Grab your camera 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 parks and gardens 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.
When do cherry blossoms bloom in Tokyo?
For 2021, Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC)’s most recent forecast for Tokyo puts first bloom at the 15th of March, with the best sakura viewing times right around the 23rd of March.
Keep in mind there are some sakura varieties that bloom earlier or later than the common varieties that the forecasts are focused on. 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 sakura, 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 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 typical 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 and are done best in parks. Note that 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. (Note: Most sakura festivals are canceled for 2021 due to anti-COVID measures).
- Yozakura: This refers to cherry blossoms that are illuminated at night, and offers a different take on the Tokyo cherry blossom-viewing experience. (Major illumination events will be canceled for 2021.)
- 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.
Most popular places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo
While they’ll be busy, 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.
Note: Some popular parks and gardens that usually make the list—like Shinjuku Gyoen, Imperial Palace East Gardens and Koishikawa Korakuen—have been left off for 2021 because they are temporarily closed.
1. Ueno Park | 上野公園 | 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 typically picnic on both sides, using blankets or tarps to claim whatever space they can. However, in 2021 no picnicking will be allowed.
Access: Close to Ueno Station—just follow the crowds!
2. Chidorigafuchi and Kitanomaru Park | 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 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.
The annual cherry blossom festival, illumination and boating at night around the Chidorigafuchi and Yasukuni area has been canceled for 2021.
Access: Kudanshita Station
3. Sumida Park | 隅田公園 | Free
The area stretching from Azumabashi Bridge to Sakurabashi Bridge on the Sumida River is a super-famous cherry blossom viewing 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.
Sumida Park’s 2021 sakura festival has been canceled.
Access: Asakusa Station
4. Inokashira Park | 井の頭公園 | 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.
Access: Kichijoji Station
5. Meguro River | 目黒川 | 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). Here’s a drive-by video if you’re keen on a preview.
The famous nightly illumination display is canceled for 2021.
Access: Ikejiri-Ohashi, Meguro, or Naka-Meguro Station
12 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. Asukayama Park | 飛鳥山公園 | Free
This hidden park’s hanami history goes back a long way—it’s been a favorite local spot since the Edo period. It has 600 trees and a monorail that goes from the entrance to the hilltop.
Access: The park is right next to Oji Station and Asukayama on the tram line as well.
2. Yanaka Cemetery | 谷中霊園 | 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
3. Kasai Rinkai Park | 葛西臨海公園 | 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
4. 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
5. Sotobori Park | 外濠公園 | 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. 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.
6. Yoyogi Park | 代々木公園 | 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.
7. Ojima Komatsugawa Park | 大島小松川公園 | 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.
Access: The park is 5 minutes from Higashi-Ojima Station, which is 30 minutes from Shinjuku on the Toei Subway Shinjuku Line.
8. 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.
9. Komazawa Olympic Park | 都立駒沢オリンピック公園 | 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. Note: Picnics are banned for 2021.
Access: 10 minutes from Komazawa-Daigaku Station, which is 7 minutes from Shibuya on the Tokyu Den-en-Toshi Line.
10. Kinuta Park | 砧公園 | Free
Way out in Setagaya, Kinuta Park has over 900 sakura trees including Somei, Yoshino, Yamazakura and Yaezakura varietals.
Access: Yoga Station on the Den-en Toshi Line
11. Rikugien Garden | 六義園 | ¥300
Rikugien Garden is almost four centuries old, and home to a vast and beautiful weeping cherry blossom. The annual illumination festival at Rikugien is canceled for 2021.
Access: The gardens are a few minutes’ walk from Sengoku Station or Komagome Station.
12. Koganei Park | 小金井公園 | 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.
Access: The park is about a half 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 farther 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 500 m 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 | 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. There is also a boating lake which allows for some picturesque sakura-viewing opportunities, although you might have to queue for a spot.
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: Two little-known mini sakura spots in Tokyo
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 March 2021. Special thanks to Lily Crossley-Baxter and Kylie van Zyl for their help.