Updated: Jan 15, 2022
Touring Tokyo and a Journey through Japan-- these are two books I have written about my travels in Japan. Check these out!!!
Spring is Approaching
The last bout of the stinging cold winter has almost come to an end in February. During the early month of December until late February, Japan experiences frigid temperatures that require you to bundle up. As the winter comes to a close, Spring is right around the corner. In fact, this is the season many people all over the world anticipate because of the exquisite cherry blossoms.
Some posts on this site may contain affiliate links. If you purchase or book something through these links, I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).
Beauty of Spring
This is the special time people cherish the moment of absolute beauty. If you want to have a magical time in Japan, visit the fantastic country around March and April. Japan is by far a very common country for hanami (flower viewing). Specifically, the largest city of Japan, Tokyo, is a magnificent and breathtaking place to view the dazzling and gorgeous sakura or cherry blossoms.
1. SHOWA KINEN PARK
Tokyo’s Largest Park
The first area I would recommend for hanami viewing is the Showa Kinen Park This park is arguably considered the largest park in the megalopolis Tokyo. Created in 1940 and opened in 1983, this vast area located in Tachikawa boasts and astounding 1,653,000 square meters. The vastness of the area allows for a huge variety of activities and exhibits. Many people are attracted to this spectacular park not only by the beautiful flowering tree garden, the unique Rainbow pool, the cool Japanese garden, Komorebi Hill (Glade Hill), Fureai Field (Friendship field), open field, serpentine area, children’s forest, waterfowl lake, children’s playground, Komorebi village (Glade village), Sports area, the Emperor Showa Memorial Museum, floating garden (roof), Hanami dori cultural center, field of dreams, and the dog run area. During the months of March and April, this entire area encompasses gorgeous flowers and a magnificent 1500 cherry blossom trees of 30 different varieties. The cherry blossoms are the main reason why local residents and tourists visit Show Kinen Park.
Given the expansiveness of the park, it is easy to invest an entire day. The day I went to the park, I noticed the influx of people enjoying the magnificent scenery. I observed people with high end cameras and lenses meticulously taking photos of the cherry blossoms, Japanese people practicing martial arts, people walking their dogs, people doing yoga, and people picnicking under the cherry blossom trees.
Showa Kinen Park has 5 gates: (1) Tachikawa Gate, (2) Sunagawa Gate, (3) Nishi-Tachikawa Gate, (4) Tamagawa JosuiGate, and (5) Akishima Gate.
How to get there?
Showa Kinen park is between a 19- 24 minute walk from the JR Tachikawa station. If you are in Tokyo, and you are at Shinjuku station, for instance, there are several train routes you can take. First, you can board the Keio Line (limited express toward Keio-Hachioji. You will exit the train at Bubaigawara and transfer to the JR Nambu Line train (local toward Tachikawa). Then you will exit the train at Tachikawa. Second, you can board the JR chuo line limited express (Kaiji 23 toward Kofu). Exit train at Tachikawa and transfer to the Ome line. (local toward Oku-Tama). Then you will exit train at Higashi-Nakagami (after Nishi-Tachikawa. Once there, the walk to the Showa Kinen parkis about 19 minutes. Third, instead of taking the JR chuo line limited express (Kaiji 23 toward Kofu), you can take the Omeline (local toward ome) on the JR Chuo line limited express. The rest is the same as the second option.
2. KAJINA DORI AVENUE
The second place I would recommend for hanami viewing is Kajino-dori Avenue. When I travel all over Tokyo, I have discovered hidden gem places that are surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms. While walking to the Koganei Park, I spotted countless rows of cherry blossoms on Kajino-dori Avenue, which is the same road you take to reach the Higashi-KoganeiJR train station. That day the avenue was flooded with people taking photos of the cherry blossom trees.
Two Cherry blossom spots in 1 hour time span
During the month of March and April, you can view cherry blossoms in two places in a 1 hour time span: Kajino dori-Avenue and Koganei Park. When you reach the end of the Kajino dori-Avenue, turn left and walk for about 14 minutes until you see the park sign on the right on Josui Sakura-doriStreet, where you will be able to view more Cherry blossoms.
How to get to Kajino-dori Avanue
From the Shinjuku train station, you will board the JR Chuo Line (local toward Takao). You exit at the North exit at the Higashi-Koganei. Then you will walk down Kajino-dori Avenue for about 3 minutes and you should locate the cherry blossoms on the right side.
3. KOGANEI PARK
Tokyo’s Second Largest Park
The third area I would recommend for hanami viewing is 小金井公園 Koganei Park. Arguably considered the second largest park in Tokyo, and containing over 2,000 cherry blossom trees, this 196 acre place is filled with lively people during the Months of March and April. Additionally, you can find plum trees during the month of March. People will flock to this park during these months to picnic under the cherry blossom trees and photograph the pink scenery. Not only that, there is a huge flower area that contains all kinds of beautiful types of flowers. Additionally, children have found heaven at this place. There is a long sledding 17 degree hill that is made out of turf. Hundreds of kids will enthusiastically slide down this hill. Along the park, you can find 16 tennis courts, baseball fields, and an archery. The Koganei Park offers a lot for nature lovers, photographers, and kids.
Edo Period History
Like Showa Kinen Park, Koganei Park offers museum tours. For instance, the park is famous for the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, which was created by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1993. The museum features three zones consisting of historical buildings that mirror the edifices during the Edo Period. These buildings include the traditional Japanese residences, farms, and city residences on the West Zone, the visitor center and the 1902 residence of a Christian politician named Korekiyo Takahashi in the Central Zone, and the business district including the Shitamachi- naka dori as well as features the koban (police) baths (sento) and bar display in the East Zone.
How to Get to Koganei Park.
From the Shinjuku train station, you will board the JR Chuo Line (local toward Takao). You exit at the North exit at the Higashi-Koganei. Then you will walk about 31 minutes to Koganei Park.
4. SHINJUKU GYOEN
The fourth place I would recommend for hanami viewing is the Shinjuku Gyoen, which was erected in 1906. This magnificentnational park was originally utilized as the imperial garden during the Edo period and it is a great park for viewing the countless cherry blossom trees. Similar to Showa Kinen Park, there are about 1500 cherry blossom trees in Shinjuku Gyoen. The park is uniquely designed in three theme like styles: (1) English landscape, (2) French formal, and (3) Traditional Japanese gardens. First, the English garden is a British lush landscape that is replete with cherry blossom trees. Second, the French formal garden boasts a wonderful flower garden containing about 500 spectacular red, white, pink, and yellow flowers with an amazing 110 species. The garden mirrors gardens in Europe. Third, the Japanese gardens comprise of bridges, ponds, and a beautiful open scenery including the Japanese trees. You can find the Chinese style Kyu-Goryotei(old palace).
Three Access Areas
Shinjuku Gyoen can be accessed by three areas: (1) Shinjuku, (2) Sendagaya (South) and (3) Okido (North). There is a small fee of 200 yen entrance fee though. The low price is definitely worth it because of the vast landscape and features that it offers. The park opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m.
5. YOYOGI PARK
A Spacious Park
The fifth place I would recommend for hanami viewing is Yoyogi Park, which is about a 5 minute walk from the Harajuku train station. In fact, the park is next to the serine Meiji Jingushrine. The spacious and beautiful Yoyogi Park (considered the 3rd largest Park in Tokyo) features over 700 cherry trees, which are in full bloom around late March and early April. I went to Yoyogi Park on March 2, 2019 and some of the trees were already in full bloom.
The day I travelled to Yoyogi Park for the cherry blossom viewing, I had planned to attend a food festival at the park. Needless to say and to my frustration, the food festival never occurred. I had plans to observe the cherry blossoms during the middle of March at Yoyogi Park, but my time came quicker than I realized. Usually by the first of March, there are not a lot of cherry trees in full bloom at the park. However, I proved myself wrong.
Picnics and Photographers
When I found the cherry trees in the park, I noticed there were hundreds of people lying down on blankets on the ground and they were enjoying their homemade lunch. Many of the people bring home cooked foods to the picnic and they enjoyed them with friends and families. The crowds that day were overwhelming as people (including novice and professional photographers) crowded around the glowing cherry trees holding their cameras that were attached to large lenses. The looks of their camera set up quickly told me they were perhaps making money off of the photos they took. I fit in the same category too.
Happiness in the Air
Nevertheless, the stunning cherry trees just gave people a reason to be happy and enjoy the nice and warm temperatures that day. The sunshine beaming upon the cherry trees was a sign that spring was here. Early in the morning, there was a cool breeze; however, by the end of the afternoon, the breeze had lifted and the sun was penetrating from the skies.
When you go to the park, you may be amazed by its sheer size. Next to the cherry blossom trees were several ponds. Beautiful water fountains were springing from the bottom of the pond therefore sparking a lot of attention. People were not only taking photos of cherry blossoms, but the water fountains as well.
Shortly after viewing the Cherry blossom trees, I started my journey out of the park. Near to the end of the park though I heard some noise and there was a crowd of people huddled around this Japanese magician. I walked over and observed his stuns. He had placed a board on a black roller. There was a glass of water ducked taped in the center of the board. With music playing, the magician gradually stands on the board and meticulously balances himself. I was in shock. While standing, he reached down and grabbed some pink objects out of his jacket and tossed them into the glass of water that was on the board. The area exploded with an applause as many were shocked that the act was even possible. Watch my video on the magician performing the stunt.
How to get to Yoyogi Park
After exiting the Harajuku station, turn right. You will proceed straight until you see a bridge on the right side. Proceed straight and you will be looking at the famous Meji shrine. Instead of going through the entrance, you will turn left. You will proceed straight until you reach a corner to the right. As soon as you make that turn, you will be looking at the Park. There is a bridge walk way on both sides. If you see the right side of the stairs that go up to the bridge, you are in the right area.
6. HAMARIKYU GARDENS
The sixth place I would recommend for hanami viewing is the浜離宮恩賜庭園Hamarikyu gardens. This gorgeous, tranquil, and large 662 acre public oasis park is nestled at the mouth of the Sumida River near the Shiodome district. The meticulously well landscaped park that is surrounded by green moat is located about 10 minutes from the famous old Tsujikifish market, which is the world’s largest fish market. The spectacular garden boasts as the largest of the gardens in Tokyo. Encompassing the entire gardens, you can find a great number of cherry blossom trees.
Sakura Ice cream
Next to the Hamarikyu loading dock, you may be able to find a vendor that sells sakura ice cream. While touring the Hamarikyu gardens, I was able to try the cherry blossom ice cream. It was very unique and delicious at the same time. When you put the ice cream in your mouth on a hot sunny day, the ice cream seems to dissolve in your mouth. I said in my cherry blossom video about Yoyogi park that “you must try the cherry blossom ice cream.” I was referring to places like the Hamarikyu garden, where you can find some cherry blossom ice cream.
Not only can you view the magnificent cherry blossoms and eat cherry blossom ice cream, but also you can learn about the history of the place. Historically, the area of the Hamarikyuwas a shallow water area. In 1654, however, that all changed when letsuna’s younger brother, Tsunashige Matsudaira, from the 4th Tokugawa Shogun created a vast saltwater tidal (pool) pond and constructed a villa on the gardens. This garden was called the Kofu (Japanese for beach pavilion) Hama-yashiki. Kofu was a city south west of Tokyo. Tsunashige was the current leader of the Kofu. During the Edo period, the palace was a great duck hunting ground. There were two duck hunting grounds: (1) Koshindo-Kamoba and (2) Shinsenza-Kamoba. Eventually though the Tokugawa shogun family owned the property when Tsunashige’s son, Ienobu, took over. As a result, the Gardens was renamed as Hama-Goden(Beach Palace). Throughout time, the shoguns constantly made important changes to the park. Subsequent to the MejiRestoration (1868-1912), the Gardens became the detached Palace of the imperial family. The gardens was renamed this time as the Gardens Hama Detached Palace or Hama RikyuOnshi Teien. Unfortunately, both the Japanese bombing of the Gardens during World War II and the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 left the Gardens in devastation. The Imperial family graciously donated the Hamarikyu Gardens to the city of Tokyo; and, in 1946, the Gardens was made public.
How to get to Hamarikyu Gardens
If you are coming from the Shinjuku station, you will board the Toei Subway Oedo Line (Toward Tocho- Mae via Roppongi/Daimon). You will then exit the train at Tsukijishijo, which is after Shiodome. The Hamarikyu garden is about an 8 minute walk from the Tsukijishijo. The Hamarikyu gardens is a 17 minute walk from the Shimbashitrain station.
7. AOYAMA CEMETERY
Cherry blossoms and Famous people
The seventh place I would recommend for hanami viewing is the Aoyama cemetery. The last place you would consider a top 10 location would be a cemetery. However, when you visit to this place, you will discover the beauty of it due to the countless cherry blossom trees surrounding it. What is unique about this place is not only the cherry blossoms but also because there are famous people buried there. There is a dog statute positioned in front of the Shibuya train station. This dog statue has a long history. There was a university professor named Ueno who owned a dog named Hachiko. Every day, Hachiko would walk with Ueno to the train station. While Ueno would go to work, his dog stayed at the train station. When Ueno returned back to the station after work, his dog was patiently and happily waiting there. One day though Ueno did not make it back to the train station. In fact, he suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. That was the last day Hachiko saw his owner. The dog Hachickowaited at the train station for 10 years before he passed away. Hachiko’s owner was buried at the Aoyama cemetery. Furthermore, John Manjiro, the first Japanese person to travel America is also buried at Aoyama cemetery.
8. MOHRI GARDEN
The eighth place I would recommend for hanami viewing is theMori Garden, which is very popular among tourists. Romance is in the air as couples have their photos made with them positioned in front of a large gold heart that is on the side of a pond. While admiring the shiny heart, you can marvel over the gorgeous cherry trees from March to April. The Cherry blossom season runs for two months and then cherry blossoms begin to shed. You cannot only enjoy amazing shopping at RoppongiHills, but you can also enjoy nature as well. The Mohri Garden is a perfect place for couples, single people, and families. When I visited the Mohri Garden I was able to reflect upon the beauty and escape temporarily from the busy Roppongi street life.
The beautiful, tranquil, quaint, and romantic green oasis is richly filled with years of history. During the Edo period, a feudal lord named Hidemoto Mohri resided in a villa in the area. The traditional Edo period like garden was uniquely donated by a Japanese astronaut named Dr. Mamarou Mohri. Containing a voluminous 3,400 square meters, a nice pond lies in the center. Inside the pond lies extraterrestrial fish called Medaka fish or Japanese killifish are descendants of fish born in space. In 1994, 4 Medaka were caught in ponds in Japan and taken up to space. An experiment was conducted concerning a thorough examination of the birth of fish vertebrates in space. While in space, the fish hatched their eggs. The fish dramatically multiplied when in space. On July 25, 2003 after returning back to earth, the astronaut successfully released 10,000 of Medakafish into the ponds.
9. SUMIDA PARK
The ninth place I would recommend for hanami viewing is the (隅田公園) Sumida Park, which is located in Asakusabetween Sakurabashi and Azumabashi bridges. For many years, people have been observing the hanami overlooking the Sumida river. There are over 600 cherry trees at this park. Along the river, you will find fully bloomed cherry trees.
View of Iconic Landmarks
One reason why the park has become immensely popular is that the offers a spectacular view of the Sensoji Temple and the Tokyo Skytree tree during the day time. I must say, however, that the views seem to be much better at night. The night cherry viewing or the yozakura has become very popular at the Sumida Park. You will understand what I mean when you go to this park at night. Not only will you observe the magical pink cherry blossoms at night but you will also view the pink Tokyo Skytree as well. Both the cherry blossoms and the Skytree combined make such a magical and phenomenal photo.
How to get to Sumida Park?
The Park is about 7 minutes from the Toei Asakusa line Honjo-Azumabashi Station and about 10 minutes from the Tobu Skytree Station.
Having examined all of the hot spots for hanami, you must go there before the sakura trees shed their leaves. The sakura trees bloom for about 7-10 and then fall to the ground. You do not want to miss the opportunity of viewing the sakura trees and experiencing a piece of Japan during the Sakura season.
10. MEGURO RIVER
The tenth place I would recommend for hanami viewing is the Meguro River. Along this beautiful river, you will find tunnel of around 800 exquisite and shiny cherry trees lining the river. The Meguro is another popular spot for tourists. Like many of the parks in Tokyo, people become very elated when they have the opportunity to view the cherry trees at night.
Cherry blossom Night Illumination
One of the Cherry blossoms held at the Meguro river is called the Nakameguro Sakura Matsuri. Along the river, you will find strings of pink paper bombori lanterns that make a perfect set up for the yozakura. When the night falls, the lanterns illuminate the pink cherry blossoms.
Crowded Hanami Spot
Interestingly, the Meguro River is small and there are hardly not a lot of people in the area. However, during the Cherry blossom season, this area becomes very packed as you will observe large crowds congregating at the bridge. In fact, the area is full of so many people, it is difficult to sometimes get some fantastic shots of the Cherry trees. That shows though how popular hanami is in Tokyo.
Sakura related foods for Sale
Along the river, you will find variety of food vendor stalls that are selling sakura related foods. These foods are a must while staying Tokyo.
How to get to the Meguro River
Take the Yamanote line to Meguro station. Then after taking the west exit, the river is about a 5 minute walk.