10/03/2020

Tokyo Cherry Blossom Season: The most popular spots to see sakura in Tokyo

If it’s your first cherry blossom season in Tokyo, these are the places to be! Anyone living in Tokyo has been to many of the following places, since they are considered “teiban” - the usual! Experience the cherry blossoms the Tokyo way!


Table of Contents


What is Hanami?

Hanami means “cherry blossom viewing”. There are two main ways to do hanami - have a picnic under the blossoms or take a walk. Food and drinks are a big part of hanami as well. People will either pack a lunch or buy from food stalls that are often plentiful near famous hanami areas. Drinks often include alcoholic beverages; so bring your favorite drink of choice or buy something from the stalls to fit the season such as pink champagne! Another word to know for this season is yozakura - night cherry blossoms. Many of the following have light-up events during peak cherry blossom season, so make sure you don’t miss it!

Hanami in Tokyo: Picnic Style

Several parks that immediately come to mind as the perfect picnicking options for your Tokyo hanami party. Of course you can have a quiet picnic with friends, but often times, you will see people having enkai - a big party with friends. 

Ueno Park

Possibly the most popular hanami spots in Tokyo, this park has over 800 cherry blossom trees across the large park. Many people bring picnic sheets to save a spot and have a big party. The center walkway is full of people, both strolling through, and picnicking on the side. There is also a row of cherry blossoms that bloom along Shinobazu Pond so make sure you take a look if you’re in the area.

Ueno Park also has many different museums, including art museums and a natural history museum. It also has the very famous and popular Ueno Zoo. Enjoy the cherry blossoms with the cute animals! 

During the peak blooming season, over 800 lanterns are lit up at night so people can enjoy their hanami festivities until nighttime.

Admission: Free
Time: 5:00 - 23:00 (museum, zoo, park facilities and light-up times differ from park hours)

Inokashira Park

A large park found in the quiet suburbs of Kichijoji, Inokashira Park is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the cherry blossoms. The 400 cherry blossom trees heavily surround Inokashira Pond, creating a beautiful reflection in the water. The spaces around the pond are very popular, so make sure to get there early to grab a spot.

The popular thing to do is to rent a boat and row out onto the water. However, there is a myth that couples who take a boat out onto the pond will break up, so take your chances! The park is also popular to visit just after the cherry blossoms are in full-bloom to see sakura fubuki - the beautiful view of the petals falling softly in the wind. You can take the boat out onto the water to be surrounded by a pink sheet of fallen petals, another aspect that attracts the crowds.

Admission: Free
Time: Open 24 hours but hanami parties must end at 22:00

Sumida Park

Sumida Park is on both sides of Sumida River in between Asakusa Sensoji Temple and Skytree. With 1000 cherry blossom trees in total counting both sides, it’s a popular location for both picnics, taking a walk and riding the yakatabune - traditional Japanese cruise boats that include meals - on the Sumida River.  There are rows of food stands available, as well as a light-up event at night.

Asakusa and Skytree are nearby, so you can get in some sightseeing as well! The night view of the lit up cherry blossoms with Skytree in the background is a gorgeous sight. 

Admission: Free
Time: Open 24 hours but the food stalls close and the light-up event ends around 21:00

Yoyogi Park

Yoyogi Park is a popular park throughout the year due to its many events, such as cultural festivals, as well as its general accessibility. There are about 600 cherry blossom trees, and the center field area is the most popular to have a picnic. Yoyogi Park’s trees tend to bloom earlier than many in Tokyo, starting around mid February. While there’s no light-up event held here, this is a park where people tend to stay late into the night throughout the year. 

Meiji-jingu Shrine is nearby, as well as Harajuku and Shibuya. The park itself is a nice getaway from the bustling city. 

Admission: Free
Time: open 24 hours

Shinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen is a park with various types of gardens and a wide variety of plant life, making it enjoyable to visit year-round. In spring, its 1000 cherry blossom trees are a beautiful sight. There’s a large English garden with a wide open field space that is popular for picnics. Alcohol is prohibited in the park, so if you want a quieter picnicking experience, this is the place for you!

Admission: 500 yen for adults, 250 yen for students and seniors, free for children in elementary school and below
Time: Special hours from the end of March to the end of April - please check the website

Rules

Hanami is a great way to have a good time with friends. However, please make sure to follow the rules of each park and location. Pick up all of your trash and don’t leave anything behind. Don’t climb the trees or pick the flowers. And one of the biggest rules is to not cause trouble for the people around you. 

Hanami in Tokyo: Take a stroll

And now, to discuss the other popular type of hanami in Tokyo - taking a walk under the blossoms. And while taking a walk may seem like a leisurely and less crowded option, the crowds that these next few locations draws are quite the size.

Meguro River by Nakameguro Station

This is a spot that comes to mind for many people for hanami season. Cherry blossom trees line both sides of Meguro River and form an arch over it. Shops line both sides of the river, making it a popular shopping area year-round. However, during cherry blossom season, all the shops have food stalls out front, selling things from finger foods to pink champagne. While the idea is to walk and enjoy the cherry blossoms ahead, there are so many people that your stroll may be slowed down to a snail's pace. While stopping altogether isn’t encouraged, there are little pockets of space to stop and snap a few pictures before joining the flow of people again. Many people drop by after work to see the lit-up cherry blossoms, thanks to the hundreds of lanterns that line the rows of trees. 

Admission: Free
Time: Open 24 hours but the lights are turned off around 21:00

Chidorigafuchi

Just outside the Imperial Palace is a moat area lined with 250 cherry blossom trees. You can enjoy strolling along the outer edge of the moat under the arch of cherry blossoms. You can also enjoy rowing a boat on the moat as well. 

At night, the lights turn on and cause the cherry blossoms to glow, creating a beautiful tunnel of flowers above. The highlight of the night view is that from a certain point, you can see Tokyo Tower lit up in the distance surrounded by the cherry blossoms around the moat on both sides. This area requires lining up and there’s a time limit to get your best pictures, but don’t miss it!

Admission: Free
Time: Open 24 hours but lights are turned off around 22:00

Rikugien

Rikugien is a very famous Japanese garden in Tokyo. While it doesn’t have many cherry blossom trees, its main attraction is the weeping cherry tree. It is lit up at night, creating a mysterious aura with its flowing branches and delicate flowers. 

While it is a garden, having a picnic here is prohibited. The cherry blossoms and the garden are meant to be enjoyed while taking a walk. However, you can enjoy traditional Japanese sweets and green tea there during the day. 

Admission: 300 yen for adults, free for elementary school students and younger
Time: Usually the park closes at 17:00 but during the light-up event, the garden is open until 21:00

Rules

Because of the crowds of people, there is strict security at these events. Make sure to follow the flow of the crowd - usually there is a correct side of the path to walk on. Security will ask everyone to follow directions in order to minimize traffic issues; please heed their directions. And while eating is allowed, make sure to take all trash with you and don’t leave anything behind. 

In Conclusion

Check when peak sakura season is and head to these spots for a good time! You can choose whether to take your time and have a picnic party or join the festivities while on the move. Each area may have a different peak season as well as event times so make sure to check before you go!

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