Hanami cherry blossom hot spots in Tokyo
Tokyo is adorned with cherry trees. Stunning white and pink cherry blossoms are making for the most popular scenes of the world, drawing the crowds who come to celebrate Hanami (flower viewing) with picnics and festivals.
It is my second time in Tokyo during spring to get high on the sight and smell of Sakura (cherry blossom). Here is a list of my favourite spots for Hanami:
1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden – flower blossom perfection a few minutes from Shinjuku Station
2. Edogawabashi Riverside – meet the locals strolling from Edogawabashi Station
3. Ueno Park – lots to see and do right next to Ueno Station
4. Hinokicho Park – perfect night shots of cherry blossom from Midtown Tower close to Roppongi Station
5. Aoyama Cemetery – blossom tranquillity in Minato and you can look for Hachiko’s tomb (for the most loyal dog)
6. Chidorigakuchi Moat – at the Imperial Palace. Most popular and crowded place for Hanami. Best to visit on weekdays due to many security guards who are controlling the crowds on weekends – a hot spot we didn’t visit but I can tell that it would be on the list if we had.
FABULOUS HANAMI PLACE 1 – SHINJUKU GYOENI think I love perfectly arranged Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden the most for its flower blossom variety. There are stunning cherry and rose trees, as well as huge magnolias and much more pedicured flora. Have a look at this flowery post describing Shinjuku Gyoen.
FABULOUS HANAMI PLACE 2 – EDOGAWABASHIOur Japanese friend Saori recommended Edogawabashi to avoid Hanami madness. Stunning Sakura along the riverside in Edogawabashi. Most of the crowd are locals with an open and inviting attitude.
At Chinzan-so Garden (椿山荘 ) you can see Goshinboku (the sacred tree), Kokosei well (which provided fresh water after the great Kanto earthquake in 1923), Gojo waterfall, the three storey pagoda and you can read your fortune at the shrine.
We are right next to the Four Seasons Hotel.
Three storey pagoda.
The red fortune machine. Insert 100 Yen and learn about your future.
Saori reading our fortune.
You then tie your fortune up and leave it at the shrine.
FABULOUS HANAMI PLACE 3 – UENO PARK
Ueno is a very picturesque spot for Hanami. People are sitting on picnic all along the pathways, and the trees are just amazing. There is a big lake where one can take out a romantic swan shaped rowboat. You can walk down to Bentendo temple to enjoy the smells of food stalls and Sakura bites. There are many museums and other sights at the park.
Timing is everything if you expect to see the magic of Sakura. We went one week before full bloom when it was just a regular park and during cherry blossom when it transformed into a portrait picture. We arrived a bit late that day and it was progressively getting dark with most people packing their picnics up.
Entrance to Ueno park.
Amongst all the pale-rose coloured blossom, there is just this one strikingly pink cherry tree.
Japanese businessmen and a couple minding their own business.
Strolling along Shinobazu lake.
This girl was feeding tiny sparrows who are not afraid to eat off the hand.
See how many birds you can find.
The petals were already falling at Ueno.
Wonderfully blooming trees transforming the city.
View from Bentendo temple.
Ueno park before cherry blossom. A totally different and bleak place.
Not one blooming tree. This is what it looks like before Sakura.
Tip for neat Sakura pictures: at the entrance to Ueno park, there is an impressive cherry tree and a tall building with a huge bright advertising screen. If you wait a bit the lights will change and give various Hanami shades to the blossom.
FABULOUS HANAMI PLACE 4 – HINOKICHO GARDEN
You can visit this beautiful Japanese Garden behind Tokyo’s tallest Midtown Tower Building in Roppongi or get a superb view and picture location from the building’s bridge. The night shots are great as the trees are lit up by colourful reflectors after sunset.
FABULOUS HANAMI PLACE 5 – AOYAMA CEMETERY
We went to Aoyama Cemetery for our final Hanami. Aoyama cemetery is renowned for its cherry blossom trees and for the small monument that looks like a grave of Hachiko (the faithful dog that waited for his owner at Shibuya Station every day for nine years after his master’s death). I have given the cemetery, the blossom and Hachiko a well deserved separate post.
FABULOUS HANAMI PLACE 6 – CHIDORIGAFUCHI
The area of the imperial palace is gorgeous in itself but the classic spot for Hanami is by the water-filled-moat called Chidorigafuchi, the spot in Tokyo with the largest number of people coming to view cherry blossoms. I hope to see this magical place sometime. For now I was happy to see bits of Sakura around the Imperial Palace area.
I wish you all a very…