Grab your camera, pack a picnic and prepare for your anime moment under the falling petals. We’ve put together a list of some of the best Tokyo sakura (cherry blossom) viewing spots to get you in the mood for spring.
While some people prefer busy places with a lively atmosphere, others prefer a quiet, relaxing chance to stroll under the cherry blossoms in Tokyo—so we have both covered. We’ve divided this list into the most popular spots—promising crowds, stalls and plenty of picnickers, and quieter sakura spots which will still have people, but not quite as many. There are even a few super-chilled places at the end and some slightly outside of Tokyo. Keep in mind, though, that “secret” and “sakura” are basically an oxymoron—Tokyo knows and loves its trees, so if it’s pretty, people will pitch up.
Pro tip: If you’d like to see sakura in their spiritual home, you can take a discounted bullet train ride down to Kyoto. But Tokyo is pretty, well, pretty, too in cherry blossom season.
When do cherry blossoms bloom in Tokyo?
For 2019, Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC)’s forecast for Tokyo puts first bloom at the 22nd of March, with the best sakura viewing times right around the 29th of March. Once again, in 2019 there have been rumors about early blossoming, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the temperatures.
There are some sakura varieties that bloom earlier or later than the common varieties these forecasts are focused on, so if you won’t be here at peak time, don’t worry. We’ve included some cool options for you below, and here are some handy sakura names to look out for when checking specific locations for cherry blossoms in Japan:
- Early Blooming: Kanzakura, Kawazuzakura and Kanhizakura
- Late Blooming: Ichiyo, Ukon, Kanzan, Shogetsu, Jugatsuzakura, Kikuzakura, Fugenzo
Regarding late-blooming, you might see the term yaezakura, which refers to cherry blossom varieties with dense petals. These happen to bloom later than the “standard” Tokyo sakura that have around five petals per flower.
Ways to admire the cherry blossoms in Tokyo
While it’s easy enough to stroll into a park, admire a cherry tree and then go on your merry way, there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of spring. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Hanami: This literally means “flower viewing” and is our favorite Japanese tradition (it’s a very cheapo-friendly one, too). You haven’t experienced Japan until you’ve had a picnic party under the sakura. These involve blue tarp, snacks and lots of drinks. Done best in parks, most gardens ban hanami, so check first. See our guide to hanami in Tokyo.
- Sakura Festivals: These provide food stalls, pretty lanterns and even entertainment (sometimes). Held around peak blossom season, a sakura matsuri is perfect if you want a slice of the summer-festival action a little earlier in the year.
- Yozakura: This refers to cherry blossoms that are illuminated at night, and offers a different take on the Tokyo cherry blossom-viewing experience.
- Hikes: Your best chance of seeing some quiet cherry blossoms in their natural habitat is to head out into the mountains for a spring walk. Pack a picnic and you’ve got yourself the perfect day out.
The 8 most popular places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo
While they’ll be busy and filled with blue tarp as far as the eye can see, these places are popular for a reason. Whether they have the best trees, the nicest rivers or the most picturesque boating lakes and cherry blossom tunnels, people will flock to them—and there’s no shame in joining. The bonus of going to some of the busier locations is the atmosphere—hanami parties with colleagues and students, families having a day out and people of all ages just enjoying the sakura bloom.
1. Ueno Park | 上野公園 | Hanami, festival and boating lake | Free
One of the most popular (and crowded) hanami spots in Tokyo, Ueno Park is where the sakura famously bloom a bit earlier. An estimated 800 cherry trees line the central path, and people picnic on both sides, using blankets or tarps to claim whatever space they can. If you time it right, you might be able to boat around the pond-lake thing too. Whatever you decide to do, our advice is to get there early, especially for picnics! Lanterns are strung up, so you can party on into the evening. See what else there is to do in Ueno.
Access: Close to Ueno Station—just follow the crowds!
2. Shinjuku | 新宿御苑 | Hanami | ¥500
If you’re keen on somewhere a little more peaceful, this is it. There are around 1,300 cherry trees, which bloom at different stages. Shinjuku Gyoen Park is spacious with nice big lawns and plenty of walking paths, so even when it’s crowded, you can still enjoy a chilled stroll under the sakura flowers. There’s an English garden, French garden and Japanese garden—head to the English one for the best picnic spots. The atmosphere here is much less rowdy compared to Ueno Park. Entrance to Shinjuku Gyoen is ¥500. See what else there is to do in Shinjuku.
Access: Shinjukugyoenmae Station (or Sendagaya Station) is just a few minutes’ walk away.
3. Imperial Palace East Gardens | 皇居東御苑 | Free
Although Inui Avenue is only opened on special occasions, the Imperial Palace’s East Gardens are open to public viewing for free. Some people have picnics there, but it doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a sakura picnic spot. Instead, the gardens’ size makes them suitable for a nice stroll. The sakura are a welcome touch of old Tokyo standing in contrast to all the concrete in nearby modern Marunouchi, Tokyo’s business district. Read our Imperial Palace guide.
Access: The palace being huge, there are several nearby stations: 5 minutes from Exit C13A of Otemachi Station | Exit 1A of Takebashi Station | 10 minutes from Exit 6 of Nijubashimae Station | the Marunouchi North Exit of Tokyo Station.
4. Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park | Festival and boating lake | Free
Chidorigafuchi is one of Tokyo’s most scenic sakura spots—and also a place where you can hop in a boat and row your date (or lazy friends) around an Edo-era moat, which comprises the northeastern part of the Imperial Palace. If you’re wobbly on the water, you can mosey along the 700m-long footpath instead, ooh-ing and ah-ing your way through the tunnel of cherry blossoms.
The park next door is called Kitanomaru Park, and, like the Imperial Palace’s East Gardens, is a place for quiet sakura viewing. The controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which also has loads of cherry blossoms, is nearby—despite its politically loaded status, it draws a lot of tourists during cherry blossom season. Every year, there’s a cherry blossom festival around the Chidorigafuchi and Yasukuni area that goes on until nighttime.
Access: Kudanshita Station.
5. Sumida Park | 隅田公園 | Hanami and river cruises | Free
The area stretching from Azumabashi Bridge to Sakurabashi Bridge on the Sumida River is a super-famous hanami spot, and has been for centuries. More than 1,000 cherry trees line the river, making for great photo ops and picnics. You can also see Tokyo Skytree from here. The area can get very crowded—if you feel frazzled, duck out and take a mini-cruise on one of the yakatabune boats.
Access: Asakusa Station.
6. Inokashira Park | 井の頭公園 | Hanami and boating lake | Free
This park in Kichijoji, a suburban Tokyo neighborhood, is renowned for its beauty in spring. Approximately 500 cherry trees surround a central pond, and when the blossoms start falling, the sakura petals spread out over the pond to carpet it in pink. You can go boating while appreciating the scenery. The swan-shaped boats are a favorite among couples, but be warned—superstition says that couples who go boating in the park are doomed to break up. This is because Benzaiten, despite being the goddess of love, apparently has a jealous streak, and hates seeing couples being all lovey-dovey in a park dedicated to her. If boating or breaking up is not your thing, you can have a cherry blossom picnic or see the blossoms from the park’s bridges.
Access: Kichijoji Station.
7. Meguro River | 目黒川 | Festival and evening illuminations | Free
Four kilometers of the Meguro River are home to more than 800 cherry trees, which make for a unique sight (in Tokyo, at least—go to Kyoto if you want to see countless canals surrounded by cherry blossoms). This area is even more beautiful at night when the trees are lit up, making it a favorite date spot. See our yozakura post for more information on the nighttime illumination at Nakameguro—and here’s a drive-by video if you’re keen on a preview.
Access: Ikejiri-Ohashi, Meguro, or Naka-Meguro Station.
8. Koishikawa Korakuen | 小石川後楽園 | ¥300
One of Tokyo’s oldest, this well-preserved park is famous for weeping cherry trees, a special varietal. Koishikawa Korakuen is suited for scenic appreciation, not picnics (which aren’t allowed), but they do have a tea house where you can enjoy some matcha while leisurely checking out the flowers in bloom. Read more about Koishikawa Korakuen.
Access: Korakuen or Iidabashi Station.
14 off-the-beaten-path places to see Tokyo sakura
These locations are not as well known, at least for international tourists, so if you want a less-crowded cherry blossom experience, consider adding a couple to your itinerary.
1. Showa Kinen Park | 昭和記念公園 | Hanami | ¥410
If you’re keen on getting out of Tokyo central, or miss the main sakura season by a few days, you can always check out Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa, about 40 minutes by train from Shinjuku. It’s huge, and has 1,500 cherry blossom trees—you might see some daffodils, tulips and lavender too. A great way to explore the park is by renting a bicycle when you arrive. This costs around ¥400–¥500. Read our guide to Showa Kinen Park.
Access: Tachikawa Station.
2. Asukayama Park | 飛鳥山公園 | Festival and hanami | Free
This hidden park’s hanami history goes back a long way—it’s been a favorite local spot since the Edo period. Asukayama Park’s cherry blossom festival features food booths, performances, contests and tea ceremonies.
Access: The park is right next to Oji Station and Asukayama on the tram line as well.
3. Yanaka Cemetery | 谷中霊園 | Hanami (in some places) | Free
Flower viewing in a cemetery? That’s possible in Yanaka Cemetery near Ueno. The place has been relatively popular among locals for quite some time now, as its main path is lined with cherry trees, leading it to be called Cherry Blossom Avenue. If you’ve grown used to the image of cemeteries as places of gloom and solemnity, you’ll be surprised to see (some) people having picnics here. If you think about the symbolism behind the cherry blossom, it doesn’t seem too unusual—the short-lived sakura is a reminder of the transience of life, after all. Just be as respectful as possible if you decide to drop by this place. See what else there is to do in Yanaka.
Access: Nippori Station.
4. Kasai Rinkai Park | 葛西臨海公園 | Hanami | Free
Tokyo’s largest central park, Kasai Rinkai is just a station away from Tokyo Disneyland. Its vast space and other attractions (a Ferris wheel, observatory, and bird sanctuary) make it an ideal location for family outings. Read more about Kasai Rinkai Park.
Access: A short stroll from Kasai-Rinkai-Koen Station.
5. Mt. Takao | 高尾山 | Hike | Free
You might want to consider a day trip to the closest mountain to Tokyo, which is less than an hour away from Shinjuku. Mt. Takao provides great views of the Kanto region and Mt. Fuji, and in spring, those views can get even more picturesque with cherry blossoms framing the sights. See our sakura hikes article for more ideas.
Access: Takao Station / Takaosanguchi Station.
6. Sotobori Park | 外濠公園 | Hanami | Free
Between Iidabashi and Yotsuya stations, this thin stretch of park runs along the Kanda riverside and becomes a cherry blossom-filled haven in spring. At just over 2km, it makes a perfect hour-long walk, with plenty of hanami parties from students of the nearby Hosei University to get you in the festive mood. The park features Edo Castle ruins, as well as around 700 Somei Yoshino cherry trees. It gets busy, but you might find the northside riverside path a little quieter.
Access: The park is a few minutes’ walk from Iidabashi or Yotsuya Station, with Ichigaya located right in the middle. Iidabashi is 12 minutes from Shinjuku Station on the JR Chuo/Sobu Line.
7. Yoyogi Park | 代々木公園 | Hanami | Free
Surprisingly, Yoyogi Park is not actually one of the top sakura places in Tokyo, as the very urban park is known more for general gatherings and bazaars than its flora. That said, it has about 600 cherry trees, including an early blooming variety that’s a darker shade of pink than the Somei Yoshino, which is the most common kind of cherry blossom you see in Japan. Read our guide to Yoyogi Park.
Access: The park is easily accessed from Harajuku/Meijijingumae Station.
8. Ojima Komatsugawa Park, Tokyo | 大島小松川公園 | Festival | Free
Mainly known for its recreation fields and castle-like structures, Ojima Komatsugawa Park straddles the Kyunaka River. As you may have learned, a river is a good sign for cherry blossoms in Japan. Once a marshland, the park was redeveloped and is now home to around 1,000 cherry trees, nicknamed the Senbonzakura and planted as a sign of regeneration. A mini-festival is held during the first week of April, featuring horseback archery. While this park may not be as popular as the more famous Tokyo sakura sites, you’ll still need to claim your pitch early if you’re planning a proper cherry blossom viewing party.
Access: The park is 5 minutes from Higashi-Ojima Station, which is 30 minutes from Shinjuku on the Toei Subway Shinjuku Line.
9. Hibiya Park | 日比谷公園 | Free
Near the Imperial Palace, Hibiya Park is 16 hectares of beauty–and as it’s not a major hanami spot, it’s great for the less gregarious cheapo. The park precincts include the Shinkei and Kumogata ponds, a playground, and a number of Yoshino cherry trees.
Access: The park is easily reached from Hibiya Station, Kasumigaseki Station and Yurakucho Station.
10. Komazawa Olympic Park | 都立駒沢オリンピック公園 | Hanami | Free
Used as the second venue of the 1964 Olympics before being opened as a public park, this is a great open space filled with Somei Yoshino cherry trees. There are around 200 mature trees in the park and many line the cycle route, meaning you can combine your blossom viewing with a relaxing cycle or run through tunnels of pink. As well as blossoms, Komazawa Olympic Park is the site of an annual ramen festival, although unfortunately not at the same time.
Access: 10 minutes from Komazawa-Daigaku Station, which is 7 minutes from Shibuya on the Tokyu Den-en-Toshi Line.
11. Kinuta Park | 砧公園 | Festival and hanami | Free
Way out in Setagaya, Kinuta Park has over 900 sakura trees including Somei, Yoshino, Yamazakura and Yaezakura varietals. When you get your fill of the food stands, bird sanctuary and kids’ playgrounds, amuse yourself by seeing whether you can spot telltale signs that the 80-year-old park had a past life as a golf course.
Access: Yoga Station on the Den-en Toshi Line.
12. Hamarikyu Gardens | 浜離宮 | Early blossoms | ¥300
Flanked by the gleaming spires of the Shiodome business district on one side and Tokyo Bay on the other, Hamarikyu Gardens is definitely one of the more unusual parks. It’s a short walk from the old Tsukiji Fish Market, and apart from the few dozen sakura that grace the lawns, there are also several large ponds and a saltwater moat to check out. If you’re in the area between February and the start of cherry season, go see the nanohana (rapeseed), one of Japan’s lesser-known astounding blooms. There is also, for tree nerds, a 300-year-old pine to go hug.
Access: The gardens are a 10-15-minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station or 5-10 minutes from Shiodome Station.
13. Rikugien Garden | 六義園 | Illuminations | ¥300
Rikugien Garden is almost four centuries old, and home to a vast and beautiful weeping cherry blossom that is illuminated at night during the sakura season. While the tree is lit up, the park is open until 21:00 (but be advised if you’re out at night, it’s still spring and it gets chilly after dark). If you are there during the day, you can check out the Tsutsuji no Chaya tea house.
Access: The gardens are a few minutes’ walk from Sengoku Station or Komagome Station.
14. Koganei Park | 小金井公園 | Festival and hanami | Free
This 200-acre park is the second largest in Tokyo, and during hanami season, you can tell: the spacious lawns are a favorite spot for blossom-viewing picnics. There are upwards of 1,700 cherry trees, with over 50 varieties–including Yoshino, Sato and wild cherry trees. If you get tired of looking at sakura or need a break from the crowds, the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architecture Museum is nearby. To get your festival on, be there on Sunday in the first week of the Tokyo cherry blossom season.
Access: The park is about half an hour’s walk from Musashi-Koganei Station or Higashi-Koganei Station, but it is not, please note, anywhere near Koganei Station.
Cherry blossom day trips near Tokyo
If you’re happy to head a little further afield, these two day trips make for awesome spring adventures.
1. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kanagawa | 鶴岡八幡宮 | Early and late blooming
Not only is this the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura, it is one of the most beautiful in spring as it has a 500m approach lined with blossoms. This final stretch is known as Danzakura and is home to lots of younger trees. Although some newly-planted trees are not quite up to full blossom yet, it is still pretty and you can stroll through the grounds to find more trees near the garden ponds. These are older and include very early- and late-blooming sakura varieties, so it’s good if you’re not visiting at peak season.
The shrine is free to enter and is one of the top sights in Kamakura at any time of year, so you can enjoy it with an added bonus of blossom. There are not many food stalls here and it’s more of a quiet appreciation type place, so bring a snack if you’re planning on spending time under the cherry trees. See what else there is to do in Kamakura.
Access: The shrine is 10-15 minutes from Kamakura Station along Danzakura Street. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Kamakura from Shinagawa Station, with a change at Totsuka or Ofuna.
2. Omiya Park, Saitama | 大宮公園 | Festival and hanami | Free
One of the top 100 spots for cherry blossoms in the whole of Japan, this park is far enough out of Tokyo that it misses some of the crowds. There are over 1,000 Yoshino cherry trees lining paths through the park, which are illuminated in the evenings. There is also a boating lake which allows for some picturesque sakura-viewing opportunities, although you might have to queue for a spot.
Since it’s such a popular place, there are plenty of food stalls set up during the cherry blossom period, with all the festival favorites and seasonal treats, and plenty of people hold hanami parties at weekends. Omiya Park is free to enter and doesn’t close, so you don’t have to worry about being booted out just as you’re getting settled. Read more about Omiya.
Access: The park is a few minutes’ walk from Kita-Omiya Station, which is about 35 minutes from Shinjuku with a change at Omiya.
Bonus: 2 Little-known mini Tokyo sakura spots
Not even official parks, these are tiny cherry blossom corners that are perfect if you find yourself in the area and wouldn’t mind adding some Tokyo sakura to your day. They aren’t exactly worth traveling for, but will definitely be quiet!
Kitazawagawa Ryokudo Green Road
A small culverted river that’s a tributary to the more famous Meguro River, this is a quiet and pleasant spot with some cherry blossoms lining the hidden waterway. Popular with local children and dog walkers, it might not be worth a trip on its own, but if you’re in the area, it is certainly worth a stroll and makes a great lunch spot.
Running parallel to the busy Keyaki-zaka, Sakura-zaka is a walking path with around 75 cherry trees to stroll beneath. Thanks to its more residential surroundings, it’s nothing like the busy cosmopolitan streets you might associate with Roppongi. The trees are illuminated in the evenings, so if you’re out in Roppongi for the night, a nice stroll might be the perfect end to your day. See what else there is to do in Roppongi.
Tokyo sakura video guide
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This post was originally published in March, 2015. Last updated in January, 2019. Special thanks to Lily Crossley-Baxter and Kylie van Zyl for their help.
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