Top Hanami Sites Near Kobe

ByJustin Hanus
Feb 20, 2023

Top Hanami Sites Near Kobe

Spring is just around the corner, which means Hanami time is here again for many Japanese residents. Hanami means “flower viewing” in Japanese (from the Japanese for flower – “hana”), and, up and down the country, people gather together to spend time with each other and appreciate the beauty of the blooming cherry blossoms (“sakura”).

Hanami is a tradition that dates back centuries in Japan. Each region has its favored hotspots where groups organize picnics and small parties as they take in the season’s delights. There are several excellent Hanami spots around Kobe’s many parks and mountains that will be busy from around mid/late March. Here are some of the best places to head.

For information on when to plan your Hanami in the Kobe area, see here (in Japanese).

Sumaura Park

Located on the slopes of Mt. Hachibuse and with Suma beach at its base, Sumaura Park is a great place to see the cherry blossoms and splendid views of Kobe across the sea. It’s one of the most popular Hanami spots in Kobe, although, luckily, it tends not to get too crowded. You can take the ropeway cable car from Sumaura Park station and bask in the glory of over 3,000 cherry blossom trees and many plum blossoms. If you look out across the sea, you’ll be able to see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and Kobe airport. If you don’t fancy a picnic, the park has restaurant facilities and a kids’ amusement park at the summit.

For park information and map, see here.

Nishi Suma, Suma Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 654-0068 (google map)

Egeyama Park

Another park nestled in the mountains offers spectacular scenery. Egeyama Park is 85 meters above sea level. Its kilometers-long winding path stretches along the coast that brims with around 1,400 cherry blossom trees that bloom as early as mid-March. The park is only a 5-minute walk from Kamisawa subway station, and there is plenty of picnic space on the grassy areas. From most, you can take in the views of the flowers and the sea and watch the dog walkers and joggers go by.

For park information and a map, see here.

3 Chome−21 Egeyamachō, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 652-0043 (google map)

Okusuma Park

Okusuma Park has a stunning collection of cherry blossom trees and many other treats to savor. One of the best places in Kobe for biodiversity, the park also consists of a natural forest, seven ponds, terraced rice farming, water features, open fields, and an array of wildlife, including Indian Kingfishers and Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers. The park is a 15-minute walk from Myohoji station or a short bus ride from Suma station.

Wakabayashi, Tainohata, Suma Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 654-0133 (google map)

Himeji Castle

This six-story 17th-century white wooden castle in western Hyogo is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its grounds fill with visitors from across the Kansai region every late March and early April for Hanami. It’s one of Japan’s largest castles and has acquired the nickname of White Heron Castle (for looking somewhat like a white heron from a distance). Approximately 1,000 cherry blossom trees in the castle grounds are illuminated at night during the blooming season. Many Hanami-related events are held on the castle’s grounds, including the Kanokai – a sakura viewing party featuring traditional Japanese music.

For more information: See the Himeji Castle website.

More information: Why You Need to Pay a Visit to Himeji

More information: Himeji Castle – Japan’s Most Beautiful Castle

More Information: Himeji Castle: Too Big to Fail

68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture 670-0012, Japan (map)

Gokoku Shrine

Honoring the spirits of local war heroes, Gokoku shrines are located in most cities across Japan, and they provide serene sites for reflection and relaxation among nature. The park surrounding Kobe’s Gokoku Shrine is lined with sakura trees, bringing a lovely colorful glow to the historic monument during the cherry blossom season. This location has become a favorite for Hanami in Kobe thanks to the nighttime tree illuminations, which invite social gatherings to persist well into the evening.

4 Chome 5-1 Shinohara Kitamachi, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 657-0068 (google map)

Okamoto Minami Park

Shintaro Sasabe, also known as “the Sakura Doctor,” dedicated his life to preserving the Japanese cherry blossom. Okamoto Minami Park was built on the land that was once his home. In addition to making incredible sakura-themed artwork, Sasabe-san was an avid collector of cherry blossom trees. The park, now owned and run by the city government of Kobe, showcases these preserved trees of different varieties and offers information regarding each one.

6 Chome 6-8 Okamoto, Higashi Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 658-0072 (google map)

Oji Park

Oji Park is a multi-facility space with a zoo, an athletics stadium, a sports center, and a gallery. There are around 700 cherry blossom trees within the park. During the Hanami season, the zoo offers free evening admission allowing visitors to stroll the grounds while the trees lining its paths are lit up. You can reach Oji Park by traveling to Oji Koen station, a 3-minute walk from there.

For information, see the Oji Zoo website.

2 Chome-3 Ojicho, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 657-083 (map link)

Tips for those with picnic plans

One of the best and most popular ways to enjoy Hanami is with a picnic with friends or family. Many of the parks and venues permit picnics but make sure you check first to avoid disappointment. Here are a few other Hanami picnic tips:

  • Arrive early to grab a good spot. Top locations can get busy early, with the prime areas taken up quickly.
  • Don’t forget to bring a picnic blanket or mat to sit on.
  • Bring garbage bags so that you can pack up and leave things as you found them.
  • It is customary to take off your shoes when picnicking in Japan, so wear a pair that can easily slip on and off.
  • Respect other picnickers. Keep the noise down, and don’t touch the blossom trees.

Must have Hanami Gear

  • Picnic sheet (plastic tarp, bamboo straw, etc.) to sit and eat on
  • Thin cushion for sitting, or a small folding chair
  • Garbage bags
  • Warm clothes (nights get chilly!)
  • Paper cups, plates, and disposable chopsticks
  • Wet wipes/tissues
  • Bottle opener / Wine opener
  • Food (you can buy special bentos, or get whatever)
  • Drinks (drink what you like, but pack it out)

re-kuma [CC BY 3.0]

About the author

Justin Hanus editor