Spring is a very fun season in Osaka. Lots of sakura (cherry blossoms) bloom and there are many beautiful places to visit. During this season, temperatures in the city are between 15 and 25ºC, which makes it one of the most ideal times to visit it. Similarly, in Japan both the school year and the work year start in April. Therefore, spring is a season full of new encounters, activities, and life. We gather here some of the best sakura viewing spots in Osaka and some of the most impressive events and festivals held in this city during spring.
Places to see the sakura
In Osaka, cherry blossoms usually start to bloom in late March and last until early April. During this period of time many parks and gardens turn pink and offer unforgettable views.
Nishinomaru Garden in Osaka Castle Park
In spring, this park becomes one of the best places in Osaka for the hanami (cherry blossom party), as there are about 3,000 trees. Included in the Sakura meisho hyaku-sen (“Selection of the 100 best places for sakura”), among its trees there is the one that serves as the criterion to make the “official declaration” of the start of flowering of the city. According to the experts, the Nishinomaru Garden offers the best angle to enjoy the beautifying views of the sakura and the castle. You have to pay a special rate to this area, but it is a really worthy visit.
Besides, Osaka Castle also includes a spectacular night walk called “Sakuya Lumina”. This is a fun-filled castle night tour. There you can feel the magic of the castle and enjoy every corner illuminated with vibrant night lights. What makes this tour different from all the others is that you can walk alongside a girl named Akiyo and her friends, Pulpo, Balun, and Mariposa. Together, you embark on a dreamlike journey to take them back to the future as you tour the castle. It is a must-do activity for everyone looking for a magical experience in Osaka.
Every year in mid-April, the 560-meter street from the Mint Bureau is open to the public for cherry blossom viewing. It just opens for one week. Therefore, this event usually draws a crowd of sakura lovers from across the country. Most of its trees are of the yaezakura variety, which bloom later, but the trail along the river has many other kinds of cherry blossom trees (over 130!). Admission is free and is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 9pm and on weekends from 9am to 9pm.
Expo’70 Commemorative Park
This sprawling park is home to the largest number of cherry blossoms in Osaka city. Walking through the more than 5500 sakura that are part of the park’s flora is truly overwhelming. Every year the “Sakura Festival” is celebrated during the cherry blossom period. There, dozens of food stalls lines up along the avenues of the park. This festival is an amazing place to enjoy, do hanami and try the most popular dishes of Osaka, such as okonomiyaki or takoyaki. Local and traditional craft stalls are also set up, and there are live shows where visitors can immerse themselves in Japanese culture.
Although it is not as well-known as the Sakura Festival, the “Plum Festival” is also a real treat to behold. Held before the cherry blossom season, this festival lasts about a month and revolves around the plum orchard of the Natural and Cultural Gardens (600 plum trees of 120 types), and the Japanese Garden (80 plum trees of 40 types). A multitude of events are also held, such as workshops, tea ceremony, a stamp collection rally and a miniature plum exhibit at the Senrian teahouse in the Japanese Garden. You can also try various plum sweets and drinks.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park
This place should be a must-see if you visit Osaka during cherry blossom season. Kema Sakuranomiya Park stretches for four kilometers along the dense cherry blossoms of the Ogawa River. Crowds of locals gather here in spring. In April, the wonderful views and mild weather make it an ideal place for a picnic or a walk.
If you are passionate about traditional Japanese festivals and you are visiting Osaka, then you are lucky, since many festivals in the city commemorate the arrival of spring.
Ishikiri Tsurugiya Shrine Spring Festival
This shrine, better known as “Ishikirisan”, is very popular among Osaka people. The stone path between the temple entrance and the main shrine called Ohyakudo Mairi is particularly famous. You can see two ancient swords called “Ishikirimaru” and “Kogitsunemaru” in the museum located within the shrine complex. These two swords are only displayed to the public in spring and autumn, during festivals.
Its spring festival, celebrated on April 15 and 16, consists of an ancient archery ritual in which God is thanked for the blessings he provides on a daily basis. This ritual is related to the meaning of the name of the sanctuary: “Tsurugi” (sword) and “ya” (arrow). Following the ritual, a ceremony is held in the archery field, attracting crowds of worshipers.
Nakami Shrine harumatsuri Nakami no Sato Spring Cultural Festival
Nakami Shrine is made up of a very particular architectural style, called “Sangensha Nagare-zukuri”. The colors that decorate its surface are vivid and rich, and are marked by delicate carvings. The details displayed on its structure were designed by local carpenters, roofers, painters and carvers. It has truly unique and impressive look.
The spring festival that takes place in this shrine is celebrated on April 29 and is held to pray for the abundant growth of crops, progress and peace for the parishioners. You can also enjoy various religious activities during this event, such as a Fujimi tea ceremony, a mini music concert, and an etegami paper lantern making experience.
Spring in Japan is a time of new beginnings and new illusions. Therefore, Japanese people know well how to celebrate the arrival of this precious season of the year. Undoubtedly the good weather that begins at this time of year invites you to contemplate the wonderful cherry blossoms and enjoy cultural activities with family or friends. It is an unforgettable experience that you will not be able to miss if you are in Osaka.