Cherry blossoms are a well-known touchstone in the culture of traditional Japan. And with hundreds of species of sakura found across the country, it’s easy to understand why – the practice of hanami, or flower viewing, in spring (the time of the year when cherry blossoms bloom), is one of the highlights of the Japanese calendar, and not be missed.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to catch this beautiful sight even if you cannot be in Japan this Spring. Cherry blossoms can be found in various countries, including South Korea, Canada, and Germany.
Two other countries that are host to this springtime phenomenon are the USA and the UK – these are the two nations on which we’d like to focus with the following study. We’ve used a variety of data points to find out which of each country’s locations you should visit if you’d like to see their cherry blossoms this year. These data points include:
- Average review score on Google Maps
- Instagrammability (i.e. hashtag popularity)
- Average number of sunshine hours
- Average amount of rainfall
Read on to find out which locations you should check out for your next cherry blossom viewing!
Let’s start with the United States:
The USA’s Best Locations for Cherry Blossom Viewing
According to our metrics, the USA’s best location for cherry blossom viewing is Los Angeles’ Descanso Gardens. With a highly respectable average review score of 4.7/5 and clear social media popularity with over 100,000 hashtag mentions on Instagram, it’s evident that this location is well worth a visit this Spring. In addition, the state’s large number of sunshine hours and comparatively little rainfall means you’re likely to have perfect weather whichever day you decide to go.
In 2nd place is Texas’ Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden. With over a hundred cherry trees in its Pecan Grove, the arboretum is an incredible sight to behold when Spring comes around. Despite an average rainfall over twice as high as Descanso Gardens, Dallas Arboretum’s strong average review score of 4.7 and the highest number of hashtag mentions of all the locations in this study makes it very worthy of 2nd position.
Meanwhile, 3rd belongs to another Californian location: the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego’s Balboa Park. While the garden isn’t hugely popular on social media, its strong average review score and glorious weather make it well worth a look.
There was an exciting spread of locations and states in the US part of our study. The state with the highest number of appearances is California, followed by New York in 2nd and Pennsylvania in 3rd.
Now let’s move on to look at the best locations for cherry blossom viewing in the UK:
The UK’s Best Locations for Cherry Blossom Viewing
The best UK location for cherry blossom viewing is the Royal Botanic Kew Gardens in London. One of England’s best known and best loved gardens, it’s no wonder to see it at the top of this ranking. The garden is hugely popular on social media and deals with less rainfall than many of the other locations on the list.
2nd and 3rd place also belong to London-based locations – specifically, Regent’s Park and Kensington Gardens respectively (both of which are mentioned extensively on Instagram and have great review scores on Google). Quite a few of London’s gardens and parks appeared in our rankings, such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (14th) and St. James’ Park (7th). Anyone who finds themselves in England’s capital this Spring certainly won’t be short on choice when it comes to finding cherry blossom.
Of course, London isn’t the only city to appear in this list. The UK has notable parks and gardens as far south as Cornwall’s Trelissick Garden (30th) and as far north as Scottish capital Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens (29th), as well as the Meadows (27th). The Welsh capital of Cardiff also had a couple of appearances with Bute Park (19th) and Alexandra Gardens (22nd).
To create the initial list of locations, we built lists of popular places to view cherry blossom in each country. To gather the individual data points:
- Google Maps was used to find the average review score of each location.
- Instagram provided the popularity of each location’s most popular hashtag, to show us which locations were the most Instagrammable.
- Several meteorological sites showed us the amount of sunshine and rainfall each location/US state had each year, illustrating which places have the optimal weather for cherry blossom viewing.
Any locations with missing data points were removed to ensure the accuracy of the study.
Once we had the data for each factor, we standardized their respective results using the following minmax normalization formula:
Result = (x-min(x))/(max(x)-min(x))
This provided every location with a score between 0 and 10 for each data point. These numbers were then collated to give us the final ranking scores.
If you’d like to view the full spreadsheet of the data, you can find it here.
Have you been to any US or UK locations with particularly beautiful cherry blossom? Let us know in the comments below!