It is coming close to that time of year again… Our favourite time in Japan, cherry blossom, or as known by the Japanese as sakura. Everything is already starting to be sakura themed; Danone yoghurts, biscuits, cakes, fish cooked in sakura, sakura ice cream. We love it. After having experienced about 12 different years of cherry blossom in Tokyo, we thought we would write down our favourite places and we hope they might turn into your best liked sakura spots in Tokyo!
A stop away from Ebisu, on the hibiya line, the residential area of Naka-Meguro boasts a little river lined with cherry blossom trees on both sides.
In the evenings they have little lanterns lighting the trees around the river. Restaurants are busy, if you plan on eating in a restaurant overlooking the river, either pre-book a table or be prepared to wait for a while. Otherwise, the river sides have food and drink stalls and people are standing on the bridges, enjoying their food and drinks and having a good time. As sakura is a light pink or pinkish colour, drinks are themed to fit in with the cherry blossoms. Pink sparkling wine stalls are set up by the river.
It is worth buying a pink sparkly drink and be part of the Japanese cherry blossom hype. Naka-Meguro is definitely one of our most recommended spots to go and see the blossoms.
Another one of the top cherry blossom viewing spots on our list is Chidorigafuchi. The closest station is Kudanshita, alternatively, Hanzomon is not too far away either. Chidorigafuchi is a moat located at the north-west side of the imperial palace of Tokyo.
The river is lined with cherry blossom trees on either side of it. Plus, looking down to the other end of the moat you have a great view of the Japanese equivalent of the Eifel Tower-the Tokyo Tower.
Renting a rowing boat and paddling along the water past the cherry blossom trees is a great way to see the sakura, but be aware, this is Japan, don’t be late returning your boat. Don’t be put off by the sometimes long queues, they tend to go quite quickly.
Right next to Chidorigafuchi you find the Yasukuni Shrine, a Shinto shrine in the heart of Tokyo. It is a 5 – minute walk from Chidorigafuchi to this shrine and so worth having a look at. Cherry blossom trees line the pathway to the shrine.
And while you are already there take a look at the courtyard filled with food and drink stalls, and sit down with a beer and a grilled fish, while sitting underneath the blossom trees.
Probably one of the most well-known places for cherry blossom viewing, Ueno Park. It is just outside of the Ueno Park Jr station. If you go here, bring your own food and drink (pick up a bento box from one of the many combinis in Tokyo), as Ueno Park provides mats placed underneath the trees for anyone to sit and have a hanami (picnic).
It can get very crowded at Ueno Park, but definitely worth a visit. If you venture out around Ueno Park you stumble across another temple with a pond. Once again it is possible to rent boats on this pond (though we would recommend keeping that for Chidorigafuchi). As with all other places and anywhere that has sakura viewing spots, the temple surroundings have food and drink stalls.
Our next recommendation is the Sumida River. The closest station is Asakusa. Sumida River is close to Tokyo’s famous Asakusa Temple. If you only have time for one or two places, we would recommend going to one of the above, but if you have a lot of time, this place is great for a walk under the cherry blossom trees and for good pictures of the sakura with the Tokyo Sky Tree. It is also possible to get a boat tour down the Sumida River. If you decide to go here, why not combine it with the Asakusa Temple as well as Kappabashi, a cookers heaven?
This temple is close to Hamamatsucho station. The reason we go there every year is because a friend of ours works close by, so during cherry blossom season we have made it a ritual to go there with a bento box and sit down close to the temple. Zojoji Temple has lovely views of the Tokyo Tower and beautiful grounds for a stroll around.
What has made Zojoji Temple extra special for us though is the procession of the surrounding temples all heading to Zojoji, wearing their traditional outfits-can it get anymore Japanese then this?
We hope you enjoy our selection of cherry blossom spots in Tokyo as much as we do! If you have any other recommendations for viewing spots, do let us know. If you are in Tokyo for this year’s sakura, we hope you have an amazing time and if you are thinking about going but are not sure, we hope we could convince you that cherry blossom in Tokyo is a magical time of year and a definite must see!