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Sakura (cherry blossom) marks the beginning of spring. The sakura’s fleeting life span, analogous to that of human life, encourages us to infuse our lives with more future nostalgia. In order to do so, we are recommending some popular and more obscure hanami (sakura viewing) spots around Tokyo to be experienced with your loved ones. Make sure to check up on the sakura forecasts before confirming any plans and keep in mind that blooming periods can be unpredictable, particularly due to the acceleration of climate change.
A local and foreign favorite, Shinjuku Gyoen is home to an abundant 1,300 sakura trees, as well as the English, French and Japanese gardens. Being so vast, you can stroll through the numerous meandering paths to find the perfect spot to set up a picnic or barbeque under a blanket of sakura. A little less rowdy and crowded compared to Ueno Park, this may be a more appropriate choice for families.
9am – 4:30pm (closed on Mondays)
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku-ku
Station: Shinjuku-Gyoenmae or Shinjuku-Sanchome
Known as a hanami mecca since the Edo period, Ueno Park is still the most popular sakura season destination. The park is host to a cherry blossom festival — “Ueno Sakura Matsuri” — with several vendors selling classic matsuri (festival) food and drinks. Yozakura (evening hanami) is also made possible with lanterns lighting up the trees, granting continued drinking into the night. The park’s earlier blooming period and long opening hours make it an attractive and convenient place for everyone.
5am – 11pm
5-20 Ueno Park, Taito-ku
A little more romantic with the scenic view of the Imperial Palace, Chidorigafuchi is the place to go if you’re looking for a more intimate hanami location. The best way to appreciate the area is by renting a boat and paddling through the sakura lined waterways. This area also offers a dreamy, illuminated ambience at night until 10pm. As the trees start to wither, the moat is dyed pink with petals, making for another picturesque backdrop.
9am – 8:30pm (illuminations until 10pm)
Chidorigafuchi Green Way
2 Kudanminami, Chiyoda-ku
Located in the young and hip Kichijoji, Inokashira Park boasts an animated environment that entertains various activities beyond your classic hanami. Rent a swan boat and paddle around the sakura concentrated pond, then make your way towards the park zoo or aquarium once you’ve had your fill of pink hues. Make sure to check out the beautiful landscape from Nanai Bridge before heading over to a stylish bar around the area to cap off your day.
Open 24 hours
1-18-31 Gotenyama, Musashino-shi
The Meguro River promenade is arguably the most famous yozakura (night cherry blossom viewing) spot in Tokyo — and rightfully so. During the hanami period, the avenue hosts the “Meguro River Cherry Blossom Festival,” with drink and food vendors padding the walkways. The canals are lined with over 800 yoshino cherry trees and stretch over several kilometers, making for a breathtaking walk. After dawn, the Japanese bonbori lanterns leave a colorful glimmer over the water, so make sure to take advantage of the beautiful photo opportunities.
Open 24 hours
Lesser-Known Hanami Spots
This isn’t the typical hanami party venue, but for the more quiet, reflective afternoons. From the north to south of the centre of the cemetery there is a row of several decades-old sakura trees, as well as resting places of famous figures including Hachiko, Hachiko’s owner Ueno Hidesaburo, novelist Shinichi Hoshi, and Kokichi Mikimoto, founder of the Mikimoto pearl company.
Open 24 hours
2-32-2 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku
Yaesu Sakura Dori
With up to 100 sakura trees on either side of the street, a ‘sakura tunnel’ illusion decorates this avenue. This experience is best when lit up at night, as day viewings may not be as picturesque. Walk through the tunnel in the evening to enjoy the illuminated atmosphere, then head to the famous Nihonbashi Takashimaya for a spot of shopping.
1-6-3 Yaesu, Chuo-ku
Asukayama Park in the north of Tokyo is one of the oldest hanami spots from the Edo period — where sakura trees were first planted and hanami was ‘founded.’ This is a less crowded, more local viewing spot on top of a hill. The peak can be reached via a free monorail, that will make for a nice photo of the view of the city.
Open 24 hours
1-1-3 Oji, Kita-ku