Sakura cherry blossom season is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to get your hanami flower-viewing game plan in order! A longstanding symbol of Japanese culture and Japan’s diverse seasons, the cherry blossoms are highly anticipated each year, even with a national sakura forecast airing on television. Not only limited to appreciating the blossoms in passing, but sakura fever also comes out in the way of festivals, all kinds of sakura-designed products and sakura-themed foods, and of course, hanami parties. At these hanami parties, everyone brings picnics and festive drinks along to enjoy the fun atmosphere with family and friends. With beautiful views, food, and company, it’s always a good time when sakura season rolls around. Prepare yourself to join the festivities; here are 10 top picks of places in Tokyo where you can catch the sakura cherry blossoms.
1. Shinjuku Gyoen
Take a breather from the bustling city streets of Shinjuku and visit this massive park in the heart of the city: Shinjuku Gyoen. This beautiful park features over a thousand sakura trees, and you can see Shinjuku’s skyscrapers towering over them in the background. The main route winds leisurely through the garden, leading up to open areas with plenty of space where you can relax in the sun admiring the cherry blossoms and friends. With many varieties of cherry blossom trees, they bloom at different times for prolonged enjoyment throughout the season.
2. Yoyogi Park
This huge family-friendly park has plenty of space for everyone, and during sakura season Yoyogi Park maintains its friendly and easygoing vibe that it’s famous for all year round. Bring a friend and a bento, and maybe a frisbee to throw around, to join the fun in this lively sakura spot. There’s always something going on in Yoyogi Park, like someone practicing an unusual instrument or rehearsing a dance number with the crew. Located near Meiji Jingu Shrine and Harajuku, Yoyogi Park is a great place to chill out under some sakura trees in between tasting the latest in unbelievable desserts and getting a dose of traditional Japanese culture.
3. Inokashira Park
In this sweet western suburb of Kichijoji, Inokashira Park is one of the best parks in Tokyo throughout the year, but especially for hanami. This park has a peaceful pond running through it, which gradually fills with pink petals as the sakura season goes on. Here you can ride a swan boat or regular boat, or just stroll around and enjoy the sakura. This huge park has pleasant paths winding throughout, with about 500 sakura trees to enjoy. The Kichijoji area itself is known for having plenty of trendy shops, restaurants, and cafes, and for being home to the Mitaka Ghibli Museum.
4. Ueno Park
A huge and sprawling park in the northern area of Tokyo, Ueno Park is one of the most popular places for sakura viewing in Tokyo. Big groups line the pavements here, having long and leisurely hanami cherry blossom viewing parties. It can become very crowded with people coming from all over to enjoy the area’s 1000 sakura trees, so come early if you want to grab a spot for the day. Ueno Park is known for its iconic central fountain and is home to the Ueno Zoo, while the Ueno area is also known for hosting many of the big art institutions and the Ameyoko Market district.
5. Yanaka District
If you need a break from the huge crowds in the bigger parks of Tokyo, the Yanaka district is a beautiful area to see sakura. Tucked around the corner, just a short walk away from Ueno, the old town district of Yanaka is often overlooked. One of the oldest districts in Tokyo, it has maintained its traditional feel with many local shops and family-owned restaurants as well as a growing art community. During hanami season, however, Yanaka is a popular district for cherry blossom viewing. You can enjoy its historic backstreets and the area’s food offerings, while soaking in the beautiful blossoms.
6. Chidorigafuchi Park
Situated on the west side of the Imperial Palace, Chidorigafuchi Park features a 700-meter walkway with sakura trees running alongside the palace moat. With many weeping cherry trees hanging over the water, it is especially beautiful in the evening when the yozakura (nighttime sakura illuminations) are all lit up with the pink glow reflecting back. During the daytime, you can also hire a boat to cruise around in while you enjoy the sakura views. Just a little north is Yasukuni Shrine, which also has beautiful sakura trees in the area. Yasukuni Shrine is in fact home to the main sakura tree that the Tokyo government uses to determine the rate of blooming sakura flowers in the city. In the same central area, the Imperial East Gardens are a really refined place to see the cherry blossoms. It seems fitting, seeing as the sakura blossom is one of Japan’s natural symbols, to enjoy the sakura on imperial grounds.
7. Meguro River & Nakameguro
The walk along the Meguro River between Meguro and Nakameguro is lovely to view sakura, and is a part of the ever-popular Nakameguro Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festival). Hundreds of weeping sakura trees run along either side of the canal, shedding petals that drift away in the water. It is particularly spectacular in the evening with the nighttime sakura illuminations and the festival’s matching bright pink lanterns. Sakura-themed snacks and pink champagne, as well as regular festival food, are readily available at many yatai street food carts dotted along the route. You can wander down either side of the river, but if it gets a little crowded you can easily duck off into one of Nakameguro’s many hip restaurants or cafes.
8. Koshikawa Korakuen
Koshikawa Korakuen is one of the best and oldest traditional Japanese gardens in Tokyo, and a truly beautiful spot to see sakura. While it doesn’t boast the most amount of cherry blossom trees, the Edo period design of the garden is gorgeous, with a peaceful atmosphere, making for a lovely hanami trip. A number of winding pathways around the central lake area leads you through to different viewpoints of the garden. It also features some ume plum blossom trees which can be seen blooming around mid-February each year (Koshikawa Korakuen also has exceptional autumn colors in the fall).
9. Sumidagawa River & Sumida Park
By the wide banks of the Sumidagawa River, cherry blossom trees are everywhere on both sides of the river, with over 600 sakura trees along the path. Only a short walk from Asakusa and Sensoji Temple, you can get that obligatory snap of the Tokyo Tower surrounded by sakura trees here. A popular hanami spot, this area also hosts one of Tokyo’s biggest sakura festivals, the Bokutei Sakura Matsuri. Here you can get your fix of sakura-themed foods, drinks, and souvenirs while enjoying the views of Sumida Park. There are also sightseeing ferries in the area you can ride and watch the sakura as you cruise by, a glorious view on a clear day.
A short hike just outside of the city, Mount Takao, or Takaosan, provides a change of scenery for cherry blossom viewing about an hour away from Shinjuku. It takes an hour or so to walk up from Takaosanguchi Station, or else be prepared to queue for the chair lift or the cable car. 599 meters above sea level, the main viewpoint overlooking Tokyo is surrounded by sakura trees, and you can see Mount Fuji on a clear day. You’ll see plenty of sakura on the way up, but if you’re willing to walk an extra 30 minutes, this bonus hike will take you to a beautiful grove named Zenbonzakura, meaning “1000 cherry blossom trees” (the jackpot).
And there you have it, ten places in Tokyo where you can find sakura cherry blossoms. Spring is right around the corner, so get ready to grab your friends, a sakura-themed bento and a picnic mat, because hanami time means party time!
Never not hungry, Lucy is an artist and foodie from Australia. You can find her hunting for the next delicious deal, documenting her food, or brunching. She lives firmly by the philosophy that food friends are the best of friends.