Guide to Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan

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SAKURA | A Guide to Cherry Blossom Season in Japan!

29th March 2023

Is there anything more beautiful than Japan in springtime?

With sakura season in full bloom, let's dive deep into hanami celebrations in Japan (and how much it would cost to travel there).

SAKURA & SPIRITUALITY | Cherry Blossoms in Japan



moon at twilight,
a cluster of petals falling
from the cherry tree
- 正岡子規 Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)

Cherry blossoms have captured the imaginations of poets and artists for millennia.
The delicate flowers bloom only fleetingly – for about one week – before falling to the earth in a shower of pale pink petals.
And it’s this fleeting beauty which captures the essence of the Japanese aesthetic mono no aware.



Mono no aware is feeling sensitivity to the bittersweetness of impermanence. It’s about seeing the beauty in the ephemerality of life.
Just as the cherry blossoms are most beautiful when the petals start to flutter to the earth, life is preciously fleeting, and the even the most beautiful moments are temporary.

Mono no aware is a sweet, nostalgic, wistful emotion tinged with sadness.

But it also inspires a deep appreciation for life, with a renewed sense to cherish every moment.

And so, cherry blossoms have come to symbolise the transience of human life, hope, and renewal.



In Shinto mythology (Shinto being one of the primary religions in Japan), the goddess of cherry blossoms is known as Konohanasakuya-hime.

She was said to be so radiantly beautiful that when Ninigi-no-Mikoto (who himself was the heavenly grandson of Amaterasu Ōmikami - the Sun Goddess - and ancestor to the first Japanese Emperor) was walking along the ocean and caught glimpse of Konohanasakuya-hime, he begged her father for her hand in marriage.

Her father offered his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage instead, who was Iwa-Naga-Hime – the Rock Princess.

However, Ninigi-no-Mikoto was in love with Konohanasakuya-hime and chose to wed her instead.

The descendants of Ninigi-no-Mikoto and Konohanasakuya-hime were humankind, and it is because of this union that our lives are beautiful but fleeting, like cherry blossoms, instead of enduring and eternal like stone.



Hanami (花見) - cherry blossom viewing - is an integral part of Japanese culture; where family, friends and loved ones gather beneath the flowering trees to celebrate springtime with a picnic.

Cherry blossoms have been revered since the Yayoi Period (300BCE -250CE), when rice cultivation first began on the Japanese archipelago. The cherry trees were worshipped as they were believed to be inhabited by the deity of the harvest, with the sakura blossoms heralding springtime’s warmer weather, signalling the start of the rice cultivation. The flowers were also used for divination – predicting the harvest of the rice crop.

Since then, the relationship between humans and cherry blossoms continued to bloom.

Cherry blossom viewing can be dated back as early as the Nara period (710 - 794 CE), where it was originally plum blossoms that were admired by Japanese nobility and aristocracy.

In fact, the term 'hanami' first appeared in the Heian era (794-1185), in what is considered the world’s oldest novel - the legendary Tale of Genji - which was written in the early 11th century by a lady-in-waiting known as Murasaki Shikibu.

In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), hanami spread to the samurai class, and soon spread to the people in in the Edo period (1603 – 1868).

Now in the 21st century, hanami has spread around the world, drawing thousands of international tourists to Japan every year to experience the beauty of sakura flowers.


HANAMI | Tips For Celebrating


>> Check the weather before you set up your picnic, and make sure to dress warm.

>> Research where you'd like to hold your hanami party - there are local rules differ from park to park (some have a curfew, some don't allow drinking or barbecuing, so make sure you know in advance).

>> Shrines, temples, and castles make a beautiful backdrop for sakura flowers. Some places also light up cherry trees in the evening for night viewing (this is known as yozakura).

>> Reserve your place early! It gets crowded quickly and in major parks, many people stake their area as early as the first train (around 5AM).

>> Make sure you know where the nearest bathrooms are, and the lines can be incredibly long with a huge wait time, so factor that in!

>> Bring a tarp or picnic blanket, cutlery, a garbage bag, and anything else you might need. 

>> Take your trash with you! Remember, in Japan most people take their rubbish home with them as there are few public bins. Cleanliness is an important cultural ideal, and littering is completely unacceptable (and fined heavily). You will also need to sort your trash as there are strict garbage separation rules!

>> Never damage a cherry blossom tree by pulling off flowers or branches.

>> As for food, it's customary to have a bento box lunch, and indulge in sakura sweets like hanami dango, sakura mochi, and sake. If you prefer not to drink alcohol, you can also indulge in sakura lattes available at many cafes! 

>> Make sure to bring some Japanese Yen (JPY) for street food, shrine visits, and anything else!


HANAMI FOOD | Sakura Sweets & Cherry Blossom Treats


Pronounced something like ee-tah-dah-kee-mas, this is said before eating as a way of giving thanks to both the person who prepared the food, and for the food itself. 

With that, let’s tuck in!


There’s nothing like sipping a cherry blossom frappuccino while watching pale pink petals fall.

If you’re planning to visit Japan for cherry blossom season, you can't skip all the delicious sakura-flavoured seasonal drinks, which can be found at most Japanese chain cafes, most famously at Starbucks Japan (which has a huge cult following for its cherry blossom drinks)!

This year (2023), the two sakura specialty drinks at Starbucks are:

Sakura Blooming Saku Frappuccino
>> Sakura-flavored pearl sugar strawberry frapp with crushed strawberry macarons and cherry blossom petal jelly
>> PRICE: Tall Only - ¥690 (around $8.30ish AUD).

Sakura Soy Latte
>> Fluffy whipped soy milk topping with a swirl of sakura-strawberry sauce, dusted with pink silver sugar and sakura strawberry chocolate shavings
>> PRICE: ¥550 small and ¥590 tall (around $6.70ish and $7.15ish AUD).

You can also get cherry blossom flavoured chiffon cake, sakura-matcha cookies and donuts, as well as limited edition merch ranging from keep-cups to notebooks.



Of course, one of the quintessential hanami traditions is to eat cherry-blossom flavoured Japanese sweets while admiring the cherry blossom flowers.
Here are a few of the most popular sakura-flavoured sweets!


>> SAKURA MOCHI - this comes in a couple varieties:

The Kansai version (popular in Kyoto and Osaka), which is mochi (sticky sweet rice) filled with anko (sweet red bean) and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf.

The Kanto version (popular in Tokyo), which is the same sweet filling and pickled sakura leaf, but instead of mochi it's more crepe-like.

These usually cost around ¥180 JPY (around $220AUD), and are easily found at either food stalls during hanami (cherry blossom festivals), konbini (convenience stores), or the bottom floor of department stores, which is where you can find lots of delicious, affordable bentos too!





>> SAKURA AGE-MANJU - this one is an Asakusa specialty!

Manju is a round steamed cake with a sweet (usually red-bean) filling. To make it Age-Manju, the manju is then coated in tempura batter and deep fried!

During cherry blossom season, Age-Manju comes in a sakura variety, with sakura filling and wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf before being battered. It's absolutely delicious!

These usually cost around ¥120 to ¥200 JPY (around $1.45 to $2.40AUD), and are found near Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo!





>> HANAMI DANGO – the quintessential hanami snack!

Last but not least, there's Hanami Dango! As the name suggests, these are inspired by Hanami (cherry blossom viewing), and are very popular in springtime.

They're made from sweet, sticky rice, and are set on a skewer in three colours - pink for cherry blossoms, white for the past winter snow, and green for leaves and heralding spring. Traditional hanami dango is made with sakura, white sake, and yomogi mugwort to colour the dango.

Like Sakura Mochi, these can be found everywhere (but the best are freshly made at stalls during hanami festivals!), and cost about ¥100 to ¥350 JPY (around $1.20 to $4.25AUD).



MORE FOOD | Japanese Must-Eat Sweet Treats



Sometimes called the king of desserts, parfaits are a beautiful tower of delicious desserts usually served in a tall glass.

Japan known for honouring the seasons and nature, and this shines through even with parfait desserts – white peach is popular in summer, sweet potato and chestnut in autumn, strawberries (including rare white strawberries) in winter, and of course, sakura in spring.

Don’t forget to also try traditional Japanese flavours like matcha (green tea), hojicha (roasted green tea), kuro goma (black sesame), and azuki (sweet read bean). Japanese souffle cheesecake is also a common parfait topper, as is Japanese Purin (custard pudding)!

The price for Japanese parfaits can vary depending on where you go – you can get mini-parfaits at konbini (Japanese convenience stores) for about ¥400 JPY ($4.85AUD) if you’re on a budget, or go to cafes for mid-range parfaits, which cost anywhere between ¥900-¥1300 JPY ($10.90 to %15.75AUD).

If you want to indulge in a dessert more luxurious, you can go to a specialty café or get a giant parfait for ¥2700-¥4500 JPY ($32.75 to $54.50AUD).




A sweet, sugar-crushed Japanese bread.

You can pick these up for cheap in Japanese konbini (convenience stores), or get specialty melon pan at the famous Asakusa Kagetsudō.

On Mt Fuji’s 5th level, you can even get a Fuji-shaped melon pan!

Melon Pan can cost anywhere from ¥128 to ¥200 JPY ($1.55 to $2.40AUD) depending on where you go.






Harajuku has a million crepe shops with a tonne of different flavours!

Some of the most popular flavours are matcha, cheesecake, and strawberry.

Harajuku crepes can cost anywhere from ¥300 to ¥600+ JPY ($3.60 to over $7.30AUD) depending on your toppings!







Japan is known for its funky flavoured soft serve ice creams!

Japanese regions often have a local specialty food, and the soft creams usually reflect this.

Some examples include wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park, wasabi in Shizuoka, sake, and more!

Soft Creams are also pretty inexpensive, and cost around ¥330 to ¥550+ JPY (around $4 to $6.70 AUD).





SHUUKURIIMU (Japanese Custard Cream Puff)

These are one of the most popular sweet treats in Japan!

Shuukuriimu is also known in other regions of the world as “cream puffs” or “profiteroles” and are a buttery choux casing with a delicious, rich custard filling.

You’ll find these in any konbini, or can visit Totoro Cream Puff Factory for a Ghibli-inspired dessert!

Shuukuriimu can cost anywhere ¥200 to ¥500 JPY ($2.40 to $6AUD).




BUDGETING | How Much Does Japanese Food Cost?

Food in this beautiful country is surprisingly affordable (when compared to food in Australia), especially when you consider how absolutely delicious it is.

Whether you're looking for a ramen lunch, a tempura dinner, or sushi, it's usually pretty budget friendly, with many meals priced at around ¥980 to ¥1500 Japanese Yen (roughly $12ish to $18ish AUD), plus perhaps a drink or two of course.

Some examples of Traditional Japanese Cuisine (and their prices)…

>> Washoku
(traditional meal comprising of lots of small dishes)
¥500 to ¥1500+ JPY, which is around $6ish to 18ish AUD.

>> Udon
(Japanese noodles)
¥500 to ¥1000+ JPY, which is around $6ish to $12+ AUD.

>> Okonomiyaki
(Japanese savoury pancake)
¥400 to ¥800+ JPY, which is around $4.85ish to $9.70ish AUD.

>> Ramen
(Ramen differs from region to region!)
¥600 to ¥1200+ JPY, which is around $7.30ish to $14.50ish AUD.
There are also a few vegan ramen restaurants around, especially in Tokyo, which cost around ¥1300 JPY ($15.75AUD)!

(Sushi trains are cheaper than restaurants)
You can find certain sushi trains for about ¥105 ($1.30ish AUD) per plate!


If you're really on a shoestring you can also just grab some delicious snacks at your nearest konbini (convenience store) and have full stomach with only a couple hundred yen (¥100JPY is about $1.20ish Aussie dollars).


And for the ballers on a luxury holiday?

Tokyo is the fine dining capital of the world, with 263 Michelin Star restaurants as of 2023. A tasting menu at a two-star or three-star Michelin restaurant in Japan can cost anywhere between ¥40,000 and ¥50,000 JPY (in Australian Dollars, this is around $485 - $605). If you're going, take me with you?


BUDGETING FOR JAPAN | Other Daily Expensies



While you're there, may as well splurge on a Sakura Latte! After all, these are only found in Japan during cherry blossom season. It's worth it!

Otherwise... you can always go for Vending Machine Coffee (it's surprisingly good!)
That'd set you back maybe ¥120 JPY (about $1.45AUD).







Water in Japan is safe to drink, so you can always go for tap water!

If you’re more of a bottle water person, it’s also fairly inexpensive at around ¥120 JPY ($1.45AUD).

Another option to stay hydrated is to instead go for a Pocari Sweat, Aquarius, or Calpis! These unique Japanese sports drinks are hugely popular in Japan, and cost around ¥150 JPY (about $1.80AUD).






More of a soda person? Well in that case, we'd recommend trying Japanese Melon Soda.

It's a unique, sweet flavour and found all around Japan! Grape Fanta is also super popular.

These sodas can be found in vending machines everywhere for around ¥150 JPY (about $1.80AUD).








Surely you cannot go to Japan without drinking some delicious Japanese tea - whether it be a matcha tea ceremony in Kyoto or a bottle of Royal Milk Tea from the vending machine.

Don't forget, vending machines can also dispense hot teas! Pretty phenomenal.

Vending Machine Tea: ¥150 JPY (about $1.80AUD)

Tea Ceremony: anywhere from ¥2,400 yen to ¥10,000 yen ($30 - $121AUD)




To get around, you'll probably have a mix of public transport and taxis.

Tourists should grab the Japan Rail Pass if they're doing lots of travelling across Japan, which gives you unlimited use for a set amount of days!

Taxi - budget for about ¥4090 JPY ($50 AUD) on a busy day

JR Pass - ¥29,650 ($363 AUD) for a 7-day pass.




CALCULATE | Your Total Japan Holiday Budget

Here’s a very loose guideline for what we would spend in Japan…

>> BUDGET: Around ¥6600 Japanese Yen ($80 AUD/day)

>> MODERATE: Around ¥12,380 Japanese Yen ($150 AUD/day)

>> LUXURY: Around ¥16,505 Japanese Yen ($200 AUD/day)

... but everyone is different! No two people travel the same.

It's why we have our free Travel Money Oz Holiday Budget Calculator!

You just punch in your holiday deets, some very clever robots do the math for you, adding crowd-sourced Numbeo* data from around the world with our exchange rates, so you know just how much holiday spending money you'll need to take.



Get The Japanese Yen (JPY) You Need For Your Holiday


If you’re visiting Japan, whether it be for the stunning cherry blossoms, the powder snow, the theme parks, or autumn leaves, we’ve got the Japanese Yen you’ll need for your holiday!

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All costs are based on estimated approximate costs from major metropolitan cities and exchange rates as of March 29, 2023. Average prices indicate a typical estimated cost you would pay for the indicated item. Prices may vary from time to time, and in different cities and towns within Japan.

This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.