When is the best time to see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo? What should I do if I miss the peak season of the cherry blossoms? In this guide, we will provide answers to these questions and share with you our favorite spots for viewing the cherry blossoms. If you are arriving in Japan in mid-late April, we have some recommendations for you to catch the late blooming flowers.
In 2019, Japan's cherry blossoms are expected to bloom early again this year according to a forecast by Japan Meteorological Corporation. Once the flowers have reached full bloom, the peak usually continues for about 4 -5 days. Weather conditions can speed up the process but if the conditions are good, the cherry blossoms usually can be seen around Tokyo for about 10 days.
The cherry blossom season is a magical time in Japan and almost everywhere you go you can see "hanami" or flower viewing parties in most parks. Sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese and these blossoms have a deep meaning in Japanese culture and are seen as a metaphor for life itself.
There are many varieties of cherry blossoms and some bloom much earlier and others bloom much later. The Somei Yoshino flowers are the most common ones and were cultivate by humans over the years. The more pinkish Yama-zakura is a wild flower which blooms earlier than the Somei Yoshino flowers.
We have created this guide to help you find the most beautiful cherry blossom spots in central Tokyo. So, get your camera ready, it’s time for “hanami”!
Meguro River in the Naka-meguro area of Tokyo is a cool international town with many stylish bars and restaurants along the river. The area is especially famous for the Cherry Blossoms along the river that you can see in early April. It is a nice place to go for a walk any time of year and the Naka-meguo area is a fun place to get lost in.
For access: take the train to Naka-meguro Station. It’s about a 5 minute walk to Meguro River.
Imperial Palace East Gardens
The Imperial Palace is the former site of Edo Castle. The castle was the residence of the Tokugawa Shogun. The samurai clan ruled Edo (now Tokyo) from 1603 - 1867. It is now the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. The East Gardens are worth visiting. The main castle, inner keep, was destroyed by fire in 1657 and was never rebuilt. Though none of the main buildings survived, you can still see the surrounding moats, walls, and entrance gates.
East Garden Hours: The gardens are usually closed on Mondays and Fridays. When a National Holiday falls on a Monday, the gardens will be open for the National Holiday and closed on the next day, Tuesday. The East Gardens are closed from December 28 - January 3.
The opening hours are usually open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (entry until 4:00 pm) So get there early.
For access: take the train to Takebashi Station or Otemachi Station. The East Gardens are a short walk from the station. Admission is free.
Kitanomaru Park and Chidorigafuchi
Chidori-ga-fuchi is a moat that dates back to the Edo Period. It is located northwest of the Imperial Palace. There are many varieties of cherry blossom trees that surround the moat. The trees are lit up at night during the cherry blossom season. It’s definitely worth seeing!
For access: take the train to Kudanshita Station. Go out Exit 2. Admission is free.
Sumida Park and Sumida River
Sumida park is located along the Sumida River which connects to Odaiba. There are many exciting events held here such the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival and the Sumida Park Cherry Blossom Festival. It is a popluar spot for people to go on long walks and it offers great views of Tokyo Skytree. It's nearby Sensoji temple so both locations can be visited on the same day!
For access: take the train Asakusa Station. It's about a 10-15 minute walk to get to this location (pictured above).
Sensoji is a very popular Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It was originally completed in 645 and is the oldest temple in Tokyo. Visitors enter the temple through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) which connects to the shopping street called Nakamise. There is also a Japanese traditional garden and pond with koi or Amur carp. For best view of the temple and Tokyo Skytree, go to the 8th floor of the Asakusa Cultural Center.
For access: take the train to Asakusa Station. Admission is free.
Ueno park is is a large public park next to Ueno Station in Tokyo. The park is famous for its many museums which include: Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, and the national Science Museum. Ueno Zoo is also located in the park. During the cherry blossoms season, Ueno park is a popular spot for Hanami or cherry blossom viewing parties.
For access: take the train to Ueno Station. Entry to the park is free.
Shinjuku Gyoen dates back to the Edo period and the original garden was completed in 1772. It was created on the grounds of a private mansion belonging to Kiyonari Naito who was a daimyō or also known as political leader of Japan. After the Meiji Restoration, Shinjuku Gyoen was converted into an experimental agricultural centre and later became a a botanical garden. In 1879, it became an imperial garden and the current design of the garden was completed in 1906. The garden was open to the public in 1949. Shinjuku Gyoen blends three distinct styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden. General is 200 yen to enter. The park closes at 4:30 PM so get there early.
For access: take the train to Shinjuku Station and take the New South Exit. It's about a 10 minute walk down the hill along the Koshu Kaido (Highway).
Koishikawa Kōrakuen is a wonderful traditional Japanese garden with artificial hills and ponds that dates back to 1629. Construction was started during the early Edo Period by Tokugawa Yorifusa who was the feudal lord of the Mito clan. It was completed by his successor, Tokugawa Mitsukuni. "Kōraku" means enjoying afterwards and "en" means garden. The idea of "enjoying afterwords" refers to a Chinese teaching that, a governor should worry about the peoples' needs first and his own enjoyment after.
For access: the nearest stations are Iidabashi or Kōrakuen Station. General admission is 300 yen.
Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo and it is conveniently located nearby Harajuku and Meiji Shrine. It is a great spot for picnics and outdoor activites. There are many international festivals held in the park's concert area which usually has many food vendors and shops selling goods. It is a popular place for "Hanami"parties but most of the cherry trees are located in one section of the park.
For access: take the train to Harajuku Station. Entry is free.
Inokashira Park dates back to the Edo period and is the primary water source for the Kanda River. The name Inokashira means "source of the water supply”. There are many fun activities to do in the park. You can rent a swan boat, a row boat or a regular paddle boat. Inokashira Park Zoo is also in the park and international people can get a 20% discount with a passport. The Ghibli Museum is within walking distance from the park. Tickets should be purchased in advance. Also, you can enjoy the town of Kichijoji on the same day!
For access: take the train to Inokashira Koen Station or Kichijoji Station. Admission is free.
Kanda River starts at Inokashira park and runs all the way into Sumida River. During the cherry blossom season, we recommend getting off at Takaido station on the Inokashira line and walking along the river towards Hamadayama Station. It's a good option if you are looking to take a break from the crowds and enjoy a leisurely walk along Kanda River with the cherry blossoms. Near the station, there is also an Onsen or hot spring in the Ozeki building. It is called "Utsukushinoyu".
For access: take the train to Takaido Station.
Even after the Somei Yoshino flowers have come and gone, there are some parks that still have late blooming cherry blossoms until mid-late April. We recommend visiting Shinjuku Gyoen and Kitanomaru Garden (photo was taken on April 15th last year).
Soon after the cherry blossom season is over, the azaleas and wisteria are well worth seeing. Nezu Shrine (pictured above) , Rikugien Gardens and Shiofune Kannon Temple are great spots to see the azaleas.
Kameido Tenjin Shrine
Kameido Tenjin Shrine is famous for its magnificent cascades of hanging purple wisteria or fuji flowers. These flowers are blooming from the end of April to the beginning of May.
We hope you found this cherry blossom guide to be helpful. The sakura season is relatively short and it almost feels like a dream. We designed these cherry blossoms tees for fun to help you remember the magical feeling of seeing these gorgeous flowers and to bring a bit of the "magical feeling" with you where ever you go. Why don't you, Catch the Sakura Wave?!Click Here
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