On Location: Japan Cruises & Cherry Blossoms
The Land of the Rising Sun, steeped in tradition and lore, with ancient sites, hallowed temples and natural wonders appearing throughout this island chain, Japan is meant to be seen from the sea. Japan cruises will introduce you to the colour, culture and flavours of this beautiful country, both onboard and onshore, and will allow you to uncover the layers - both past and present - that make up Japan.
Touring Japan by cruise ship has gotten a lot easier over the last few years, as more cruise lines add ships, and more sailings, to this region. Been-there-done-that travellers, and those that are nervous about getting around Japan on their own, will be especially intrigued by a Japan cruise, as it offers a relaxing, easy and affordable way to explore some of the more off-the-beaten-path areas of the country.
You can cruise from Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe or Otaru (on the island of Hokkaido), with a number of cruise lines including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard and Star Cruises. Enjoy the serenity and rituals of Japanese "onsen" hot springs in Kagoshima or Bepu; explore Jigokumeguri, the geothermal wonder known as the "Eight Hells in Bepu"; feel the spray of Toyama's Shomyo falls, the tallest waterfall in Japan; or explore historic sites and trend-setting neighbourhoods across the country.
Whichever itinerary you choose to do, a Japan cruise is your chance to see several areas of Japan without having to worry about changing hotels or navigating the local transport system - a daunting prospect to many. A cruise will wipe away all of these hassles, delivering you to the doorstep of multiple destinations.
Cherry Blossom Season
If a Japan cruise is on your "to-do list", then you should definitely try go during Cherry Blossom season (April to May). When winter has subsided and the warm springtime breeze starts to appear, this is the start of Japan's most cherished time of year - cherry blossom season. This quintessentially Japanese event lures curious visitors from fare and wide, eager to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. Some of the best places to view the flourishing pink floral displays include Kyoto, Kobe and Nara, but if you really want to see the best of the Cherry Blossom blooms, Osaka is where you want to be. Osaka Castle Park offers a spectacular floral backdrop, and offers the perfect place to sip sake underneath the cherry trees.
In Tokyo, if you make your way out of the colossal city centre, you may stumble upon one of the city's many hidden green spaces, which, during Cherry Blossom season, teem with festive party-goers. Ueno Park is one of the best places to enjoy the floral blooms, as locals and visitors alike marvel at the eruption of colour whilst making the most of the street vendors selling tasty snacks throughout the packed parklands.
While you can't be guaranteed of getting a glimpse of this floral marvel, because the blooming time differs from year to year depending on the weather, here are some tips to give yourself the best opportunity possible:
- Generally, the milder the climate, the earlier the blossoms open - so on the southern, subtropical islands of Okinawa, the cherry blossoms open as early as January, while on the nothern island of Hokkaido, they can bloom as late as May
- In most major cities in between, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the season typically takes place in early April
- The cherry blossom season is relatively short - full bloom is usually reached within about one week after the first blossoms open. Another week later, the blooming peak is over and the blossoms start falling from the trees.
For details on what cruises are sailing during Cherry Blossom season, or at any other time of the year, call one of our Cruising Specialists on 1300 954 661 for the latest pricing and availability.
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