What an incredible week! In the last weekend of March, the cherry blossoms were just beginning to bloom, and everyone was excited and ready to welcome spring’s annual masterpiece. The sunshine only lasted for a few days before the rain clouds took over. And now, the green leaves have sprouted, marking the beginning of the end of the cherry blossoms’ short but very sweet life.
Rather than travel outside of the city, this year I made it my mission to stay in Tokyo and see as many famous as well as not so well-known sakura spots as I could. The result? One very intense, fun, amazing week of adventures! I was afraid I’d go into sakura depression after the season had finished, but actually I just feel very fulfilled! I can’t believe how much these flowers transform the city. It’s truly one of the most beautiful natural phenomena.
Here are 10 of my favourite cherry blossom spots in Tokyo city…
#1 – Sengawa River in Setagaya
I happened upon this river a few weeks ago and noticed all of these bare cherry blossom tree branches overhanging the canal. I could just imagine how it would look in spring and knew I had to come back once the sakura season started. I’m very glad I did! The mirror reflection of the sakura in the water against the blue sky was so picturesque! It reminded me of the famous canal at Naka-Meguro, but without any of the crowds! Definitely one of the best kept secrets in Tokyo.
#2 – Harimazaka, Bunkyo
This street is also not one of the most well-known of spots for sakura viewing, but it deserves a lot of attention. The two sides of the street as well as the median strip is lined with trees, making three rows of sakura! Traffic was not so bad, so it was actually quite a nice spot to sit down for a picnic.
#3 – Sumida Park, near Tokyo Sky tree
Sumida Park actually spreads across both sides of the Sumida River. Half of the park lies near Asakusa, while the other half is close to Tokyo Sky tree. There’s a small garden on the Sky tree side that really blew me away with its gorgeous sakura trees, which perfectly framed the giant 634 metre tower!
#4 – Ark Hills, near Roppongi Itchome
I was actually on my way to Roppongi Hills when this area caught my eye. Although it was raining, these rows of trees were beautiful against the night sky and city lights.
#5 – Ueno Park
Ueno is notorious for its crowds. I was going to skip this park but thought I have to go at least once! And it was a good choice! At dusk, the lake was really beautiful. It was fun to weave through the crowd, but I wouldn’t want to be one of the picnic parties that have to get there at a ridiculously early time to reserve their spot!
#6 – Chidorigafuchi, the Imperial Palace moat
This area of the Imperial Palace is one of the most iconic sakura spots in Tokyo. It actually felt more congested than Ueno Park since the pathways here are narrower and people (myself included!) want to stop every 5 metres to take a photo. The garden designers for the Emperor definitely knew what they were doing when they planned this spectacular sight!
#7 – Nakameguro
The Meguro River has been voted the most popular sakura viewing spot in recent years. And for good reason. The canal near Naka-meguro is lined with cherry blossoms. From the bridges that connect the two sides, you get an incredible ‘tunnel’ view of the sakura. The crowds here are intense and you have to be very patient if you want that perfect shot! Luckily, there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby where you can unwind in after having battled the masses.
#8 – Senzoku Pond
A friend introduced me to this very family-friendly and beautiful area. We had a lot of fun taking a row boat around the lake and soaking up the warm spring weather. This lake is rich with history and was featured as a ukiyo-e print in the One Hundred Famous View of Edo in the 1800s.
#9 – Rikugien
Rikugien is one of Tokyo’s top 9 strolling gardens. In spring, the giant weeping cherry blossoms are the star attractions. I didn’t even bother seeing the rest of the garden – this monster of a tree was incredible on its own. I arrived late afternoon and was able to see the colours on the tree change numerous times as the sun went down. It was mesmerising!
#10 – Koishikawa Korakuen
This is another of the top strolling gardens in the city. It’s surrounded by modern skyscrapers, but still manages to keep a very peaceful feel to it. I love how there are so many hidden areas of this garden – it’s a great place to explore!
The season is not finished just yet. I still hope to get to some of the lakes around Mt. Fuji in the coming weeks, where the sakura bloom a little later. But for now, spring holidays are over, and it’s back to work!