Japan Guide: Sakura Viewing Locations in & around Tokyo

I have 3 first time experiences with Sakura – the first time I became aware of it, the first I saw it, and the first time I truly experienced it.

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Cherry Blossoms at Odawara Castle Park

When I was in grade school, I always looked forward to going home as soon as the dismissal bell rings. I didn’t want to be late for my most favorite TV show at the time, Cardcaptor Sakura. I loved it as a whole but I mostly cared for my kid crush on Syaoran Li (Sakura’s partner) and the pink trees in the background of some episodes.

I wondered if the trees were real and if I would ever get to see one.

I recall getting recycled paper from my grandmother’s office shelves and drew trees with a brown trunk but shied away from the traditional green and used my pink crayon to outline the cloud like bush and fill it in with the pretty color to finish my special tree. I stuck that drawing on my lola’s office wall so that she could notice it and bring me to see those pink trees but the next day, my drawing was gone.

Years later, my knowledge of that pink tree grew. It was in fact named Sakura same as the main character of my favorite anime which translates to Cherry Blossom. What a beautiful name for a flower, I thought!

I also found out that Cherry Blossoms are dominantly found in Japan.

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Flowering Sakura at Meguro River

When the opportunity came to book a spring trip to Japan for my birthday, my mom and I grabbed it immediately. I remember when we successfully booked our Manila to Nagoya flight at jetstar.com, the first thing I searched on Google was Best Sakura Spots in Nagoya or Top Cherry Blossom Viewing Locations in Japan. I didn’t even open the links. I just clicked on the IMAGES tab and browsed through the beautiful pictures.

We’re going to see pink trees soon, grade school Irene.

After a 3 hour red eye flight, my mom and I arrived at Chubu Centrair International Airport and took a train to Nagoya city center. I was about to doze off midway through the ride when I started to see light pink spots at the scenery outside. Mom, look! It’s a Sakura tree!, waking up my mother beside me. I was 26 then and I felt like a kid telling my mom I saw a hot air balloon in the sky.

Throughout the ride, we spotted Cherry Blossom trees here and there. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to! Even though from afar, I finally saw the pink trees.

Not on Google.

Not on a TV show.

But in real life.

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Sakura Illumination at Roppongi Mori Garden

When we got to our accommodation, we deposited our luggage and headed straight to our first Sakura spot. Not even breakfast. Given that we just came from a red eye flight and a train ride, I was surprisingly upbeat and ready to conquer the day! It was my birthday weekend and a wish from a decade ago was about to come true. I was genuinely hyped with gratitude and excitement!

At that point, I’ve already researched my way through what the Sakura is and what it means for the Japanese. It symbolizes life, beautiful but fleeting. But I also have to add in my favorite line from Mulan, the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare & beautiful of all.

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Boat rides at Chidorigafuchi Moat

The bulk of the itinerary for our Nagoya trip was Hanami which for the Japanese means the practice or custom of viewing flowers in bloom. It may look like a simple picnic amidst parks and these stunning trees but for the locals, it’s a celebration of life spent with family, friends, & loved ones.

My mom and I reached our first Hanami spot that arrival day – Yamazakigawa River. I was stunned. Literally. When we reached the bridge where the view of the Sakura trees lined the river to infinity, I just stared. My mom kept walking but I just stared. I had my camera in hand but I didn’t take photos. My wish came true. I was in the presence of the pink trees.

READ: A Cherry Blossoms Experience in Central Japan: How My Mom & I Spent ₱19,600 Each ALL-IN for 3 Days in Nagoya, Takayama, & Shirakawago

When I snapped out of my seconds trance, I followed my mom to a road covered with fallen petals. I could imagine my 10 year old self picking up those light pink sprinkles, putting them in a pail to make a mountain, and bathe in it. It was the perfect entrance to the Narnia of Cherry Blossoms. My mom and I took some photos and finally sat by the river. She brought out her sketchbook & colored pencils and I just stretched my legs & took in the view. It was stunning!

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Sakura Tsutsumi in Kumagaya

That was my first…

and I had a second…

READ: Nagoya, Your Gateway to Central Japan

And this article narrates the third. All were majestic experiences that never got old. Each time was unique showing that every Cherry Blossom experience provides something different for each traveler.

I flew from Manila to Narita with Jetstar and had the opportunity to visit 22 of the best and most popular Cherry Blossom spots in & around Tokyo last March to April 2019. Check out all my Sakura experiences at parks, tourist-y areas, and many more:

 

🌸PARKS🌸

(1) SUMIDA PARK

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Sumida park was a unique and refreshing Hanami spot for me because it deviated a bit from the whole itinerary where it feels like Oh! another garden full of trees with a picnic area! The park is lined with Sakura trees and parted by the Sumida River. If you’re coming from the Asakusa area where Sensoji temple is, walking towards the park assumes a POV of the left side of the river while the right side is the part closer to the Tokyo Sky Tree.

Looking at the Hanami spot as a whole, you can experience the Cherry Blossoms in a number of ways – from the left or right side of the park, view it above from the Tokyo Sky Tree observation deck, or right smack in the middle via a cruise.

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If you’re staying in the Asakusa area, it provides a lot of options for tourists because you can do one viewing option then choose from numerous activities available in tourist-y Asakusa and then come back later to view the Sakura in Sumida from another perspective.

If you walk further at the left side of the park, you’ll find the Sakura Square. I really loved the spot because the trees are clustered forming a beautiful forest of pink.

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NEAREST STATION: Just a few minutes walk away from Asakusa station (Toei or Ginza Lines)

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS: 

  • Convenience stores, food stalls, shopping streets, & department stores right before the entrance of the park (left side)
  • Cafes at the first hundred meters (left side)
  • Designated Hanami areas (left side)
  • Benches at Sakura Square (left side)
  • Street food stalls at the farther end (right side)
  • A few set-up picnic tables and mats (right side)

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(2) UENO PARK

If you Google search Best Sakura Locations or Spots in Tokyo, you’ll mostly likely find UENO PARK included in all of the list articles you’ll click and read.

It’s definitely a popular spot among  tourists! 

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The park isn’t the only feature of this commercial area. You’ll also find shopping malls, food markets like Ameyoko, museums, stores, a zoo, and many more. The park itself isn’t only a park. There’s a shrine and a pond too.

Walking from Ueno station, you’ll know you’re at the entrance when you find a lone weeping Cherry Blossom tree surrounded by a paparazzi of tourists. Well, it’s definitely a must-stop and must photo-op especially if this is the first ever Sakura tree you’ll see in the most listed Sakura viewing location in Tokyo, right?

What assured me that this park was a tourist-y one was because when I started to walk through the lined trees, a common sound I know too well was passing often at my sides. It’s out of place. It brings me back to a traveler haven which is…an airport. Yes, you read that right! HAHAHA! A lot of people were lugging around their luggage while walking through beautiful Sakura trees at Ueno park. It somehow diminished the whole viewing experience for me.

Tune out the rolling wheels for a second and you’ll realize that you’re being greeted & welcomed by beautiful blooming Sakura trees outlining a metaphorical silver carpet.

I visited early in the morning and I noticed that a few Hanami spots were already occupied and most were reserved by others through the placement of mats or tarps. Hanami picnic slots and trash boxes can be found all over the park.

If you don’t want to lay a picnic mat, there’s a large street food area where tables, seats, and benches are set-up. This area leads up to the park’s shrine, Ueno Tosho-gu.

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My favorite part of the park is the Shinobazu pond. During the morning I visited, it was definitely more peaceful than the main area. There are some seating areas and lots of street food stalls there too.

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If you walk around it, there’s a pretty pathway of Cherry Blossom trees. It’s perfect for dates or reflection because there are benches at the sides of the pond. You’ll also find an area where you can rent Swan boats.

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NEAREST STATION: Just a few minutes walk away from Ueno station (any line)

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • Street food stalls and seating areas near the Tosho-gu shrine
  • Designated Hanami areas all throughout the park
  • Street food stalls near Shinobazu Pond
  • Benches at Shinobazu Pond
  • Mini gazebos with benches and tables at Shinobazu Pond

(3) ASUKAYAMA PARK

I discovered this Cherry Blossom location through a social media post by The Poor Traveler. This park is just a 20 minute or less train ride away from Ueno station. It is located on elevated ground. From the station, you can reach the park via a monorail or stairs.

The monorail is free and is mostly used by senior locals. It takes around 5 minutes to go up and another to go down. It was around 2 PM when I got there and the monorail operated 3 rounds before I had my turn.

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When I reached the top, I was amazed. Remember my favorite area at the Sumida park? It seemed like the Sakura Square but it expanded to cover a whole hilltop. It was just the right amount of chill and sun that afternoon which made it perfect for me to lay my beach mat, have a snack, and nap for a few minutes to rest from all the walking and exploring at Ueno.

In a distance, I heard a lot of laughter from kids. Walking to where the sound is, I found a huge playground full of people. This park was definitely a local favorite among families.

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There were a lot of Hanami parties by locals at this park. The Hanami experience at Asakuyama felt less tourist-y than Ueno and a bit more genuine because I got to see how locals really celebrated the fascinating season – kids running around with their moms chasing them, groups of college or office friends drinking and celebrating, seniors playing board games, teens competing with cards, a student practicing martial arts or yoga, etc.

At Ueno, I felt like I was in a museum where everyone was trying to take a photo of every little thing at every corner. At Asukayama, I was and maybe a few tourists were the only ones holding cameras. It was definitely a grateful moment seeing what this time of the year is for the locals.

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While I was laying on my mat, this was my view. I can describe it using a lovely scene from Mary Poppins Returns. On cherry tree lane, a woman describes the pink trees as cotton candy clouds. And that is what I saw! An enchanting light blue sky serving cotton candy on chocolate sticks! It was so pretty! 

NEAREST STATION: The Asukayama monorail is right outside the Oji-Tokyo station (JR Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi Local Lines)

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • Free ground for Hanami 
  • Food trucks near the playground

(4) YOYOGI PARK

I am usually the type of traveler who prefers tourist sites to be vacant and peaceful. If I want it this way, I have to wake up early or be at a site during its opening on the dot. That’s just my preference.

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But when I visited Yoyogi park, I would have liked to experience it vacant but it was also a good experience to see it with a lot of people. Yoyogi park is massive! There is a lot of ground to cover. At the entrance, it can definitely be overwhelming especially if you’ve just explored Harajuku Takeshita Street, Meiji Shrine, and nearby tourist areas. It would be a bit tedious to explore another whole park at that point.

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So in my case, I just explored the first clustered Sakura tree area I saw that was closest to the entrance and wow I loved it!

If a HANAMI PARTY was defined by a single Sakura location, I would definitely use the area I was in at Yoyogi park as an example. There was a lot going on – children playing, adults drinking, locals & tourists laughing & talking, etc. Since I visited when the park was in full bloom, it was like a cloudy heaven of celebration!

It was a huge family frame that I wanted to capture. With all the smiles and activity infused against a background of fluffy full blooming Sakura flowers, I felt like I was part of a big family reunion celebrating all the best things in life. 

NEAREST STATION: Harajuku

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • Benches
  • Food establishment near the Yoyogi Hanami spot I visited 

(5) SHINJUKU GYOEN NATIONAL GARDEN

By the time I visited Shinjuku Garden, I’ve already visited 5 Sakura locations (4 of which were parks). Knowing I had to pay a fee for this Hanami spot unlike other Cherry Blossom spots I experienced, I expected Sakura flowers here to shine bright like a diamond! Just kidding! HAHAHA!

Coming into Shinjuku, I wasn’t expecting anything to really wow me at that point. I was wrong! This turned out to be my favorite park of them all! 

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There’s just a vibe to it that really reeled me in that made me feel, Hi Irene! Welcome to the Sakura experience!

You just have to be there to know!

Exiting Shinjuku station, I walked for around 10 minutes to get to the south entrance of the park. It seemed a little overwhelming at first because of the lines. There was one for checking of bags and another to pay for the entrance fee. But it was pretty quick. The whole process was efficient.

At 9:30 AM on a weekday and later on, there are definitely lots of people but once you enter and everyone spreads out at the massive park, it isn’t a bother. It actually feels right. It’s like we are all where we’re supposed to be.

This park has the best Hanami areas. The land is soft and there are unlimited areas for you to place your mat. For the first Sakura locations I visited, I didn’t really see myself staying for a long period of time with a picnic mat but at Shinjuku garden, the hour I spent there experiencing Hanami wasn’t enough. I would definitely stay there for half a day or more if I had the chance.

There’s also kind of a New York Central Park vibe to it because of all the high rise buildings around that seem to converge the outlines of the park. This park is definitely a must experience! My favorite!

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NEAREST STATION: The south entrance of the Shinjuku garden is a 10 minute (felt less actually) walk away from Shinjuku station (South Exit). It didn’t feel that long especially the walk to the park was easy to navigate and taking in the bustling sight of Shinjuku was fascinating.

ADMISSION: ¥200 (₱96+) per person. The park is open from 9AM to 4PM.

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • Food establishments near the south entrance of the park
  • Lots of Café like tables and chairs near the entrance
  • Lots of Hanami spots throughout the whole park

(6) INOKASHIRA PARK

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An hour train ride away from Tokyo city center and known for its night illumination, Inokashira park is a wonderful and stunning Cherry Blossom location visited by mostly locals and when I was there at around 8 AM, a few foreign tourists as well.

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There are Hanami slots but at that time in the morning, most of it were already occupied. I observed some of the visitors sleeping, placing mats even inflatable beds, and I also saw a local saving her spot using a string.

This park for me is a cross between Ueno park and the Chidorigafuchi moat based on its landscape, both of which are tourist heavy sites.

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If you want to shy away from that, Inokashira park is your best bet if you visit in the morning. I’m not sure what it’s like at night but based on the mostly covered Hanami spots and all activity paraphernalia (concert platforms, speakers, etc) being set-up, I feel like it turns into a mini Coachella in the evening.

You can also view the Sakura at Inokashira park by renting boats but it is believed that the pond is cursed. Any couple who rides the swan boats will break up in the immediate future. According to legend, Benzaiten (goddess of beauty & words) becomes jealous of the lovers who ride boats at the pond and curses them.

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Although you’ll find a lot of people, the atmosphere was very peaceful. People were quietly celebrating in their own way. It was silent at times that all I could here was the ducks on the pond and the occasional black ravens whisking through trees & perching on branches. It was definitely a Game of Thrones moment for me seeing all those three-eyed ravens flying around! Maybe Benzaiten is Bran? HAHA!

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NEAREST STATION: Just a few minutes walk away from Kichijoji station

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • The nearest station is located inside a department store with lots of restaurants and food establishments around
  • Before the entrance of the park, you’ll find convenience stores, a Starbucks branch, and food stalls

(7) HIBIYA PARK

If you’re staying in the Ginza area, you’ll definitely need a breather from all the shopping and busy city vibe. The Hibiya park is a quick refreshing lung you can jot off to.

There are only a few Sakura trees there but the garden and structure as a whole is a relaxing environment. There are lots of free benches around and grounds for Hanami but during the afternoon, it’s usually filled with local families.

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NEAREST STATION: Ginza – walking distance may vary depending on which line you’re exiting from. It’s nearest to the Yurakucho Line.

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • There were no street food stalls or establishments
  • Lots of benches and Hanami grounds

(8) ROPPONGI MORI GARDEN

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Mori Garden was a unique experience for me because this was the first park I got to experience in both a day & night setting. It’s a small garden with a pond that resembles Japanese gardens that is usually depicted in movies.

At night, when you look up, you’ll find the garden is set up amidst a background of skyscrapers which provides that overwhelming contrast of nature and the city.

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NEAREST STATION: An 8 minute walk away from Roppongi station

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • There are no seating or Hanami areas within the garden but it is situated beside a large shopping complex where you can find restaurants, shops, etc
  • There’s a small seating area beside but not within the garden 

(9) IMPERIAL PALACE GROUNDS

I passed by a few Sakura trees from the walk from Chidorigafuchi Moat to the East Gardens to the outside of the Imperial Palace grounds. It was a tourist walking route. 

One of the scenery I passed by is this beautiful sight which makes me feel like I’m in the final scene of the Twilight movie series.

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🌸TOURIST-Y AREAS🌸

(10) SHIBUYA

Even though I’ve seen the famous crossing and Hachiko statue during my Tokyo trip back in 2016, I didn’t want to miss seeing it again.

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This wasn’t included as a part of my Sakura itinerary so I was surprised to find a few flowering Sakura trees planted around Hachiko right before the Shibuya crossing.

READ: How My Family Travelled to Tokyo for ₱24,000 Each ALL-IN

(11) SENSOJI TEMPLE

When you think of Tokyo, one of the icons you’ll definitely come across is the Sensoji temple. When I visited the temple back in 2016, it was at night time during winter so the trees were hardly visible and creepily bare. It resembled trees you see tapping on windows in horror movie scenes.

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An already tourist-y spot with its Kimono rental shops around, numerous food establishments, and the famous shopping street as its welcoming mat, adding Sakura to Sensoji temple takes the cake of a must-visit site in Tokyo. Although the nice Sakura trees all around the temple complex make for nice photos, the crowding tourists make it less appealing.

It seems rewarding for a tourist’s photo collection to include an image with both a Japanese temple and Sakura flowers in one.

The oldest Sakura tree dated 2,000 years old is actually found within a temple area. The Sakura tree is called Jindai Zakura. You can view it at the Jissou temple in Yamanashi Prefecture which is a 4 hour train ride away from Tokyo.

NEAREST STATION: Asakusa (Toei or Ginza Lines)

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • No seating areas around the temple
  • Nakamise Shopping Street
  • At every corner in Asakusa, you’ll find food establishments, restaurants, and shopping areas. It’s a tourist haven!

(12) GINZA SIX

This was a surprise Hanami spot! Ginza Six was one of the department stores I wanted to check out since it just opened last 2017. While exploring the second floor of the building, I got excited when I saw flying Sakura petals outside at a veranda area. 

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There were outdoor seats and tables with 3 to 4 trees lined up at the side. It was a perfect spot where a fresh breeze ran through and took petals along with it. It was a beautiful end of spring season sight! So if you’re in the Ginza area, check out this cool Hanami spot at Ginza Six!

NEAREST STATION: Just a few minutes walk away from Ginza station (Tokyo Metro)

ADMISSION: Free

(13) ODAIBA

During my last Tokyo trip, Odaiba was one of my favorite locations that we visited. It was only fitting that I check it out again! This wasn’t a planned Sakura spot but when I got there I was surprised to see Sakura trees all around, even beside the Gundam!

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It was the end of season in the Tokyo prefecture so petals were starting to fall, it was a stunning sight to see all of it at once – the rainbow bridge, statue of liberty, a vast sea view, and city skyline. It capped off the perfect Sakura trip!

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NEAREST STATION: just a minute away from Daiba station

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • Aqua City
  • Diver City 
  • Sit outside at Starbucks
  • Dock platform by the Odaiba cruise line station

(14) TOKYO TOWER (SHIBA PARK AREA)

Another popular icon in Tokyo is the Tokyo tower. Just like with Sensoji temple, I wanted it to be the background of my Sakura photos to add to that spring trip tourist photo collection.

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At Shiba park some minutes away from the base of the Tokyo tower, you’ll also find figurines which represent care deities of children. They are dedicated to protect children and grandchildren as well as a memorial for still births and miscarried children.

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There were no Hanami areas at Shiba park but there were a few locals with picnic mats celebrating by the road going to the nearby train station (Akabanebashi) from Tokyo Tower.

NEAREST STATION: Kamiyacho, Akabanebashi, Shibakoen, or Onarimon Stations

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • No seating area at Shiba park near the temples
  • A few street food stalls nearby

🌸SPECIAL LOCATIONS🌸

(15) MEGURO RIVER

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Meguro River is a Sakura spot that you must visit if you’re experiencing or seeing Cherry Blossoms for the very first time.

Since I’m not into crowds, I visited during the wrong time which is late afternoon to evening. It was heavily crowded! If you’ve visited the Harajuku Takeshita street, this is probably Takeshita 2.0: the Sakura edition!

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The Meguro river spans around 8 km with 4 km lined with Sakura trees during the spring season. There are countless photo-ops there that you’ll probably have 100 shots to choose from once you’re done walking end to end.

If you’re coming from Naka-meguro station, you’ll definitely be fascinated at once at the beautiful flowers lined alongside a river with more Cherry Blossoms crowning its center.

You’ll want to take a photo at once! Don’t get too excited because it spans 4 KM! There is more to come when you walk further! The first hundred meters can be the most crowded because this is where the tourists come, stop to take a photo, & go. Just walk more and you’ll find better spots that have less crowds to take photos at.

Illumination starts at 5 PM until 10 PM. All the lanterns situated along the river turns pink which provides a beautiful cast on the already beautifully shaded Sakura.

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NEAREST STATION: Nakameguro

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • There are no free benches or seating areas during the 4 KM walk
  • There are a lot of street food stalls and food establishments selling Sakura themed snacks and drinks 
  • Around 1-2 KM from Nakameguro station, you’ll find the newly opened and largest Starbucks in the World (Starbucks Reserve Roastery)

(16) AOYAMA CEMETERY

You might think I’m a bit morbid but the BEST Sakura viewing location in Tokyo for me is a cemetery. Yes, a cemetery! I found solace in an area where all things metaphorical on life and death can be felt.

Walking from the station, I was already stunned by what I saw and I wasn’t even at the cemetery yet.

It was a Sakura tunnel! It was the Cherry Blossom tunnel of dreams! There’s just something heavenly about an arc made of flowers.

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It is situated on an active road so capturing photos can take time. You have to wait for cars to pass before you can pose for a photo in the middle. You also need a spotter for incoming motorists. The traffic is light so there are a lot of opportunities to take amazing IG-worthy photos.

If I could describe this Hanami spot, it would be the epitome of peace. With peace, overwhelming gratitude is felt. When I was at Aoyama, I started to realize all the good in my life and what I have experienced up to that point.

It was like I was surrounded by angels watching me enjoy and be grateful for one of the most beautiful seasons in the country. While walking through the cemetery, I felt teary-eyed because I sensed my late grandmother’s presence there walking with me, celebrating the beauty of life through the full blooms of petals and the end of well-lived lives. It was a special way to experience the Sakura season.

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NEAREST STATION: A few minutes walk away from Gaiemmae

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS

  • There are no Hanami areas at the cemetery
  • Free benches 
  • You’ll find a convenience store and a few shops on the path leading from the train station to the entrance of the cemetery

(17) ROPPONGI SAKURAZAKA

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Another Sakura tunnel and a beautiful viewing location in Tokyo is Sakurazaka in Roppongi. Sakura arched trees on an active road is located in this residential area. Unlike Aoyama where the road is surrounded by burial stones, this Sakura spot is surrounded by commercial buildings and condominiums.

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NEAREST STATION: A 10 minute walk away from Roppongi station

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • There are no seating areas or food stalls along the road
  • There are seating steps at the Sakurazaka Park which leads to the overhead viewing point of the tunnel

(18) CHIDORIGAFUCHI MOAT

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This Sakura viewing location is very popular among locals and tourists. Expect very heavy crowds! The platform for taking photos is pretty busy too so you have to be patient!

The boat rides start at 11 AM and costs ¥800 (₱382+) for 30 minutes. I arrived at around 11:30 AM and this was the line I saw for the boat rides:

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The Sakura trees covering the hills beside the moat have beautiful petals. I loved taking photos up close at different angles especially when a boat cruises by.

NEAREST STATION: Around 5-10 min. walk away from Kudanshita station

ADMISSION: Free

EATING & SEATING AREAS:

  • Hanami picnics are not allowed by the river
  • There are a few street food stalls along the pathway

(19) TRAVEL ROUTES & TRAIN STATIONS

Sakura Stop! There are so many Sakura trees all over Tokyo. Although I already planned out a fixed Sakura itinerary and pinned specific Hanami locations, I’m still in awe and surprisingly stunned when I see Cherry Blossoms by a wrong turned alley or a train station, tourist site, river, etc.

 

🌸OUTSIDE TOKYO🌸

(20) ODAWARA CASTLE PARK

The first stop of the Hakone day trip was the Odawara Castle Park. Although a lot of reviews say that this castle has been renovated too much, the view of it during spring is classic! The castle surrounded by full bloom Sakura flowers was captivating.

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The sun was out and the chill was perfect! It’s a bit of a tourist-y area because all the food stalls that surround the castle were all Sakura-themed and pretty expensive. But the photos you’ll capture at this Hanami spot is well-worth the visit especially if you’re doing the Hakone sightseeing route.

I also loved the entrance to the park as it’s another Sakura tunnel to the pathway of dreams!

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NEAREST STATION: A few minutes walk away from Odawara station if you’re entering the south entrance of the castle park. For the main entrance, it’ll take around an 8-10 min. walk but it’s well worth it because of the Cherry Blossom arched pathway.

ADMISSION: FREE for the park but if you’re exploring the castle, there is a ¥500 (₱239+) fee per person.

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • I didn’t see any locals or tourists place picnic mats on the ground for Hanami but there are a lot of picnic tables and benches beside the food trucks and stalls
  • Convenience & souvenir store 

(21) SAKURA TSUTSUMI KUMAGAYA

Aside from the Odawara Castle Park from the Hakone sightseeing route, I also did a Kumagaya + Kawagoe Sakura day trip just to explore a bit of the surrounding areas of Tokyo. I found out about this route from Celia in Tokyo. If you plan to do this day trip, I suggest that you start very early in the day as the train rides are a bit long.

Tokyo Sakura Viewing Locations (49)

From Tokyo station to Kumagaya, the train ride takes around 40 minutes to an hour. There are no transfers on this ride. It felt like a trip from Manila to Bulacan but with a lot of stops. I think there were 15+ stops. I lost count after 10.

I wanted to visit this Sakura spot because of the complimenting colors of pink, yellow, and green flora at this location. When I arrived at around 11 AM, it was busy. There were lots of locals and a few tourists. You’ll also find a massive bare field with a few Hanami parties while most kept to the flora area where I really wanted to situate myself. 

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There are also lots of street food stalls (the rates are expensive so just buy Hanami food at convenience stores in Tokyo) and a few arcade games nearby. In front of them are platforms where you can sit and eat on just in case you didn’t bring any picnic mats. Since this Hanami spot is not a foreign tourist heavy location, sellers from the street food stalls do not understand English.

I would definitely love to see this again but at an earlier time like 7 AM or 8 AM where it isn’t too busy. When I visited, the yellow shrubs weren’t at full bloom yet so the colors weren’t that distinct in photos.

NEAREST STATION: Just a 5 min. walk from Kumagaya station

ADMISSION: FREE

(22) SHINGASHI RIVER KAWAGOE

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WOW! I LOVED THIS PLACE! This is a must visit when the full bloom stage is over because the falling petals on the river is just DIVINE! I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SAKURA SPOT! From Kumagaya or Tokyo to Kawagoe, it takes an 1 hour and 30 minutes via train. 

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From Kawagoe station, you have the option of walking to Hikawa shrine for around 30 minutes or take a bus that runs every few minutes from the station and has around 5 to 8 stops which takes around 30 minutes or less. The bus can get crowded and you can use the PASMO card for the ride. 

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When you enter the shrine, just walk to the back and you’ll find the river sprinkled with petals. Even though there were quite a number of people, it was still serene. It wasn’t like the crowded scene at Meguro River or Chidorigafuchi Moat. So if you’re choosing a more peaceful scene, Shingashi River as a must!

NEAREST STATION: Kawagoe

ADMISSION: Free

SEATING & EATING AREAS:

  • River banks
  • There are no street food stalls
  • There are seats inside the shrine for visitors

 

🌸SAKURA TRIP TIPS🌸

  • Before booking flights for your spring trip to Japan, wait for the first few Sakura forecast announcements of first and full bloom dates at your target prefecture (the first Cherry Blossom forecast for the year usually comes out during the 2nd or 3rd week of January). Try to check historical data and make a decision based on those dates. I follow Japan Rail Pass because they have timely updates on Facebook.
Tokyo Sakura Viewing Locations (27)

Sakura Square at Sumida Park (left side)

  • Spring is peak season in Japan so make sure to book your flights and hotels as early as you can because as the season nears, rates go up. 
  • The Sakura timeline starts from the buds. It usually takes 1 week for the first bloom and another week or less for full bloom. Full bloom usually lasts for a week before the petals start falling. In my opinion, the best time to view Cherry Blossoms is midway through the full bloom week until the petals start to fall. That’s just my preference! Please note that the timeline may speed up or slow down depending on weather conditions like wind, rain, etc.
DSCF2659

Fallen Sakura at Aoyama Cemetery

  • Hanami Etiquette
    • Throw trash in the proper bins/boxes
    • Do not touch or pull on Sakura branches when taking photos
    • Make sure it’s an authorized area to place your picnic mats on
    • Don’t place your mats on tree roots 
    • Be respectful of others! (Drink moderately & don’t be too loud!) 
    • Enjoy, celebrate, and be grateful!

 

🌸SAKURA TREATS🌸

One of the things I looked forward to during the spring trip was the Cherry Blossom-themed food and souvenirs. Here’s a list of places where you can find Sakura treats:

DSCF3471

  • Convenience stores (7-eleven, Family Mart, Lawson’s) 
  • Food gardens or groceries at department stores (Asakusa ROX, Mitsukoshi, Ginza Six, Daimaru, Tokyu Plaza, Isetan)
  • Don Quijote
  • Coffee & pastry shops (Starbucks, Tully’s, Krispy Kreme, Cinnabon, Mister Donut, Pablo’s)
  • Street food stalls at popular Cherry Blossom spots (Meguro River, Odawara Castle Park, Inokashira Park, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Ueno Park)
  • Shopping streets (Harajuku Takeshita Street, Nakamise Shopping Street, Shopping Arcades)
  • Stores (Nagano Shop in Ginza, Ginza Kimuraya, Calbee Takeshita, Suzukien Asakusa) 
  • Airport (Narita Duty Free) 
  • Train stations

Sakura food items can range from sweet to savory to just plain decorative. 

IMG_9963

 

🌸MY FAVORITE SAKURA SPOTS IN & AROUND TOKYO🌸

  1. Aoyama Cemetery
  2. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  3. Shingashi River Kawagoe
  4. Meguro River
  5. Odaiba

 

What are you waiting for? Start planning your Tokyo Spring trip now!

Jetstar☆ flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita Terminal 3) daily.

Tokyo Sakura Viewing Locations (1)

Always be on the look out for Jetstar’s promo fares, Friday Frenzy seat sales, contests, & travel news on Facebook (@JetstarAsiaAirways), Twitter (@Jetstar_Asia), & Instagram (@jetstarasia)!

For all day, every day, low fares to Japan, book your flights at www.jetstar.com! #Jetstar2Tokyo

 

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Prices of fees may have changed from time of writing.
  • Prices may vary depending on exchange rate. As of May 2019, ¥1 = ₱0.48
  • This is a sponsored write-up. My experiences with products & services may or may not be the same as yours. All opinions are inspired by my travel experiences & nothing else. 

9 thoughts on “Japan Guide: Sakura Viewing Locations in & around Tokyo

  1. Errol Becker says:

    It looks so inviting, a beautiful time of the year to visit Japan. The pictures are amazing, I am sure you had a fantastic time. I would want to go back there yearly

    Like

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