With first bloom forecast for this Friday (!!), this weekend is all about early hanami.

A “flower viewing” picnic party under the cherry blossoms is the quintessential experience of spring in Japan. It’s also one of the cheapest things to do in the city. So gather (or hire) some friends and get out there!

Check out our Top 5 Hanami Spots for ideas on where to go, or head down to one of these other popular places:

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Yoyogi Park – an estimated 600 cherry trees, and thousands of trendy young things crammed under them.

Inokashira Park – around 1,000 cherry trees, and swan boat jams in the pond.

Koishikawa Korakuen – A traditional Japanese garden that doesn’t offer much in the way of picnic spots, and doesn’t have heaps of trees, but does have weeping cherries – well worth seeing. You can have your actual hanami at the pleasant and spacious Koishikawa Botanical Garden – similar in name, but in a different area.

Asukayama Park – historical, on a hill, hundreds of trees – and they’re lit up at night.

Meguro River – hundreds of trees line the canal/river (from Nakameguro), and they’re lit up at night – it makes for a pretty stroll (but there isn’t really anywhere to have a picnic).

If you can’t be bothered to venture far, your local park probably has a few sakura trees too. It’s not too late to catch the last of the plum blossoms at Yoshino Baigo either.

If you’re keen on experiencing another Japanese tradition, sign up for the free Aunkai Bujutsu Beginner’s Seminar – a martial arts event happening in Nerima on Sunday

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