Counting down to your trip to Tokyo this spring? Here’s our list of the best cherry blossom viewing spots, including Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, and more!
Fun Fact: “Hanami” translates to “flower viewing”, and has come to mean sakura appreciation in Japan. Popular practices include having picnics in public parks, and eating seasonal hanami bentos.
#1 Ueno Park
Ueno Park is a 133-acre public park located next to Ueno Station in central Tokyo. There are about 1,000 sakura trees that line the main boulevard and surround the Shinobazu Pond. The park is located within Toeisan Kaneiji Temple, and you can access the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum from there.
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#2 Imperial Palace
Visit the home of Japan’s imperial family! Also known as the Kokyo, the Imperial Palace sits where the previous Edo Castle did, and includes a beautiful park surrounded by a moat. The sakura trees are at the park areas around the moat, so we recommend you rent a boat and paddle along the moat waters. The view is stunning, but could cost you several hours in waiting time during peak hanami season (aside from rental fees).
There are also several sakura trees at the nearby East Gardens and Kitanomaru Park.
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#3 Sumida Park
The Sumida River is sometimes known as the Sakura River, and this is thanks to the 640 cherry blossom trees in Sumida Park, which is just along the river. The park is also between the Azumabashi and Sakurabashi bridges, and you can see the pink foliage from both sides of the river. You can either have a picnic at the park, or take a boat ride–the river is part of the public transport system, ferrying locals between Asakusa and Odaiba districts.
Also within walking distance is the famous Sensoji Temple, which has sakura trees in its gardens too.
#4 Inokashira Park
This park is a picture of serenity and tranquility, and a top spot for cherry blossom viewing since the Edo period. It is in western Tokyo, and is 95 acre large. The crowd here is typically quite young, as there are several local universities located nearby. There is the Inokashira Pond within the park where you can rent a swan-shaped boat.
Fans of Spirited Away and Hayao Miyazaki creations can visit the Ghibli Museum on the southwestern end of the park.
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#5 Meguro River
Nakameguro is a hip residential district that’s recently gained popularity with youths for its many cafes and local boutiques; especially the stretch under the railway tracks. During springtime, the riverside is illuminated with bright lights for the night cherry blossom celebrations. Viewing sakura after sunset is called yozakura, and typically involves festive lanterns to light up the pink and white blossoms.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
(admission fee: 200 yen / S$2.50)
Here’s one more super popular spot to see sakura! Admission is not free, but it is just S$2.50 to enter the stunning nature park.
Smacked right in the heart of Tokyo’s urban business district, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is located just across the street from Shinjuku Station. At 144 acres, it is one of the biggest and most impressive national parks in the country. There are over 1,500 sakura trees of different varieties, making this park a great place for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). Different sakura have different blooming schedules, so the more the varieties, the higher your chance of catching at least one in full bloom.
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