Tokyo: Cherry Blossom Spots
It’s hard to compete with spring in Japan when the cherry blossoms, or sakura, are out in full bloom.
While Tokyo is more or less a concrete jungle, there are some gorgeous areas for cherry blossom viewing.
Here are some of my favorites that I’ve been to:
The Nakameguro area of the Meguro river is a cherry blossom tunnel made up of about 800 trees that span an almost 4km/2.4mi area.
Both day and night are really different experiences. The daytime is a bit calmer with people going for a stroll under the flowers. Evenings, on the other hand, become somewhat of a light-up festival with pink lanterns and illuminated trees that are lit until 9PM. Nakameguro is typically a quiet, residential area, but during this time of year, the canal-side eateries open up to outdoor eating and drinking, and numerous food stands set up to sell everything from fries to kababs.
On the side and in the back of Tokyo Midtown, a multi-purpose, upscale shopping area in Roppongi, is Sakura-dori, a street lined with cherry blossoms.
Evenings are the most popular time to visit as the trees are illuminated to create a peaceful sakura getaway in the middle of Tokyo. The lights are a pink color while the flowers are blooming and become white once they've reached full bloom. The area is also heavily visited during the day as crowds wait to enter Midtown at its 11AM opening so they can rush for a balcony seat at Napule [J], an Italian restaurant that sits right above the cherry blossom-lined street.
One of Tokyo’s biggest parks, Ueno park has cherry blossom trees everywhere - about 800 of them - and during the season, you’ll find a lot of picnickers. It's a good place to join in on the fun with a mat and some food and drinks of your own.
There is one main walkway that is fully covered with the sakura trees, as well as around the Shinobazunoike lake area a little south of it. You’ll find a lot of park-goers riding foot paddle boats on the lake, enjoying the season as well.
On the northwest corner of the Imperial Palace grounds, the Chiyodagafuchi area is full of cherry blossoms lining the moat's banks. A tunnel of about 260 trees cover a walkway that runs alongside the moat, where people enjoy rowing around the blossoms in small boats during the day.
Above Roppongi-itchome station is the Ark Hills business area. They have a little sakura festival in their open space with food and drink stands and the streets around the buildings are all lined with cherry blossoms. From certain angles, you'll be able to compliment the illuminated cherry blossom view with a shot of Tokyo Tower.
Some other notable areas are:
- Shinjuku Gyoen Park - A short walk from Shinjuku station, this well kept private park has cherry blossom trees without overwhelming crowds
- Nogawa - An 850m/930yd river that has a one-day only light-up festival which gets announced 2 days before the event
- Shimotakaido - A tunnel of trees tucked in a residential area next to Nihon University
Here's a final photo from Shimotakaido: