©Photo by iStock: 7maru

Meguro River Cherry Blossom Walk

Tokyo On Foot

By Cheryl White
March 25, 2015

The excitement is already mounting all over Japan as national news programs and social media begin the countdown to where and when the first blossoms of spring will bloom.

Cherry blossom season is almost a national sport, with vested interests checking the forecasts regularly to plan their hanami (flower viewing) party on just the right day. It’s hard not to get caught up in the spirit of the thing as the days get warmer and the promise of more time outdoors looms larger. It would be a brave person indeed who could declare where the most beautiful sakura blossoms are, or where the best place to view them would be. It seems every person in Tokyo has her favorite spot. Mine is along the Meguro River, where I get my annual sakura (cherry blossom) viewing fix during a walk around the area.

Tokyo On Foot: Join My Meguro River Cherry Blossom Walk

Meguro River Cherry Blossom Walk© Photo by iStock: electravk
Wearing a kimono is optional, of course!

From Meguro Station, head downhill towards Yamate Dori. My first home in Tokyo was just nearby here, and this stretch of shops with their faded red lanterns and metal shutters never fails to make me feel just the slightest bit nostalgic.

If you time your walk to start after 10 a.m. you will find that these shops sell all sorts of plastic homewares and metal tea kettles, containers big and small for every possible domestic necessity.

There are also funky fashions, shoes that are endearing but a little shabby and, in my favorite shop, pottery in every hue of blue and white. You will be tempted to pick up a teapot or a heavy pottery nabe (stew) bowl here, so it might be best to pop back in on the return journey and save yourself the bother of lugging it around all day.

Meguro Shinbashi

Meguro Shinbashi bridge© Photo by iStock: taka4332

You will soon find yourself on the Meguro Shinbashi bridge, with the Meguro River, now hemmed in by concrete walls so that it resembles more of a canal, swiftly flowing beneath you. Looking upriver will give you one of those many breathtaking moments that occur in Japan. Both banks of the river are heavily planted with sakura trees. At this time of the year, they are brimming with petals that shimmer and scatter on the smallest of breezes. Walking along the banks is a delight. I usually walk the length of the canal until I reach one of the small bridges that cross the river. How far you walk is up to you. You can then return via the opposite bank. Alternatively, you can walk until you reach Nakameguro Station, and then return home from there.

Watch Out For Crowds

Meguro River in spring.© Photo by iStock: 7maru

Be warned that this is a very popular spot, especially on weekends. During the week it is mainly the elderly and the very young who sit beneath the branches and collectively sigh as a gust of wind releases a shower of petals called a hana fubuki (flower-blown snow). The youngest chase the falling flowers while the oldies halfheartedly try to catch a petal in their sake cups. It is a very lovely spot to linger a while either marveling at the fragility of these beautiful flowers or gazing at the forceful river, itself blanketed in pretty pink petals.

Nighttime Stroll

Cherry trees at evening© Photo by iStock: taka4332

Nighttime on the river banks is also a wonderful sight to behold—with red and yellow lanterns lighting up the pink canopy overhead. Vendors selling yakitori and beer make for a cheap and cheerful meal, for lunch or dinner. There are seats here, but a rug on the ground is the preferred way to participate if you have the time.

Now comes the difficult choice. Stay and relax under the branches, or head off to view the other delights of Meguro Dori. This is a short walk, so you could head in one of two directions to add some extra kilometers. In one direction there is a precinct of very interesting and beautiful temples. In another, an almost two-kilometer-long stroll through some of the best interior shops in Tokyo. Walking up one side of the street and then back to the station on the opposite side of the road will give you a seven-kilometer walk.

For today, however, the blossoms win. They are only here for such a fleeting time, after all!

The Deets

  • When to go: This walk is enjoyable at any time of year, but it is particularly lovely when the cherry blossoms are blooming (usually in late March to early April).
  • Map it out: To follow this walking route on a map, see below or click here to open in Google Maps.

Have you walked along Meguro River during cherry blossom season before?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.