Japan is of course famous for sakura season when everyone goes crazy for the fleetingly pink cherry blossoms but that also makes it one of the busiest and most expensive times to visit. Luckily there are beautiful flowers to be seen all through Spring to Autumn, and winter foliage too. Here’s some of my favourites and you can see more of my Japan flower photos on Flickr.
Sakura / Cherry Blossom (March/April)
Okay, I can’t miss sakura out! Our first visit was in late March and we were a tiny bit early for the full sakura display but still managed to spot some. Plum blossoms also appear just before and are almost as pretty. If you want to see sakura, make sure to check the blossom forecast before you book and be prepared to travel north or south if things start sooner or later than expected.
My 2016 trip coincided with quite a few different flower festivals but the main ones were for roses, with amazing displays at Shinjuku Gyoen (at top of post), Yoyogi Park and Nagoya‘s Higashiyama botanical garden. There were hundreds of perfect flowers in every colour and everyone was going photo mad with total heart eyes.
Azaleas are considered a bit too boring for a festival but you’ll find them in lots of gardens and the hot pink flowers are so cheerful, especially contrasted with the green leaves. Shinjuku Gyoen had an area with hundreds of bushes and it was so pretty.
I was lucky to see so many different flowers during my May 2016 trip and especially this field of Irises. I managed to catch them at Koishikawa Korakuen on the last few days and take the same photo as the brochure cover! They don’t bloom for long and there were a lot of photographers out as well as a wedding party.
Hydrangeas / Ajisai (June-July)
On my last full day in Japan in early June the hydrangeas were just starting to bloom so I was able to add them to my collection. I think they’re so pretty especially alongside the monuments in the quiet gardens close to Sensoji in Asakusa.
There weren’t a lot of flowers to see during our second and third Japan trips in the autumn but we were mesmerised by these perfect chrysanthemums at Meiji Shrine in Harajuku. There were rows and rows of them, all in different colours but exactly the same size.
If you’re visiting Japan in the spring or summer, check for flower festivals. These are out in the countryside so usually require a train and a local bus but the reward is huge displays of thousands of flowers. The most famous ones are nemophila, shibazakura and wisteria but you can also see tulips, sunflowers and lavender. I’d love to do this sometime though they’re very crowded.