Spring has sprung, and soon the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom! Sakura blossoms symbolize many things, especially for students and teachers. The bittersweet ending of a school year when graduates move on, students change classrooms, and teachers are transferred to new schools. The excitement of a new beginning or a fresh start in a new place. All overshadowed by the fleetingness of the sakura blossoms, reminding us to enjoy things while we can, for nothing lasts forever.
What better way to celebrate these occasions than by picnicking in the park with friends and family? Late March to early April is hanami time in Miyazaki, and you’ll be sure to see parks and public spaces filled with revelers enjoying the season. Picnics, drinking, festivals, and games are all quite common hanami events. Be sure to get your fill before the blossoms disappear! Before you go, there are a few things you should know:
- Respect the environment. Do not cut off the branches or spread plastic mats over the roots of the trees. Be sure to take your trash home with you.
- Respect other people and private property. Do not disturb other visitors or residents who live near the cherry trees. Do not enter someone’s yard without permission.
- Check that hanami is allowed at the place you’d like to go. Some places are fine to visit and take pictures, but drinking and picnicking may not be allowed.
Now that you’re ready for a hanami, where should you go? Well, anywhere with cherry blossoms is perfect for a hanami (so long as you know it’s allowed!), but some places are better than others. Listed below are the favorite cherry blossom-viewing sites of JETs and other Miyazaki residents in every corner of the prefecture. Be sure to check them out, and let us know if you discover any other secret gems!
AMAGAJO PARK 天ケ城公園
Surrounded by cherry trees and azalea blossoms, this park is the perfect place to escape the daily grind. Enjoy a picnic in the sun, playing a round of mini gold, or taking a ride down the giant roller slide! The Museum of History and Folklore is located inside a reconstructed castle. Nearby Urita Dam is a secret nook filled with cherry blossoms as well. The lanterns at sunset and colorful nighttime illuminations are well worth spending a day there. After your hanami antics, you can also enjoy a dip in the Takaoka Onsen. The Amagajo Sakura Festival runs from March 18th to April 9th.
Location: 〒880-2321 Miyazaki-ken, Miyazaki-shi, Takaokachō Uchiyama 30003 (map)
HANATATE PARK 花立て公園
Hanatate Park is Nichinan’s best cherry blossom site! The mountainside is covered in flowering trees and boasts many wonderful picnic spots for a pleasant afternoon. Or, stop by in the evenings for a walk beneath the illuminated blossoms. Visit the park any time from late March through early April, but especially check out the festival when food, performances, and local goods will be available. The Hanatate Sakura Festival runs from March 25th to April 9th.
Location: 〒889-2402, Kitagocho Gonoharako, Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture (map)
JOuSENJI’S WEEPING CHERRY TREE 浄専寺のしだれ桜
Gokase has three famous weeping cherry trees, each of which has been declared a natural monument, and range in age from 250-300 years old. Two of these trees are at private residences, but the third and oldest can be found at Jousenji Temple. The temple was built in 1615, and its 300 year-old weeping cherry tree has been established as a cultural monument. Hanami parties are forbidden at Jousenji, but you can visit the temple to walk around and take pictures. The tree is also illuminated from sunset to 9pm.
Location: 8701 Sankasho, Gokase, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki Prefecture 882-1203 (map)
Kamiyone Park 上米公園
Located in Mimata, Kamiyone Park is a very popular hanami spot with the locals. The cherry blossoms surround a small lake providing a pleasant atmosphere both day and night. The Sakura Festival is held from mid-March through early April.
Location: 〒889-1901 Miyazaki-ken, Kitamorokata-gun, Mimata-chō, Kabayama (map)
Maizuru Park 舞鶴公園
The site of Takanabe’s famous lantern festival in October is transformed by sakura in the spring! Spend a quiet afternoon picnicking under the trees, or enjoy drinks in the evening beneath the illuminated blossoms. The Maizuru Park Sakura Festival will be held from 10am to 3pm on Sunday, March 26th, weather depending. While this event is only a one-day affair, you can hanami at Maizuru any time during the season!
Location: 〒884-0006 宮崎県児湯郡高鍋町大字上江 (map)
Mochio Park 母智丘公園
Mochio Park in Miyakonojo is listed as one of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom-viewing sites, and for good reason! A street lined with sakura trees leads you through a long tunnel of blossoms up before taking you to the park, where even more trees surround a large open area perfect for picnics and festival events. The Mochio Park Sakura Festival runs from March 24th to April 2nd. MAJET is also hosting a hanami picnic on March 25th.
Location: 〒885-0091 Miyazaki-ken, Miyakonojō-shi, Yokoichichō (map)
* Google Maps has romanized Mochio Park as “Hahatomooka Park.” 😉
Saitobaru Memorial park 特別史跡公園 西都原古墳群
Saitobaru is another beautiful hanami spot. The contrast of the pale cherry blossoms against fields of bright yellow rapeseed flowers is a sight to behold. The park has many wide open spaces for picnicking, and you’re sure to meet some friendly locals! While the flowers will be in bloom from late March through early April, the Saitobaru Sakura Festival only runs on March 25th and 26th.
Location: Miyake, Saito, Miyazaki Prefecture 881-0005 (map)
SHIIbae PARK 椎八重公園
During most of the year, this little park in Mimata might escape your notice, but during sakura season it explodes with pink cherry blossoms and red azaleas! Enjoy a pleasant walk through the gardens or a picnic on the observation deck. The Azalea Festival is held from early to late April.
Location: 〒889-1911 Miyazaki-ken, Kitamorokata-gun, Mimata-chō, Nagata, 5515 (map)
SHIROYAMA PARK 城山公園
Sprawling over the ruins of Nobeoka Castle, Shiroyama Park is a great place to combine a picnic with a light hike surrounded by beautiful scenery. During the festival, a variety of performances and events entertain visitors to the park. The Shiroyama Sakura Festival runs from March 18th to April 8th.
Location: 178 Higashihonkōji, Nobeoka-shi, Miyazaki-ken 882-0813 (map)
Darumizu is a popular hanami spot in Miyazaki City. Cherry trees cover the hillside and line the streets, creating a pleasant atmosphere for picnics and outdoor games. During the festival, the park is illuminated from sunset to 10pm. The Darumizu Sakura Festival runs from March 18th to April 8th.
Location: 〒880-0344 宮崎県宮崎市瓜生野下畑5719 (map)
While more famous for autumn leaves, Kirishima Shrine is just as beautiful in the springtime when cherry blossoms surround the complex. Enjoy a pleasant walk to the shrine while reveling in the mythological origins of Japan.
Location: 〒899-4201 Kagoshima-ken, Kirishima-shi, Kirishimataguchi, 2608−5 (map)
Kumamoto Castle 熊本城
Kumamoto Castle is well-known for its beautiful cherry blossoms. As Kumamoto is still recovering from the earthquake last year, any tourism they get is beneficial. So, why not make a weekend trip over to our western neighbor and enjoy a peaceful afternoon in the castle park?
Location: 1-1 Honmaru, Chuo Ward, Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture 860-0002 (map)
* Photos submitted by Katie Alonso, Aurian Eghbalian, Jo Gwinnet, Beth Harven, and Louise Truan