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Hanami – Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan


The most familiar flower for Japanese is sakura (cherry blossoms). Every spring, people admire cherry blossoms and have a picnic party under the blooming trees. This picnic party is also called “hanami (cherry blossom viewing)” and it is one of the most popular events of spring in Japan. Starting from late March through early May, cherry blossoms across Japan will be in peak bloom in one region after another. Cherry blossoms in Kyushu start blooming earlier than other regions of Japan. The opening of cherry blossoms moves northward as time goes by.  Join Panda Travel ® in experiencing the beauty of springtime in Japan.

Arriving in Hakata, the heart of Fukuoka, there are many places to eat as it is a city famous for its ramen and yatai (street cart).  The open air food stands (Yatai) are possibly the city’s best known symbol. Yatai can generally seat about seven or eight people and provide an atmospheric outdoor environment to enjoy various foods that are generally simple and filling.Typical dishes to be enjoyed at yatai are grilled chicken skewers (yakitori), hot pot (oden) and most famously Hakata Ramen, a local noodle dish featuring relatively thin ramen noodles in a pork bone based soup (tonkotsu).

On our first visit we will visit Kokura, an ancient feudal castle town guarding the Straits of Shimonoseki.  The Cherry Blossom viewing spot will be at Showa Ike Park (Kokuraminami-ku).  This is truly beautiful park, circling Showa Lake with around 1200 cherry blossom trees spread around the lakefront.  Other sites include the 100-year old Tanga Market and Shin-Moji Port.

The next day we will visit Karatsu City, a castle town blessed with a variety of beautiful natural scenery.  “Karatsu” derives from the location’s attributes as an ideal tsu(port) for passage to Kara (the ancient title for Korea and China). We will spend the evening at The Hotel ONCRI and Hot Springs.  The Ryokans are an opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality.  Here you will be able to enjoy the onsen and a traditional Japanese dinner.

From the onsen we will visit Yanagawa where we will take a cruise on a donko-bune, a long flat-bottomed riverboat that is poled through shallow water, through forested areas, paddy fields and even residential areas while the boatman sings old Japanese songs to you.  He will remind you to duck when we pass under some low bridges.

The next day we will get to visit Kumamoto Castle, built in 1607 it is one of the most impressive castles in Japan as it is one of the few structures to survive the centuries.  With approximately 800 cherrry trees, this is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in late March and early April.  Next stop on the tour is Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan where we will be able to experience the ropeway ride (one of the first in the world to be built on an active volcano).

Don’t worry, there will be many chances for you to shop along the way and bring home some omiyage for your friends and family back home.

Hopefully, we’ll see you on this breathtaking tour of Cherry Blossoms in Japan.  Contact us at (808) 734-1961 for more info or email us at



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