Yoshino is the most famous spot for cherry blossoms in Japan but it is not overcrowded because the access is not so easy for people who live beyond Osaka city. Living in Tokyo, I had only one chance to visit this area but this is one of the most vivid memories I carry with me! Couples visiting Japan in a different season can also enjoy the peacefulness and soothing nature of Yoshino. On holidays in Japan? Spend a night in Yoshino or enjoy a convenient one-day trip from Osaka.
#1 spot for cherry blossoms in Japan
Yoshino is the most famous spot to enjoy sakura cherry blossoms in Japan. There are approximately 30.000 such trees in the area, some white, some pink. Walking in the mountains, the views are gorgeous all around. At the top, you can see many facets of the mountains covered with different colours, blooming at slightly different moments. I took a break at a ryokan traditional inn and got tea while looking at the landscapes through the transparent walls… It would have been wonderful to spend the night at such a place, and enjoy the view even on the evening and early in the morning with the sunrise! However, Yoshino area is so popular and the rooms so few that it is almost impossible to secure a reservation during the “sakura” cherry blossoms season. This is why I came by train from another big city that day to enjoy the view and the ambiance. The good thing though with the fact that Yoshino is difficult to access from other areas of Japan is that Yoshino does not get too crowded during the cherry blossoms season 🙂
In addition to the cherry blossoms, I enjoyed a few holy sites including Kinpusen-ji Buddhist temple with its three 1300 year-old blue guardian statues, and savoured local food. My girlfriend and I took different paths on the way in and on the way out. As a consequence, we enjoyed a sinuous walk among cherry trees in full bloom at the end of our day! The day was ending but we kept on gettig more and more happy! We took a few photos but the memories that stay in us are much more exciting; I think I well never forget my time there!
Beyond cherry blossoms
The mountains of Yoshino get very green after the cherry blossoms, and the view becomes very peaceful. There are maps so you should not get lost; relax and enjoy the moment! Following the main path, you will see several Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines with interesting architecture (check Yoshimizu Shrine!). Check them out; the interior design is surprising for most Europeans and Americans! Along with Mount Koya, this area has been designated World Heritage by UNESCO for its holy aspects so you can expect to feel that the roots of the temples here are ancient and strong!
Globally, you will feel you have arrived in the real Japan, with the best of what you saw on posters and photos, except maybe for the geisha as you will not see many of them around 🙂 In autumn, you can enjoy yellow, orange and red leaves in the mountains, beside small shops, or at the entrance of traditional inns. November is thus also a good period to visit Yoshino; I would love to enjoy the sights from a rotemburo outdoor hot spring during this colourful period… Finally, one of the local foods you should try is sushi wrapped in a persimmon leave, called Kakinoha Sushi!
You can easily access Yoshino by train from Osaka city. If your hotel is well-located, you can ride a direct train on the Yoshino line of the Kintestu railway company, starting at Osaka-Abenobashi. If you do not suffer too much from jetlag, take a train early to arrive in the area before most other people and make the best of your visit of Yoshino hand in hand! You will arrive in 90 minutes and the cost of your ticket will only be 970 yen per person (one-way).
If you plan to visit Yoshino but have not chosen your hotel yet, consider reserving a room in Osaka near Osaka-Abenobashi station. Tsuruhashi station and Ue-hommachi station are also good candidates, not far from a convenient train station to come from Kansai International Airport and convenient to go to Yoshino!
Yoshino Ropeway is very close to Yoshino train station, costs only 360 yen, and has four departures per hour. If you arrive late during the cherry blossoms seasons, you may have to wait so much to ride the Yoshino Ropeway that it makes more sense to walk up, and use Yoshino Ropeway only on your way down at the end of the day!