Since the 17th century when Yoshimune Tokugawa planted sakura (cherry blossom trees) along riversides and on the edges of the city, people have wandered out to soak up this quintessential sign of spring. It’s eagerly awaited by the young and old alike, warranting regular mention on the nightly news as the blossoms sweep their way northward. Joining in is as easy as picking up some snacks, favorite beverages, and a part sheet—a.k.a. tarp—to lounge upon under the blooms. Here are a few Metropolis favorites to help you pack up and join in the hanami (blossom-viewing) fun!
Since 1737, visitors have flocked to this area to enjoy the blossoms. Nearly 2,000 trees offer plenty of space to spread party sheets and vendors are often on hand for extra treats. Do go early, though, as the 79-acre space does fill up. The nearby Tokyo Edo Outdoor Architectural Museum makes for good double dipping.
1-13-1 Sekinocho, Koganei. Nearest Station: Musashi-Koganei. Catch a bus for the park from bus stand #3 or take a lovely 15-minute walk.
Another classic viewing spot on Tokyo’s west side, Inokashira is home to nearly 400 sakura planted around the edge of the pond. The trees gracefully extend their gnarled and blooming branches overhead and out over the water, making this one of the most picturesque and romantic spots for viewing. Renting a swan boat offers another spectacular view of these blooms while they last. Stop at nearby Iseya for some of the best yakitori (grilled chicken) in the city as a hanami snack.
1-18-31 Gotenyama, Musashino. Nearest Station: Kichijoji. Head out the South Exit.
Set on a hilltop in the heart of Tokyo’s old shitamachi (downtown) area, the narrow paths between the moss-covered graves of this historical cemetery are lined with some of the largest and oldest sakura around. A wander here is a peaceful journey where cats doze in the sun and birds twitter safely in the branches overhead. A visit to nearby Yanaka Ginza for korokke (croquettes) or other local tasty treats is highly recommended.
7-5-24 Yanaka, Taito. Nearest Station: Nippori. Head out the exit for Yanaka Ginza.
Once home to Lord Naito’s private mansion and gardens, the site became a park just after World War II. The 144 acres are a mix of French, English, and Japanese gardens worthy of a visit any time of year. More than a dozen different varieties of sakura can be found here, and more than 400 of them burst into bloom in the Spring. The ¥200 entry fee for all this loveliness is a steal.
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku. Nearest Station: Shinjuku. Head out the New South Exit for a 10-minute walk. Shinjuku-gyoenmae is only a five-minute walk away. Park hours: 9am-4:30pm (last entry at 4pm), closed Mon (except during hanami).