Atami sakura are among the earliest cherry blossoms to bloom in Japan. While Japan’s main cherry blossom season starts in March, in early February you can get a preview of Japan’s sakura season in Atami, a quiet town just south of Tokyo!

In fact, February just might be the perfect time of year to get a preview of Japan’s famous cherry blossom season. Here’s all about when and where to see these gorgeous early bloomers!

Atami Sakura: Early Cherry Blossoms That Bloom in February

While the majority of Japan’s cherry blossoms tend to bloom in mid to late March, there are varieties that favor opening their flowers at the end of winter, when it’s still cold outside.

Atami, a quiet coastal town about 90 minutes south of Tokyo (or 44 minutes via Shinkansen bullet train), is well known for its many onsen hot springs, and given its proximity to Tokyo it is a popular weekend destination for many looking to relax in the natural hot waters.

In February, it becomes a destination of choice for flower lovers, with plum blossoms opening in early-to-mid February. The Atami Sakura cherry blossoms open in late January/early February – around February 4 in recent years. The blossoms remain in bloom for around 10 days or so, drawing crowds of eager tourists.

Where Can I See Atami Sakura?

The promenade along the small Itogawa River is about a 10-minute walk down from Atami Station. Here you’ll see 58 trees planted on either side along the street, making for a lovely pastel-pink canopy that runs for around 300 meters. While called a river, the Itogawa is more of a picturesque stream that meanders down to the ocean.

On either side of the river are a variety of small restaurants, shops, and bars, and on the weekends, you might catch some of the local merchants selling drinks and snacks outdoors.

When is the Best Time to See Atami Sakura?

Now you might wonder what time of day is best to catch the gorgeous sakura, and the fact is that you can enjoy them at pretty much all time of day. While you can enjoy tea service and other events nearby from 10am to 3pm, the river and its view is open around the clock.

From morning until early afternoon, you will likely see flocks of energetic mejiro – Japanese white eyes – flitting from flower to flower in search of delicious nectar, their excited peeps drawing crowds of shutterbugs hoping for a shot of these shy birds.

And from around 3-3:30pm, the angle of the sun will bring on ‘golden hour’ – when the light pink of the flower petals will pop against the blue hues of the sky, making for dramatic images.

As evening d…

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