Take a day off from train schedules and see Japan as it can only be seen in spring: covered in flowers and filled with fresh fruit waiting to be picked! We’ve looked up some of the best (and most affordable) spring bus tours from Tokyo so that you can enjoy a relaxing day out without doing all the research that goes with it.
Spring makes its mark in Japan with flowers—like cherry blossom or weeping wisteria—and since nature needs space, the best parks are usually quite a trek from Tokyo. While most can be reached by public transport, if you haven’t got a car it can be time-consuming and expensive trying to reach them. Luckily, there are guided bus tours to take you from the streets of Tokyo to blue-covered fields with some bonus treats on the way. The buses leave from central locations, often in Shinjuku and at around 7:30am, giving you a full day out.
1. Cherry blossoms, snow (!) and strawberries
Shizuoka | ¥10,800 | Feb 10th – March 10th | Lunch not included
One of the earlier options, this tour allows you to enjoy the very beginning of spring, with some snow on the side. The first stop is the Matsuda Cherry Blossom Festival, where early-blooming varieties mean you can start the season properly. Next, you can try sledding and battle it out in a snowball fight at Snowtown Yeti, a ski resort on the slopes of Mt. Fuji. To re-energise, you get an all-you-can-eat slot at a local strawberry farm before a chance to try out the Mishima Skywalk—the longest pedestrain-only suspension bridge in Japan. The bridge offers views of Mt. Fuji, Suruga Bay and the Izu Mountains. More information.
The tour includes entry fees for the strawberry picking, but not for sledding, or the Mishima Skywalk (which costs ¥1,000 for adults). You will need to bring appropriate clothing for the snow experience. If cherry blossom has not yet bloomed, you may visit a plum blossom festival.
2. Spring flowers, strawberries and shopping
Ibaraki | ¥8,500 | Feb 22nd – April 19th | Lunch not included
Combine a shopping trip with seasonal blossoms on this tour, which takes you to see some of Ibaraki Prefecture’s highlights. You’ll begin with plum blossom viewing in Kairakuen—one of Japan’s top three gardens and home to over 3,000 plum trees. Later tours will head to Mt. Tsukuba plum blossom festivals, and in April tours will visit Hitachi Fudoki no Oka. Next, you’ll hit up a plum liquor brewery with tastings and a tour before a strawberry-picking session nearby. To round off the day, you’ll have free-time at Ami Premium Outlets—a mall with over 150 local and big-name stores. More information.
The tour covers all experiences including strawberry picking, but lunch is not included. This tour is only available on Tuesdays and Fridays. Unavailable on March 26th and 29th.
3. Ashikaga and Hitachi flower parks with strawberry picking
Tochigi | ¥9,900 | April 16th – May 11th | Lunch not included
Hitting two of the best flower parks in one day, this tour is a great one, as long as you don’t mind long stints in your bus seat.
Leaving Tokyo rather early in the morning, you’ll be taken all the way to Tochigi Prefecture to admire the famous wisteria of Ashikaga Flower Park. This garden, 111 miles away, has six species of wisteria and some of the oldest and largest in all of Japan. Grown onto canopies and tunnels, they have a variety of colors, although the ancient purple trees are the most famous.
Hitachi Seaside Park is a surreal sight in spring, with 4.5 million baby blue eyes (nemophila) carpeting the hills and blending with the blue skies. Located near the Pacific Ocean, the park incorporates sand dunes, forests and grasslands as well as their annual rotation of flowers.
The parks both have food stands and flower-themed treats like ice creams and drinks. The bonus on this tour is an opportunity to do some all-you-can-eat strawberry picking at a family farm—a treat since Tochigi is famous for its strawberries! More information.
The tour includes all entry fees and the strawberry-picking experience. No lunch is provided on this tour, but it’s a great opportunity for a picnic!
4. Fuji Shibazakura Festival and the Heavenly Tulip Festival
Yamanashi | ¥8,980 – ¥9,980 | April 20th – May 19th | Lunch not included
This flowery Fuji day trip features all-you-can-eat strawberry picking, which is a highlight to savour. You’ll visit the gorgeous Shibazakura Festival that takes place each year in front of Mt. Fuji. With over 800,000 shibazakura blooming in a variety of colors, you’ll be treated to some amazing views. The tour includes a trip to the nearby Tulip Festival in Grinpa, featuring over 210,000 tulips in more than 150 varieties. You’ll also have the chance to try strawberry picking, as well as do tastings of sake made with local rice and wine made with local grapes (Yamanashi is a wine-producing prefecture). More information.
The tour includes entry tickets for both flower parks and the fruit-picking experiences mentioned. The prices increase depending on which day you select.
5. Mount Fuji cherry blossoms and strawberry picking
Yamanashi | ¥10,900 | April 1st – April 20th | Lunch included
Killing two birds with one stone, this tour allows you to see Mt. Fuji framed with cherry blossom—possibly the most Japanese sight in existence! Taking you from Tokyo to spots near Fuji-san, you will visit Jinroku Sakura Park, where you can see 600 cherry trees, old trains and stunning views of Fuji.
Next, you’ll see traditional hina dolls at the Kanzo Yashiki folk houses before heading to Enzan for a lunch of sakura pork and crab hotpot—the local specialty. Erin-ji Temple, Kawaguchiko Lake and Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine may be on the itinerary, depending on the blossom schedule. Once you’ve walked off lunch, you can enjoy strawberries in an all-you-can-eat session. Last but definitely not least, Arakurayama Park offers a view of Fuji-san with the famous chureito pagoda AND cherry blossom—you might just pass out with the Japan-ness of it all. More information.
The tour includes all entry fees and the strawberry-picking experience, as well as lunch. Note: there is no vegetarian option available for this tour.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in March, 2018. Last updated January, 2019.
In our pilot episode, we're joined by Alvin Cheung of ABC Coffee, Hapnick, and Tokyo Keyboards