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By Julian Canlas - 10 min read

A map of Tokyo’s 17 best cherry blossoms spots

In Tokyo, cherry blossom viewing – or hanami in Japanese – provides a moment of beauty during early spring. While hanami is widely-practiced across Japan, Tokyo has many exceptional spots for viewing cherry blossoms, thanks to its many green areas with cherry trees. From late March until early April, people flock to a variety of parts of Japan to enjoy the floral snow.

In this blog, I’ll be helping you find the best spots for cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo, and will pin them on a map, so that you never lose your way. I’ll also be providing tips on how to have the perfect hanami experience in the Japanese capital. Enjoy!

Hanami – blossom viewing

What is hanami? Hanami means to see flowers in Japanese.

It is a tradition dating back to the 8th century, during the Nara period (710-794), when people first admired the abundant ume (plum) blossoms, which originally signaled spring, not specifically cherry blossoms.

In fact, the earliest Japanese poetry collection, the Man’yōshū, is centered around a plum blossom viewing banquet:

In my garden fall the plum-blossoms—
Are they indeed snow-flakes
Whirling from the sky?
The Host

By the Heian period (794-1185), hanami became more associated with cherry blossoms, as they became more popular in the country.

Today, hanami – blossom viewing – is a widespread practice across the Land of the Rising Sun, as people clamor to get a place under the canopy of a cherry tree.

A map to see the best spots to see Tokyo’s cherry blossoms

Here is a map detailing Tokyo’s cherry blossom spots and festivals that I’ll be talking about below. You can save this map for offline use so that you know where to go during the hanami season!

Why is Tokyo best visited in late March and early April 2020?

In April, Japan blossoms. Hanami – blossom viewing – lasts 10-14 days, between late March and early April.

In 2020, the Japan Meteorological Society forecasts that the arrival of the hanami season in Tokyo will be on March 22, with full bloom on March 29.

Tokyo Area Sakura Forecast: Updated March 21, 2019

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

It’s hard to be exact with events like this, but below is a map of last year’s dates to give you an idea. Late March is when the hanami season gets into full swing.

During this period of the year, the whole of Tokyo is packed with petals and people. Tokyo in April teems with life. The capital hosts several festivals and events during the hanami season, for example.

Across the many viewing spots in the city, people can also watch traditional Japanese stage performances, and buy food and drink at the many stalls located next to the cherry trees.

Many foreigners and locals flock to Tokyo in April to see its cherry blossoms. But because of this, cherry blossom viewing in the capital can quickly turn into an exercise of logistics, from looking for places to stay, to finding the best spots across the city for the actual hanami viewing!

Tips for hanami – blossom viewing – in Tokyo

Book your accommodation early!

Tokyo gets particularly hectic during spring, so try to book your hotel or hostel a month or two in advance. By doing so, you can save on accommodation costs, and ensure that you have a place to stay during the season. Rooms get sold out quickly, because foreigners and locals book them up.

Visit the viewing spots during the week

Viewing spots can get crowded during the weekend, because this is when most people have time to visit the cherry blossoms. Avoid the crowds by visiting the cherry blossom spots in Tokyo during the week instead.

Festivals are happening in several hanami spots

Several Tokyo cherry blossom spots hold festivals and events throughout the hanami season, but not every single one of them does. On the map, I’ve pinned the ones that have festivals.

Evening hanami includes yozakura

Yozakura means nighttime cherry blossom viewing in Japanese.

In the evening, many cherry blossom spots in Tokyo are illuminated until around 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm; the pinkish hue of their petals even more striking, against the projected lights.

Tokyo is a city that is alive, even during the night. While many associate this characteristic with the neon projections of its decadent nightclubs and bars, the practice of yozakura means that green spaces share this, too.

Bring warm clothing and an umbrella

The weather in spring can get quite unpredictable. Some days might be too warm, and others too cold. But it’s always better to be overdressed, with layers that can be removed. Bring a warm jacket in case it gets a bit chilly, and an umbrella in case it rains.

Buy hanami picnic equipment in convenience stores

These stores have cheap things for a perfect hanami experience, from the plastic mat you can lay on the ground to the hanami bento boxes that contain seasonal food. Yummy!

Best Tokyo cherry blossom spots

Central Tokyo cherry blossom spots

1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Crowd level: medium

A national garden in Shinjuku, this vast public space has about 1000 cherry trees from many different types of species. These include 400 someo-yoshino trees – the most common cherry blossom species in Japan – and 500 yae-zakura trees trees, which have blossoms of more than five petals.

Some bloom early, and others late. Thanks to its large variety of cherry trees, this park has one of the longest hanami periods in Tokyo.

Despite being very central and easily accessible from the JR Shinjuku station, this park is surprisingly calm and peaceful, with many visitors relaxing and having a picnic. Alcohol is not allowed, nor are music, pets and ball games.

2. Koishikawa Botanical Garden

Crowd level: low

These botanical gardens are owned and maintained by the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Science, and they don’t really get as popular as other hanami spots during the season. It’s not often visited by locals which makes it a great spot if you need some peace and quiet. This is because people need to pay an admission fee to get in, so they choose to go to other cherry blossom spots, instead.

It’s also worth noting that, the gardens are closed on Monday, and the whole place is family-friendly, so it’s a nice, quiet place to go with children.

3. Chidorigafuchi Green Way

Crowd level: high (but low if you take the boat ride)

Comprising the waterways and moats of the former Edo Castle, Chidorigafuchi is a popular spot for hanami, and has around 200 cherry trees stretching 700m along the promenade.

I suggest that you view the cherry blossoms from a boat, which you can rent from 9:00 am – until 8:30 pm. The trees are illuminated from sunset until 10:00 pm. During peak season, the petals of the sakura fall onto the Chidorigafuchi moats, creating beautiful spring scenery.

4. The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace

Crowd level: high

The gardens inside the former Edo Castle are one of the best places in Tokyo to see all kinds of Japanese flowers throughout the year. It is also a popular place for hanami, thanks to its beautiful cherry trees.

You don’t need to book a ticket in advance to see the gardens, unlike for the Imperial Palace. The gardens are always nice to visit, and at the Ninomaru Garden, there’s a nice big pond with koi carps.

Just outside the palace are the Chidorigafuchi moats, which I included above. If you hate boats and moats (you weirdo), the East Gardens are a great alternative, instead.

5. Yoyogi Park

Crowd level: high

One of Tokyo’s largest national parks, Yoyogi Park is situated around the Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku areas. It’s a popular place to hang out, no matter the season.

Home to 700 cherry trees, this park becomes a hotspot during the spring for hanami, and many people arrive in the early morning to make sure that they have a spot under the blooming cherry trees.

6. Yasukuni Shrine

Crowd level: high

One of the most famous shrines in Tokyo, the Yasukuni Shrine, was established in 1869 and inaugurated by the Emperor Meiji. It was built to commemorate and honor those who have dedicated their lives to Japan.

Fun fact: this shrine also has the sample cherry tree (image below) the Japan Meteorological Society observes to officially announce and update the start of the hanami season.

Source: https://soranews24.com/

During the festival, food and drink stalls line up throughout the whole place, and several cultural performances can be enjoyed.

7. Inokashira Park

Crowd level: high

Inokashira Park has around 500 cherry trees, half of which are located around a pond. Therefore, one of the best ways to see its cherry blossoms is from a boat!

The Kichijoji area, where the park is located, is also a popular place for young and trendy hipsters, as the number of stylish cafés, restaurants, shops and bars have increased in recent years.

8. Sumida Park

Crowd level: high

Sumida Park is a popular hanami spot, partly thanks to the view of the Skytree in the backdrop. The park is along the Sumida River.

1000 trees run for 1km on both sides of the river, and during the season, it is packed with crowds clamoring to get the perfect photo of the flowers and the Tokyo Skytree.

You can also take a boat cruise to see the cherry blossoms from the water.

Outside central Tokyo

9. Showa Kinen Park

Source: Japan Guide

Crowd level: Medium

Created at the site of the Tachikawa Airfield, Showa Kinen Park is expansive, and was opened in 1983 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa’s coronation. Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, it takes around 30 minutes to travel from central Tokyo.

Around 1500 cherry trees bloom during the season. One of the nice things about the Showa Kinen Park is that its cherry tree variants bloom a bit later than in central Tokyo, so you can head over to this lush park and experience it, later in the year.

In addition to its stunning cherry blossoms, there are many different flowers here that create a very lush and colorful scenery.

You must pay an admission fee to get in, though, so that’s something to keep in mind.

10. Asukayama Park

Crowd level: medium

While Asakayama Park is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo, it’s much less crowded than other touristy spots, like Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park. This is partly due to the more rural location of the park.

During the night, the 600 cherry trees across the park are illuminated. It is known as one of the first cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo to allow drinks and picnics.

11. Omiya Park

Crowd level: high

30 minutes north of Tokyo, Omiya Park is a popular hanami spot. Around 130 000 people visited the park during the cherry blossom season last year!

Understandably, Omiya Park can get hectic at times during the spring. The whole place is packed with food stalls, kids, teenagers, and adults.

Unfortunately, picnics are not allowed under the trees, and you can’t reserve a place by leaving a blanket or a sheet on the ground. But pets are allowed.

12. Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival

Crowd level: high

Boasting about 1200 cherry trees, the park is packed, with more than 2 million people coming to see the cherry blossoms throughout the hanami season. There are also many events and performances dedicated to cherry blossoms.

13. Bunkyo Cherry Blossom Festival

Crowd level: medium

In the Bunkyo ward, the first cherry trees along the Harima-zaka were planted in 1960 as part of a project to make the place greener. Today, more than 120 cherry trees bloom in late March.

This festival is lots of fun, with family-friendly events and musical performances. The roads are also closed to cars during the weekends, so that everyone can enjoy some of the best cherry blossoms Tokyo has to offer!

14. Bokutei Cherry Blossom Festival

Crowd level: high

This kilometer-long boulevard running from Azumabashi Bridge to Sakurabashi Bridge attracts huge crowds for its hanami festival. There are also food stalls and other booths run by local councils.

During the evening, there’s also the yozakura, so the cherry blossoms are illuminated. Of course, you can also take a boat to view the blossoms!

15. Chiyoda Cherry Blossom Festival

Crowd level: high

From late March to early April, the 700m of the Chidori-ga-fuchi Green Way will be illuminated to show over 260 cherry trees in full bloom, and night-time boat rentals will be available for those wanting to see the cherry blossoms along the path during the evening.

16. Midtown Blossom Festival

Crowd level: high A large, complex site located in Roppongi Tokyo, Tokyo Midtown includes a shopping center, offices, restaurants, residences and other businesses.

During the hanami season, a sakura festival takes place. There are several sakura-related events. They also celebrate yozakura, with illuminated cherry trees in the evening. It’s certainly a magnificent view, next to the tallest skyscrapers of the Japanese capital.

17. Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival

Crowd level: medium

The Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival happens around the Meguro River.

I think about the Japanese term sakura fubuki, which roughly translates to petal snow, whenever I see the Meguro River area during cherry blossom season. After all, the whole place is engulfed in a flurry of petals. And the trees are so densely packed around the river that whenever the wind blows, the petals whisked away do look like snow!

During the evening, you can stroll across the river to experience the yozakura. And of course, events abound, with food and drink stalls set up across the narrow streets.

See Tokyo in full bloom

Experience Tokyo in full bloom with this interactive map you can keep with you to see the cherry blossoms at the right time.

As always, if you ever need to find and save great restaurants, hotels and bars, while travelling in the capital, don’t forget to download TWISPER. Visiting Japan is best when you can enjoy the amazing cuisine!

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About the author Julian Canlas

Julian is a 20-something content strategist who loves to travel and write about online culture. Follow his journeys around the world and find more of his recommendations for amazing places to eat, sleep and drink on the TWISPER app.