Lonely Planet Writer

Experience Japan’s stunning cherry blossoms from a hanami cruise

There is nothing quite like visiting Japan during cherry blossom season. A unique celebration of nature’s fleeting beauty and a meditation on the passing of time, every year locals and tourists alike get swept up in the celebrations of spring. And if that wasn’t enough to excite prospective travellers heading to Japan, it is now possible to take a special hanami cruise to experience the flowers in style.

A girl with cherry blossoms in Japan
Visitors to Japan this spring can now experience the world famous cherry blossoms from a dedicated cruise. Image by Princess Cruises

Announced by Princess Cruises, the three Spring Flowers voyages depart in April, providing guests special access to Japan’s largest tulip fair, as well as a selection of picturesque cherry blossom viewing sites across five separate ports, such as the famous Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa. Leaving from Yokohama, the cruise takes guests across the Kanmon Straits to Busan in South Korea, Sakaiminato, Tsuruga and Akita in Japan before returning to the first port. Prices start at £570 (US$800) per person for a seven-day trip to five ports with an interior stateroom.

The Japanese-built Princess Cruise ship.
The Japanese-built Diamond Princess cruise ship. Image by Princess Cruises

The announcement also included new long routes leaving from Tokyo and Kobe in 2018, with trips that will circumnavigate the country while visiting the top-rated cultural ports. “We are honoured to bring guests more departures and visits to top-rated ports in 2018 than ever before,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “Through local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences to our purpose-made ship specific to Japan; our guests are sure to enjoy the most of this storied country at sea with Princess.”

The stunning Hirosaki Castle in Aomori Prefecture.
The stunning Hirosaki Castle in Aomori Prefecture. Image by Princess Cruises

For fans of fall foliage, speciality voyages will also depart in early October and November, bringing guests to regions of Japan that showcase the brilliant changing colours of the Japanese maple and Ginkgo trees as summer makes way for fall.

Cherry blossom season in Japan is one of the most popular times of the year in the country for visitors. Image by Princess Cruises

A total of 63 voyages are available on the Japanese-built Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 23 nights, with 38 destinations in seven countries, and the 2018 season runs from April through December 2018.

More information on booking is available at the official Princess Cruises website.