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Experience cherry blossom season around the world

Clouds of billowing flowers in every shade of pink add another layer of beauty to a seasonal city break. | By Joanna Tweedy | March 03, 2022

The arrival of spring offers spectacular photo opportunities during cherry blossom season in Japan and other destinations where ornamental cherry blossom trees thrive. Tourists from across the globe flock to Tokyo to experience cherry blossom season in Japan’s fabled floral window, known as Hamami, but Washington, D.C. and Paris can often rival it for bursts of color.

Some of our favorite ways to make memorable moments include:

  • Teppan feast: Dine on contemporary Japanese cuisine while admiring panoramic and flower-dappled city views during cherry blossom season in Japan

  • Snap photos of the Tidal Basin: More than 3,700 sakura trees bloom at this landmark during cherry blossom season in Washington, D.C.

  • Bienvenue à Versailles: See France's most regal palace with a colorful blossom backdrop while cherry blossoms bloom in Paris

Tokyo

The riot of color that erupts on Japanese soil has made Tokyo the world’s leading destination for sakura (meaning cherry blossom) sightseeing, with the locals just as excited by the annual displays as those who fly in to see them. In Japan, the tradition of admiring somei-yoshino trees, the country's most common type of cherry tree, dates back more than 1,200 years, with imperial courtiers once reciting poetry and enjoying picnics under their branches. These delicate flowers also unofficially usher out winter, bringing an upbeat mood across the Japanese capital.

While the season varies from year to year, late March and early April are the best time to descend. Conrad Tokyo, located on the 28th to 37th floor of the city's Shiodome City Center skyscraper, looking out over Tokyo Bay, has spectacular views of the city and easy access to places where you can witness the sakura magic with your own eyes. It's also a great spot for high-end authentic cuisine. The hotel's Kazahana restaurant serves sushi, kaiseki and teppan dishes in a sleek, contemporary setting.



Ueno Park is 15 minutes north of Conrad Tokyo by car. It is home to more than a thousand cherry blossom trees and serene ponds, historic temples, and a clutch of fascinating museums, including the Tokyo National Museum. Another cherry blossom beauty spot that should be high on your list is Shinjuku Gyoen national park. It grants access to approximately 1,500 trees and manicured green lawns.

For something a little more unique, head east across town to the pink cemetery in Yanaka. This pretty neighborhood is a vision of mazy streets, wooden houses and artisans selling their wares. There are around 170 cherry trees among the 7,000 graves in Yanaka Cemetery, and plenty of tourists come to wander among them during blossom season respectfully.

For additional tips on where to go during your stay, ask your Conrad Concierge to organize a sightseeing itinerary for you — it's the perfect way to explore the must-visit sights while also getting a one-of-a-kind local perspective.



Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry trees usually produce spectacular blooms — giant cotton balls of vivid color — toward March’s end, with the blossom lasting around two weeks. It’s a sight that harks back more than 100 years to 1912 when Japan gifted the city trees as a sign of friendship between the Asian country and the U.S.

There are cherry blossom bursts right across the city, often under blue skies as the spring weather warms up. The most famous spot to really savor them is the Tidal Basin, a peaceful reservoir fringed by more than 3,700 trees and sandwiched between the Potomac River and the Washington Channel. It’s the main site of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival (from March 20 to April 16, 2023), which celebrates the wonder of this spring phenomenon.

Checking in at the central Conrad Washington DC ensures you're perfectly placed to see both a city in bloom and some of Washington’s most iconic tourist sights including the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums. A 32-minute walk from the hotel’s doors on New York Avenue puts you at the Tidal Basin’s easy 2.1-mile loop.

For a unique way to end a day taking in a Japanese-inspired tradition, dine at Sushi Taro on 17th Street; this revered gourmet eatery is a vision of stylish dark wood with floral accents, and serves up a decadent eight-course kaiseki tasting menu.

Paris

The French capital, already one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, takes its aesthetics to another dimension in March and April. This is when floral cascades — the French call it cerisiers — start to appear across the city. It’s not just cherry trees, either. Magnolia trees offer up similarly eye-catching ivory and pink flowers at the same time.

Square Jean XXIII, a pretty park next to Notre-Dame that has long been a favorite with cherry blossom-seeking photographers, remains off limits as renovations on the city's historic cathedral continue. However, it should be on your to-visit list when it re-opens in 2024. The good news? There are many other vivid pockets of color to enjoy in Paris.

Close to a string of cafes and enveloped by Baron Haussmann’s famous architecture, a weekend stroll in fashionable Parc Monceau lets visitors be privy to a throng of beautiful sakura trees. The Jardin du Palais-Royal is another famous horticultural hotspot, and it is just a five-minute walk from the Louvre. The spring theatricals start in March with the magnolia flowers and reach a crescendo a few weeks later with pops of cherry blossoms. Unpack your own gourmet picnic or book a table at Palais Royal Restaurant, a one-Michelin-starred eatery under the arcades of the Royal Palace.

Versailles (45 minutes from Paris' center by car) is a delight at any time of the year, but this decadent palace and grounds — built in the 17th century by Louis XIII — is perhaps at its most thrilling in spring. Waldorf Astoria Versailles - Trianon Place, is enviably placed for exploring both the Palace of Versailles and The Grand Trianon. It also promises Michelin-starred dining, via Gordon Ramsay au Trianon, and pampering in the indulgent Spa Guerlain. The Arboretum de Versailles-Chèvreloup, on the royal estate, is among the best places to see the cherry trees blaze pink.

Make a memory under the cherry blossoms

Whether you’re feasting on Michelin-starred French cuisine in Paris, wandering down flower-strewn streets in Toyko or meditating waterside in Washington, D.C., traveling during cherry blossom season lends a rose-colored tint to all your vacation memories.

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Joanna Tweedy is an award-winning travel writer and editor who lives in London.

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