The Spring Season in Tokyo with Cherry Blossom “Sakura”
By Andrew Smith on 27 Mar 2017
Japan loves to boast about its four seasons, but perhaps its most notable is spring. This time of year is highlighted by the beautiful cherry blossoms in late march. Japanese people love it so much they fight their allergies just to spend time under the delicate, pink blossoms before they disappear at events call “hanami”. Hanami parties are celebrated with lots of delicious food and drinks. Festival booths around popular viewing areas sell alcohol and traditional Japanese festival food during the peak season. Usually groups sit on giant blue tarps under the trees.
The fleeting nature of the cherry blossoms makes it difficult to plan a trip for travellers from abroad. Fortunately Japan carefully tracks the weather year-round to most accurately predict the peak time for cherry blossoms. Generally, the cherry blossoms bloom around the end of March in the Tokyo area, but to be sure, websites like “Otenki Navigator” or the “Sakura no Kimochi” app are useful tools for getting your travel schedule in order. As early as January, the Japan Meteorological Corporation publishes cherry blossom forecasts for popular viewing sights all around Japan. Obviously the southern parts of Japan will see the cherry blossoms in full bloom first, around mid-march. Cherry blossoms can be seen up in Hokkaido as late as the end of April. Depending on your schedule, you may want to head north or south to view beautiful Japanese blossoms in all their glory.
Ueno is one of the most well-known parks in Japan thanks to its large zoo and festivals being held there throughout the year. However, Ueno Park really shines during cherry blossom seasons. With over 1,200 Japanese cherry blossom trees welcoming viewers from around Tokyo and the surrounding area, Ueno is definitely one of the top places to visit in spring for the cherry blossoms. Festival booths add to the lively atmosphere are people celebrate the new season together. Due to its popularity Ueno Park is extremely crowded, so you’ll have to arrive early to get a spot to eat under the blossoms.
For a more peaceful viewing experience Shinjuku Gyoen is a great option. Though it is also crowded, no alcohol is allowed inside the park making the walk a little quieter. From the park you can see famous Shinjuku landmarks such as Docomo Tower. The juxtaposition of the big city in the backdrop of the beautiful nature and color of the park is a sight to see. Like Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen is home to an astonishing number of cherry blossoms, but what differentiates the two is Shinjuku Gyoen’s variety of trees. For true nature lovers and photographers, Shinjuku Gyoen is the place to be.
Yoyogi Park is an obvious pick for hanami parties. Its proximity to Japanese youth culture hotspots like Harajuku and Shibuya make it popular among young people. Here is alcohol is flowing, and everyone is having a good time. The parks popularity also makes it one of the most international locations to enjoy cherry blossom viewing in the spring season. Local Japanese people, loosened up by a few drinks, enjoy making new friends with foreigners and travellers from all over. Yoyogi Park is a great place to experience Japanese culture while taking in the beautiful nature.
Meguro River is a popular destination year-round for its luscious cherry blossom trees along the river. During the spring season, around 800 cherry blossom trees hang over the river and pedestrians gently swinging in the breeze. The seemingly unending canopy of pink petals overhead covers the hoards of crowds that come to catch a glimpse. As the season comes to an end, the delicate petals fall and gently float down the river turning the water below almost entirely pink. Even if you miss the peak weekend for the blossoms it is still a sight to see. Since the river runs through the city, traffic is controlled to ensure viewers have a safe and pleasant experience.
Being a bit outside the city relative to the others, Inokashira Park is more popular among locals. Year after year, Kichijoji is voted as one of the best places to live in Tokyo. That’s partly because of its proximity to this lovely park. Like Ueno, Inokashira Park also has a zoo with plenty of animals excited by the spring season and all the visitors. The kind of cherry blossoms found at Inokashira Park bloom with a slightly darker pink hue. They also bloom at bit earlier than others making it a great place for people to view the blossoms before the busiest part of the season kicks off. Around the park, there are plenty of shops and performances to entertain viewers as they walk under the blossoms. Many people also enjoy hanami parties here. The park is very close to Kichijoji Station on the Keio Line or JR Chuo Line.
Loveinn Japan wish you have a fantastic Spring Hanami time in Japan.
Andrew is an American writer living in Tokyo, Japan. He often finds himself wandering home from a livehouse after missing the last train. As an outdoors enthusiast, musician, traveler and editor, he stays pretty busy, but he is still always looking for new things to try. The only thing more unorganised than his schedule is his room.