Visiting Japan during spring hopefully means you will be able to experience the bloom of the famous Japanese cherry blossoms (桜 sakura). In Tokyo these pink and white beauties typically bloom between late March and early April and since the season is quite short it’s good to know just where to go to experience the cherry blossom viewing (花見 hanami).
There are lots of free parks and areas to visit during cherry blossom season as well as some gardens with entry fees. Some spots are best for strolling under the trees and others are great for bringing a blanket (or blue tarp) and spending some time enjoying the flowers while eating lunch or snacking.
Many places holds sakura festivals and hanami parties with food stalls and night time light ups, everything to make the short period of cherry blossoms all the more special. Take a look at these 10 cherry blossom spots in Tokyo.
One of the most famous and popular cherry blossom spots in Tokyo is Meguro River, where about 800 cherry trees line the river and there are about 4-6 km of walking paths covered by the pink flower clouds. It’s extremely popular with both Tokyoites and tourists, so be prepared for crowds and queues! A tip to avoid the crowds is to stay away from the main stretch of river, at Nakameguro, and walk south along the river from Meguro station towards Osaki station instead. Nakameguro will be a lot quieter if you come just after peak season, and the flower petals falling to the ground and in the river is a beautiful sight.
Another very popular spot during hanami is Ueno Park, where blossoms typically open a few days before most other places in Tokyo. The streets in the park are partly covered with blue tarps – a sign that an area is reserved for a company or group party. If you’re lucky you might find a place to sit down. Otherwise just walk along the paths and around the ponds and appreciate the flowers. A great spot is the area around Kiyomizu Kannon Temple with beautiful weeping cherry trees.
Sumida River Park
Not far from the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is the Sumida River Park. There you can enjoy hanami by walking under the cherry trees with a view of Tokyo Sky Tree and the river. Continue north to the Taito Riverside Sport centre, and turn west to Sanyabori Park- a short walking park lined with sakura, away from the crowds. One of many hidden cherry blossom spots in Tokyo.
Koishikawa Korakuen was founded in the early 17th century and is one of Tokyo’s most beautiful gardens. Especially during cherry blossom season this garden is a very popular place to enjoy the sakura. Despite the crowds, it’s still well worth going since the grand old cherry trees in the garden are breathtaking! This is a garden (not a park) so you are not allowed to bring alcohol, blankets or sit on the grass. The entrance fee is 300 yen but it’s money well spent.
Your best bet if you visit Tokyo before or after the peak season. Shinjuku park boasts over 1,000 cherry trees of different varieties and there are both early and late blooming cherry trees. The dark pink variety of late blooming sakura usually blooms during mid to late April, but we recommend a visit anytime during the season. Bring a blanket and something to eat to the park, but don’t bring any alcohol since it’s not allowed. Even though it’s technically a park, Shinjuku Gyoen has opening hours and an entrance fee of 200 yen.
Chidorigafuchi Moat/Kitanomaru Park
Cherry trees cover the slopes of the Chidorigafuchi moat, just north of the Imperial Palace garden. It’s a real stunning view during spring time. If you feel like taking a closer a look at the sakura, rent a rowing boat and take a ride on the moat. Walking paths along the moat make for nice strolling and it’s also possible to sit down and have a snack. The nearby Kitanomaru park is also worth visiting to see sakura.
Yasukuni dori and Yasukuni Shrine
Not too far from the Chidorigafuchi moat is the controversial Yasukuni shrine, enshrining Japan’s war dead (including quite a few war criminals). Tokyo’s official representative cherry tree, used to pronounce the opening of the cherry blossoms, stands at this shrine. There’s also sakura festival events and despite the controversy it’s a beautiful cherry blossom spot. Cherry blossoms also line Yasukuni street, just outside the shrine grounds. This is a beautiful cherry blossom spot to enjoy the sakura in an urban Tokyo setting.
Another moat covered with sakura lies between Iidabashi and Ichigaya stations, along Sotobori street. With several hundred cherry trees planted along the Kanda river, the scene is beautiful. There are walking paths on both sides of the water. On the south side of the water you will find Sotobori park with benches and some open areas to sit and enjoy hanami. Boats are available for rent if you wish to see the sakura from the water.
A bit further from central Tokyo, Inokashira park in Kichijoji is a popular spot for hanami. Locals and visitors from further away come to enjoy the calm and vast park, while taking in the beautiful views of the cherry blossoms. Inokashira park is great for strolling along the paths and over the bridges of the pond. But don’t miss out on having a picnic under the pink fluffy trees. The swan boats, available for rent, are a cute addition to the pond. Inokashira park also houses the very popular Ghibli Museum.
Aoyama cemetery is a quiet and calm place to really appreciate the beauty of the cherry blossoms in a different setting. A slow walk under the canopy of pink flowers is a great way to de-stress and enjoy spring. It’s not allowed to bring alcohol or to secure a seat on a tarp or blanket. Please be respectful of the fact that this is a graveyard, not a park.
No matter where you choose to go to enjoy the sakura season, if possible try to avoid the weekends since these bring even more crowds. Also going in the early hours of the day gives you a chance to enjoy the cherry blossoms on your own. Living in Japan gives you the chance to enjoy the sakura season from start to finish.
If you are in Japan during the magical season of sakura, we hope that you will enjoy these cherry blossom spots in Tokyo and maybe come across a hanami party or two!