For those travelling to Japan after the main rush, cherry blossoms are still an option — you’ll just need to head north to find them.
Hokkaido’s blossoms begin around late April and usually reach full bloom in the early days of May. Sometimes they’ll even stick around until late May, although this is getting rarer as the blossom front gets earlier each year.
Hakodate, Sapporo and Asahikawa are all great spots for blossom-viewing, though you’ll find cherry trees throughout the island (along with an abundance of tulips and shibazakura, though the famous fields of central Hokkaido bloom closer to July and August).
While first-time visitors probably won’t plump for Hokkaido over Honshu’s more classic sights, Japan’s northern island has charms aplenty for the more seasoned adventurer.
It’s worth noting that the blossoms in western Hokkaido coincide with Japan’s ‘Golden Week’ glut of national holidays, which generally fall between 29 April & 5 May. It’s a very (very, very) busy period, and while the crowds won’t necessarily ruin your trip, we usually advise that you avoid it if you can. Further into May, if you’re up for self-driving, eastern Hokkaido sees some of the last cherry blossoms in Japan, and barely any foreign tourists.