Every Spring, the world flocks to Japan for hanami (the act of cherry blossoms appreciation). The city will be coloured pink; cherry and plum blossom trees line the streets and the entire city is magically transformed into a flower paradise.
Tokyo, in particular, plays host to a big crowd of visitors from all over the world who bask in the beauty of the blooms. It is a phenomenal experience, and it is a sheer sight to behold. One cannot simply rely on pictures to see the beauty; being in Japan for hanami is essential to take in all the beauty and to witness the splendour of Spring.
There are many spots in Tokyo for hanami, and as much as there will be crowds, it will be worth your while. So if you’re heading to Tokyo this Spring, here are some popular spots where cherry blossom trees can be found in abundance.
SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN
This is undisputedly the most popular cherry blossom destination in Tokyo where cherry blossom trees can be seen at every corner. There is an entrance fee but it will be well worth the money spent.
Within Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, there are different types of sakura trees, and in Spring, the whole park is livened up with pinks of different hues. It is also a common spot for picnics and photoshoots.
Just farther up from Meiji-jingu is Yoyogi Park, another crowded cherry blossom spot during Spring because the locals love having picnics under the sakura trees. Expect over 600 sakura trees that boast mainly pale pink blooms. Food stands are also available within the park so you don’t have to bring your own.
Photo Credit: Tokyo in Pics
Do not be spooked; this cemetery is actually a calm sanctuary and during Spring, it actually gets pretty crowded so you’d never be alone. There are hundreds of cherry blossom trees lining the straight road that cuts through the cemetery.
It is, after all, a graveyard so be mindful of your activity and noise level here. The locals usually keep their hanami activities quiet so as to respect the dead.
Ueno Park is a family-friendly park in Tokyo that has more than just sakura. There is a whole row of street stalls where you can get a variety of Japanese snacks such as crab sticks, grilled octopus, takoyaki etc.
At the end of the park is a small pond where you can rent boats in the shape of swans. You’d see families peddling the boats and the kids really do love the sight of “swans” in the ponds against the hundreds of sakura trees!
This is our favourite spot for hanami in Tokyo. Chidoriga-fuchi used to be pretty under the radar, but in recent years, it has gained popularity mainly from its boat rental. You might have seen pictures of people on the iconic blue boat, riding through the river that’s densely lined with sakura trees on both ends. It is a magnificent sight and we always return to this spot when we find ourselves in Tokyo for Spring. Be prepared to wait in line for hours for the boat, though.
Hanami doesn’t stop there. Take a stroll in the park where you find even more sakura trees, many of which are weeping kind where the cherry blossoms hang really low, making it the perfect backdrop for your selfies. But please do not pluck the flowers!
Photo Credit: Toshiro Gamo
Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Japan’s most popular traditional Japanese landscape garden. It was built in the early Edo period (1600-1867). Koishikawa is the district in which the garden is located in, and the garden was named ‘Korakuen’ after a poem encouraging a ruler to enjoy pleasure only after achieving happiness for his people.
The garden features several early blooming weeping cherry trees around the garden’s entrance gate, most prominently a weeping cherry blossom tree that blooms a few days earlier than all the other trees.
Photo Credit: Ambassadors Japan
Asakusa is another extremely popular spot in Tokyo for hanami. The landmark Senso-ji has sakura trees lining the front of its Hozomon Gate at Nakamise Street. It is not uncommon to see locals strolling the streets of Asakusa in their kimonos. If you’d love to don one, there are several rental shops in the vicinity too.
With Tokyo Sky Tree just behind Asakusa, you can also get photos of cherry blossoms “draping” the famous Tokyo tower.
Photo Credit: Good Luck Trip Japan
Farther up from Asakusa is Sumida Park, a common spot for hanami for visitors to Asakusa. Sumida Park stretches for a few hundred meters along both sides of Sumida River and hanami can also be enjoyed from boats that cruise the river.
Food stands are also available within Sumida Park.
This is another perennial favourite of ours. Meguro River is exceptionally stunning both in the day and at night, with more than 800 trees lining the canal that stretches a few hundred meters. The trees will all light up when night falls.
There isn’t a designated spot for hanami but there are many “intervals” along the canal where you can stop for photos.
Photo Credit: JW Web Magazine
This hilltop public park is one of Tokyo’s oldest hanami spots. It is extremely popular among locals and today, several hundred trees dot the park, hence creating many picnic spots.
The trees here also light up in the evening.