Why don’t you take a trip to Tokyo, Japan this Spring and enjoy a dream trip with a Hanami – the famous cherry blossoms festival that declares the arrival of spring every March.
This year, this fleeting explosion of natural beauty is expected to flower around the 22nd (and peak around the 29th,) and will attract millions of passionate locals. So how can visitors get in on the action? Here are some idyllic locations that will guarantee an unforgettable experience.
Taking the Perfect Stroll
While the popularized image of Hanami is of people lounging on picnic blankets in parks, admirers can also enjoy cherry blossoms throughout surprising locations. In fact, along Meguro River are 800 cherry trees that spread over the area, making it an unforgettable place to take a stroll. Taking a rowboat along the historic Chidorigafuchi moat at the Imperial Palace makes way to vivid close ups of the pink hued blossoms that hang over the shoreline and beautifully contrast with the water, greenery and even the skyline. Modern spots like Tokyo Midtown presents a tunnel of 150 trees to enjoy from a variety of vantage points while you head to the complex to go shopping or dining. While the collection of 75 trees of Roppongi Sakurazaka in Roppongi Hills sounds modest in comparison, the meandering path and picturesque landscaping makes it one of the most romantic to traverse, especially at night. For a unique view from above, visitors are urged to take the monorail through Asukayama Park.
Spreading Out with the Locals
The fleeting two weeks of Hanami bring out people across generations to celebrate in Tokyo’s many expansive parks. Perhaps the most well-known among them is Ueno Park, where over 1000 cherry blossom trees spread across a vast 133-acres, along with food stalls, boisterous performers, and traditional lanterns that light up in the evening. For visitors looking for sheer space, Yoyogi Park – the largest park in the city – is a sure bet for those looking to stake out a corner of their own. Shinjuku Gyoen wins in terms of variety and endurance, with its 65 kinds of blossoms that peak at different times during the season. When it comes to sheer immensity, the 1,500 trees at Showa Kinen Park are perhaps unbeatable on their own merit, but the park’s Hanami also coincides with a flower festival, which guarantees a feast for the eyes. For a peek into history, the 17,000 trees of Koganei Park surround the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum, whose buildings look like they’re out of a scene from Spirited Away.
Pairing Views with Food
With cherry blossoms everywhere, finding a delicious restaurant to enjoy with the views is easier than one might expect. The famous oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl) at Hashidaya in Nakameguro may draw visitors on its own, but this restaurant also presents fantastic views of the cherry blossoms from its upper levels. The blossom-laden grounds of Happo-en, with its tea houses, pagodas, and even centuries-old bonsai trees, is also is home to Thrush Café, whose classy French cuisine helps fill the senses. Restaurants like Canal Café alongside the Kagurazaka canal offer special menus that are inspired by the Hanami season. Sublime izakaya in the middle of Inokashira Park is the perfect place to enjoy small Japanese dishes with grand views. The many yakatabune that traverse the Sumida River serve traditional food and drink, along with striking vistas of seemingly never-ending trees against backdrops like the Tokyo Skytree.