Sakura (Cherry Blossom) 2022?

Or, when should I travel to Japan after borders reopen?

I’m not sure about you, but I am literally frothing at the bit to travel again. The suggestion that Australia’s borders may reopen by the end of the year has me very excited. I am desperate to visit family in Canada. I am also longing for Japan in a very visceral way. My heart aches and my stomach yearns and grumbles when I think of Japan. This COVID lockdown and border closure is the longest I have been away from the country since I began travelling there. I seriously want to return.

What is going to happen when we begin to emerge from this nationally imposed period of isolation is unknown. Prices of airline tickets, flying capacity limits and any other number of questions hang before the wanderlustful among us principally without answer. I am personally so confused about the roadmap leading us to some semblance of normal, I feel I may be able to travel overseas before I can visit my mum, who lives 200kms away. I know that is ridiculous and it will not play out in that manner, but it feels precarious and completely unchartered.

Japan has become an increasingly popular destination for travellers, especially those from Australia. It is not too far away, a short long-haul in comparison to most destinations. Also, Japan is a wonderful place to visit. The culture is diverse from our own. It is a wonderfully easy place to navigate. It is an excellent destination for travel with children and teenagers. Catering to everyone’s interests and needs is simple to facilitate, which I find makes travelling in Japan less stressful and more enjoyable.

Many people dream of visiting Japan during cherry blossom season. This was certainly my experience when I first visited. I arrived just as the season started and travelled for a month. I saw a good deal of cherry blossom. I was travelling with my kids, one 14 years old and one 9 years old. They were not much interested in cherry blossom. (My youngest is currently 16 and now obsesses over it). They certainly did not enjoy the immense crowds. The crushes on the buses of Kyoto and the crowds at all the “unmissable” sites.

Having now travelled to Japan in every season, I would recommend them all, except maybe summer, for various reasons. Summer is quite oppressive. Especially in the cities.

I think there will be some element of people rushing back to travel after such a long hiatus. If you want to travel to Japan during cherry blossom, I would aim to either travel outside the common tourist routes, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. Alternatively, to visit those places with an awareness that domestic travel increases during cherry blossom and many things will be very busy and somewhat inaccessible. It is possible to avoid crowds by being a little removed from the main touristy areas. However, many of these places will be what you have come to experience. Additionally, Kyoto during cherry blossom is spectacular. If you are prepared for crowds, it is worth your while. The Keage Incline and the Philosopher’s Path are almost unbelievably beautiful in full bloom.

In conclusion, I have not really answered my own question. It very much depends on what kind of travel you want to experience. Post pandemic travel is unchartered and unfamiliar to us all. Will it be insanely busy or be limited, controlled and gradual? I am not sure anyone can answer this. I am hoping to travel to Japan is April. Post cherry blossom, but prior to Golden Week, the biggest movement of domestic tourists in the country. Next year Golden Week will fall between April 29-May 5. Let me know your opinion. How will this unknown situation unfold? Do you have travel plans for 2022? Are you excited or concerned about travelling? What will the post-COVID landscape look like for those who wish to travel next year?

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