8 Of Tokyo’s Most Beautiful Sakura Viewing Spots
Explore The City's Best Cherry Blossom Sights
The temperatures are steadily rising, the winter coats are being traded for lighter jackets, and the buds on cherry trees will start to open in about a week from now on, meaning it will soon be time for our favorite Japanese tradition: hanami.
Literally translated as “flower viewing,” the hanami cultural ritual is so much more than just watching the pretty flowers. It’s an experience; a spiritual metaphor for the beautiful but fleeting nature of life; and above all, a chance to get outside and eat, drink and be merry under the cover of beautiful pink and white blossoms.
In the past, we told you about some of the top family-friendly hanami spots in Tokyo, but pretty much wherever you do it, hanami is an activity that appeals to people of all ages, which is one of the things that makes it so great. This year, the Tokyo sakura is expected to be in full bloom between March 24-28, so plan ahead and make your own sakura map along these stunning eight spots where you can see the blooms at their best.
1. Meguro River
This river’s location in a hip residential neighborhood, coupled with the way the trees drape over the water, makes for a stunning walk. Get there from dusk onward to experience the yozakura (night time sakura viewing) lit up by pink and orange lanterns. With 800 trees spread along four kilometers of the river, there are plenty of beautiful blossoms to enjoy viewing under the stars. This is also where the lively Naka Meguro Sakura Festival (April 8), a day dedicated to celebrating spring through live music performances and food stalls, is held. For more information on what you’ll encounter along the river, see this article.
Where: Naka Meguro station, main exit
2. Ueno Park
© Photo by Usodesita
Just steps from Ueno station, this park is filled with some 800 sakura trees, and when the blossoms reach full bloom it’s like walking under a canopy of sakura-filled clouds and cherry blossom snow. This spot rightfully draws a huge crowd of revelers and has many yatai, or food stalls, in the area, so bring your appetite. Stay into the evening as the flowers are lit up by the soft glow of lanterns.
Where: Ueno station, park exit
3. Sumida River
Close to Asakusa station and the area’s famous temple, the Sumida River cuts a swath through Tokyo’s historic shitamachi (old downtown) neighborhoods. A walk along the banks is a perfect way to see the sakura trees lining the riverside. Taking the water bus along the river is a popular viewing activity, too, but be warned that it gets crowded, so make sure to book your ride in advance. On the other side of the river, at Sumida Park, you can find yakatabune, or traditional floating restaurants. Enjoy the spectacular view of more than 960 cherry trees blooming along the Sumida River, with Tokyo Skytree in the background.
Where: Asakusa station
4. Rikugien Garden
A quintessential, traditional Edo period Japanese garden, Rikugien is also a splendid sakura viewing spot each spring. Its symbol, a 15-meter-high and 20-meter-wide weeping cherry tree, greets visitors to the park as soon as they enter through the main gate. Though this garden doesn’t allow wild hanami parties, the evening light-up starting from late March creates a magical and romantic sakura viewing experience. Admission costs ¥300 per person.
Where: Komagome or Sengoku stations
5. Showa Kinen Park
© Photo by Ajari
One of the largest parks in western Tokyo, Showa Kinen Park turns into an endless carpet of various flowers in spring—in addition to its 1,500 flowering cherry trees that make the park look as if it’s covered by a pink sky. Showa Kinen Park also hosts its splendid annual flower festival from March 24 through May 27. A beautiful venue whether you’re visiting as a family, a couple, or even on your own. Admission costs ¥410 per person.
Where: Nishi Tachikawa station
6. Tokyo Midtown
Sakura in the heart of the city is a dream come true for the area’s tireless cadre of office workers. During the cherry blossom season, Tokyo Midtown holds its annual “Midtown Blossom,” a wide range of hanami events with food, drinks, sweets and crafts. Take yourself out for a drink and some sakura-inspired nibbles at the outdoor Chandon Blossom Lounge (March 16-April 15) under Midtown’s 150 trees, which are lit up from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. This is the perfect venue for an after-work or late-night yozakura rendezvous.
Where: Roppongi station, exit 8
7. Yoyogi Park
Hanami doesn’t always have to be peaceful or romantic. If you’re after something a little more energetic, head to Yoyogi Park in Shibuya. At this time of the year, the park is filled with friends, college students and colleagues reveling in food and drink as they sit on ubiquitous blue tarps. The crowd is bustling and boisterous, invigorated by people playing silly and outlandish drinking games. A great spot to let loose with friends under the blooming sakura.
Where: Yoyogi Koen or Harajuku stations
With flowers reflecting in the water and sakura petals drifting away as the end of the season approaches, Chidorigafuchi is one of the most picturesque cherry blossom sites in the capital. Chidorigafachi is a moat located in the northwest of the Imperial Palace, and the park surrounding it has some 260 cherry trees of different species and colors, blooming along a 700-meter-long pedestrian path. Rowboats are available for those who want to take their sakura viewing experience to an even more romantic level. Lit up in the evening, this seemingly endless tunnel of pink flowers, a night sky and warm spring breeze creates a truly unforgettable experience.
Where: Kudanshita station, exit 2 or Hanzomon station, exit 5