At last—hanami season is here! 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 blossoms) viewing spots to get you in the mood for spring. If you’d like to see sakura in their spiritual home, you can take a budget bullet train+hotel tour down to Kyoto. But Tokyo is pretty, well, pretty, too.
While some people prefer busy spots with a lively atmosphere, some people prefer a quiet, relaxing chance to stroll under blossoms—so we have both covered! We’ve divided the list into the most popular spots—promising crowds, stalls and plenty of picnickers, and quieter spots which will still have people, but not quite as many. There are even a few super-chilled spots at the end and some slightly outside of Tokyo. Keep in mind though that “secret” and “sakura” are basically an oxymoron—Tokyo knows its trees, so if it’s pretty, people will know about it. You can still find some more relaxed parks though, so read on for the most comprehensive list in the city!
When will cherry blossoms start in Tokyo?
For 2018, Weather Map Co.’s forecast for Tokyo puts first bloom at the 22nd of March, with the best viewing times right around the 28th of March. For the rest of Japan, check out our 2018 nationwide cherry blossom forecast. There have been a lot of rumors about early-blossoming, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the temperatures.
There are some varieties that bloom early and later than the common varieties these forecasts are focused on, so if you won’t be here at peak time, then don’t worry. We’ve included some locations below and there are some common names to look out for here when looking up specific locations:
- 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 varieties with dense petals, which also happen to bloom later than the flowers with around 5 petals per flower.
Ways to admire the blossoms
While it’s easy enough to stroll up to a park, admire a tree and then go on your merry way, there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of things. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Hanami: it literally means, “flower viewing” and is our favorite Japanese tradition (and it’s a very cheapo-friendly one too). You haven’t experienced Japan until you’ve had a party under the sakura. They involve blue tarp, snacks and lots of drinks. Done best in parks, most gardens ban this as it damages grass, so check first!
- Sakura Festivals: This guarantees a lot of food stalls, pretty lanterns and even entertainment sometimes. Held around peak blossom season, it’s perfect if you wanted a slice of the summer-festival action a little earlier.
- Yozakura: this refers to blossoms illuminated at night and is a different take on the blossom-viewing experience.
- Hikes: Your best chance of some quiet blossoms in their natural habitat is to head out into the mountains for a Sakura hike. Pack a picnic and you’ve got yourself the perfect Spring day out!
The 8 most popular cherry blossom spots in Tokyo
Here are the most popular places to get your blossom fix in Tokyo. While they’ll be very busy and filled with blue tarp as far as the eye can see, they’re popular for a reason. Whether they have the best trees, the nicest rivers or the most picturesque boating lakes, 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 merry colleagues and students, families having a day out and people of all ages enjoying the blossom. While it may not exactly be a relaxing experience, it can be pretty fun to join the crowds of Tokyoites to see the famous sights, eat the food stalls and even make a few hanami friends! Don’t worry though, we have some quieter alternatives too!
1 | Ueno Park | 上野公園 | Hanami, festival and boating lake | Free
One of the most popular (and crowded) hanami spots in Tokyo, where the trees 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.
Access: Close to Ueno Station, you just need to follow the crowds!
2 | Shinjuku Gyoen | 新宿御苑 | Hanami | 200 yen
If you’re keen on somewhere a little more peaceful, this is a good place. There are around 1,300 cherry trees—a whole bunch of different varieties—which bloom at different stages. The 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 blossoms. 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, so you can enjoy your picnic in peace. Entrance to Shinjuku Gyoen is 200 yen.
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 picnic spot. Instead, the gardens’ size makes them suitable for a nice stroll. The sakura are a welcome touch of ancient Tokyo standing in contrast to all the concrete in Marunouchi, Tokyo’s business district.
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 may be difficult to pronounce, but it’s one of the city’s most scenic hanami 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 path, ooh-ing and ah-ing your way through the tunnel of cherry blossoms. The park next to it is called Kitanomaru Park, and, like the Imperial Palace’s East Gardens, is a place for quiet viewing. The controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which also has loads of cherry blossoms, is also nearby—despite its politically loaded status, it still 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 crowded—if you feel frazzled, you can duck out and take a mini-cruise on a yakatabune boat.
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 trees surround a central pond, and when the blossoms start falling, the petals spread out over the pond to carpet it in pink. You can go boating around the pond while appreciating the scenery. The swan-shaped boats, in particular, are a favorite among couples but be warned—a superstition goes that couples who go boating in the park are doomed to break up. This is because Benzaiten, despite being the goddess of love, has a jealous streak, and hates seeing couples being all lovey-dovey in a park dedicated to her. If boating’s not your thing, you can have a 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 out of the 7.82 km length of the Meguro River is 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 this a favorite spot for couples. Even if you don’t have a date, go and marvel at the blossoms anyway, you don’t need a hand to hold to appreciate their beauty! See our yozakura post for more information on the nighttime illumination at Naka-Meguro and here’s a drive-by video if you’re keen to see what it’s like!
Access: Ikejiri-Ohashi, Meguro, or Naka-Meguro Station
8 | Koishikawa Korakuen | 小石川後楽園 |
One of Tokyo’s oldest parks, this well-preserved park is famous for weeping cherry trees, which aren’t exactly a common type of cherry tree. This park is suited for scenic appreciation, not picnics (which aren’t allowed in the first place), but they have a tea house where you can enjoy some matcha while leisurely checking out the flowers in bloom.
Access: Korakuen or Iidabashi Station
Slightly off the beaten path
These locations are not as well known, at least for foreign tourists, so if you want a less-crowded cherry blossom experience, check these out.
1 | Showa Kinen Park | 昭和記念公園 | Hanami | 410 yen
If you’re keen on getting out of Tokyo central, or miss the main hanami season by a few days, you can always check out this park in Tachikawa (about 40 minutes from Shinjuku). It’s huge, and has 1,500 cherry blossom trees—you might even see some daffodils, tulips and lavender too! A great way to explore the park is by renting a bike for around 500 yen per day.
Access: Tachikawa Station
2 | Asukayama Park | 飛鳥山公園 | Festival and hanami | Free
This park’s hanami history goes back a long way; it’s been a favorite local spot since the Edo period (in the 18th century). Its cherry blossom festival features food and beverage 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? Sounds unusual, doesn’t it? But that’s totally possible in this large cemetery near Ueno. This cemetery 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 people having picnics here. If you think about the symbolism behind the cherry blossom, it doesn’t seem too unusual anymore—the short-lived sakura is a reminder of the transience of life.
Access: Nippori Station
4 | Kasai Rinkai Park | 葛西臨海公園 | Hanami | Free
Tokyo’s largest central park, Kasai Rinkai Park is just a station away from Tokyo Disneyland. Its vast space and other attractions (a Ferris wheel, an aquarium, observatory, and a bird sanctuary) make it an ideal location for family hanami picnics.
Access: Take a short stroll from Kasai-Rinkai-Koen Station
5 | Mt. Takao | 高尾山 | Hike | Free
Why don’t you go on a hiking day trip to the closest mountain to Tokyo, which is just 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! Be sure to check out our blossom hikes article for more ideas!
Access: Head to Takao Station / Takaosanguchi Station
6 | Sotobori Park | 外濠公園 | Hanami | Free
Running between Iidabashi and Yotsuya stations, this thin, green stretch of park runs along the Kanda riverside and becomes a blossom-filled haven in spring. At just over 2 km it makes a perfect hour-long walk in the city, with plenty of hanami parties from students of the nearby Hosei University to get you in the festive mood. The park is home to Edo Castle ruins as well as around 700 Somei Yoshino cherry trees. It gets very busy, so you might find the northside riverside path a little quieter if you’re actually trying to get somewhere.
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
While this is not one of the top hanami spots in Tokyo, as this very urban park is usually known more for gatherings and bazaars than its flora, it has about 600 cherry trees. It even has 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. Last year, it bloomed a week earlier than the forecast date. Yoyogi Park‘s also famous for picnics, but this park gets extremely crowded, and the blossoms pale in comparison to other popular hanami picnic spots.
Access: The park is easily accessed from Harajuku or Yoyogi 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, this park straddles the Kyunaka River, and as you may have learned, a river is a good sign for cherry blossom. Once a marshland, the park was redeveloped and is now home to around 1,000 cherry trees, nicknamed the Senbonzakura—planted as a sign of regeneration. During blossom season, a mini-festival is held during the first week of April and food stalls are set up to feed the crowds. There is a temporary stage and locals perform as well as horseback archery. While it may not be as popular as the famous spots, you will still need to claim your pitch early if you’re planning a proper 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 sixteen hectares of beauty–and as it’s not a major hanami spot, it’s great for the less gregarious cheapo. The park precincts include 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, it is home to some of the city’s best sports facilities and also 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 nine hundred 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 sights that the 80-year-old park had a past life as a golf course in the 1960s. It’s a twenty-minute walk from Yoga Station.
Access: The park is a few minutes’ walk from Yoga Station on the Den-en Toshi Line
12 | Hamarikyu Gardens | 浜離宮 | Early blossoms | 300 yen
Surrounded by the gleaming spires of the Shiodome business district on one side and Tokyo Bay on the other, the Hamarikyu Gardens is definitely one of the city’s more unusual parks. It’s a short walk from 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 nanohama, 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 yen
While not a major hanami spot, Rikugien Garden is almost four centuries old, and home to a vast and beautiful shidae-zakura 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, check out the Tsutsuji no Chaya tea house.
Access: The gardens are a few minutes’ walk away 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 over 1,700 cherry trees in the park, with over 50 varieties–including Yoshino, Sato and wild cherry trees. If you get tired of looking at sakura or just 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 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
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 blossom. 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 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. Unlike some spots, there are not many food stalls here, it’s more of a quiet appreciation, so bring a snack if you’re planning on spending some time here under the trees.
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.
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, the park is a popular spot and 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. They have a boating lake which allows for some picturesque viewing opportunities, although you might have to queue for a spot. Since it’s such a popular spot, there are plenty of food stalls set up during the blossom period with all the festive favorites and seasonal treats, and plenty of people set up for Hanami parties at weekends. The park is free to enter and doesn’t close, so you don’t have to worry about times – and people certainly arrive early enough to bag themselves a good spot!
Access: The park is a few minutes’ walk from Kita-Omiya Station, which is about 35 minutes from Shinjuku with a change at Omiya. On a nice day, you might prefer to walk from there!
Little-known mini spots
Not even official parks, these are some little spots that are perfect if you find yourself in the area and wouldn’t mind adding some blossom 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 Nakameguro River, this is a quiet and pleasant spot with some 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 and even borders a children’s play area nicknamed roboroboen. 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 an evening.
Bonus: See our suggestions for less-conventional ways to enjoy sakura season.
This post was last updated on March 7, 2018. Special thanks to Lily Crossley-Baxter and Kylie Van Zyl for their help!
|Name:||Cherry Blossom Viewing Places in Tokyo|
|Location(s):||Asakusa, Otemachi, Sendagaya, Shinjuku, Tachikawa, Ueno,|
|Show All Locations Mentioned|
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