.

For more information about cherry blossom season in Japan, projected bloom peaks, and accessible viewing spots, head to Live Japan.

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