Brunch at Stall Nakameguro

It really is true what they say about spring. It brings the best changes!

In the past few days, we’ve started feeling the first signs of spring in Tokyo. After a colder than usual winter that brought some very snowy days, we had our first ‘warm’ day of the year last week. It feels so good to be outside when it’s sunny and 20 degrees! Continue reading “Brunch at Stall Nakameguro”

Tokyo in Bloom: Meguro River

I headed to Naka-meguro one evening last week. It was a spontaneous decision, and as I sat on the bus, half asleep after a long, tiring day at work, I wondered whether I really should have been pushing myself so much just to see some flowers. Continue reading “Tokyo in Bloom: Meguro River”

City of Lights: Tokyo in Winter

My Top 6 Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo

No. 6 – Yebisu Garden Place

In the trendy district of Ebisu lies a shopping complex by the name of Yebisu Garden Place. Yebisu is a popular Japanese beer, and there used to be a brewery here about 25 years ago. The winter illuminations aren’t too extensive, but there’s no doubting the very Christmasy feel! This year they have a ginormous crystal chandelier displayed – the largest made by Baccarat!

No. 5 – Shinjuku Southern Terrace

Number 5 on my list is the colourful lights at Shinjuku Southern Terrace. Location, location, location! These lights are right outside Shinjuku Station and therefore attract A LOT of people! I love the light-covered gardens and shrubs, and the huge rainbow of Christmas trees. If you can manage to get a window seat inside Starbucks or Krispy Kreme, it would be a great vantage point for people watching as well!

No. 4 – Omotesando

Omotesando is a glitzy part of town where designer stores line a long, straight street. Grand trees on either side of the road stretch as far as the eye can see. In summer, the trees are full of vibrant, green leaves. Then in winter, the bare branches are transformed into glowing towers. The first thing you notice is how tall these trees are! And then you think, how much effort went into putting all of these lights around the trees?! But I for one am grateful to all the people that worked hard to prepare the illuminations as it is a stunning sight!

No. 3 – Tokyo Midtown & Roppongi

I didn’t make it to Roppongi this year, but last year’s lights left a lasting impression on me. The blue field of lights that seemingly jump into the air at Tokyo Midtown was beautiful. Roppongi Hills is a favourite for Tokyoites, year after year. The view from the overpass looking down the road with Tokyo Tower in the distance is worth braving the cold for!

No. 2 – Marunouchi

Marunouchi is the business area next to Tokyo Station. During the day, it might be all about work, but at night, it’s another story. At 5pm, it turns in an illumination heaven! This year, they have been at the top of the national popularity rankings. The theme is “Disney Timeless Story”, and throughout the whole Marunouchi area, there are Disney-themed displays where you can get your photo taken with characters. Just be prepared for some waiting! The Frozen display, with statues of Anna and Elsa, had a waiting time of 2 hours! Outside on the street, Marunouchi-naka Dori is lined with what they call ‘champagne gold’ lights. Very fancy!

No. 1 – Naka-Meguro!!!

The inaugural ‘blue cave’ at Naka-Meguro was just as impressive as it sounds. During spring, the Meguro River comes alive as the cherry blossoms overhanging the canals bloom. Those same trees have been turned into 500 metres of BLUE BLUE BLUE! It really is something else. I was completely blown away and enjoyed the the very dreamy and magical vibe it created! Although the LED lights are hard to look at when there’s so many of them, it was definitely the best illumination display in my book!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twinkle

Sakura: Short and Sweet

The cherry blossoms have almost all disappeared now. I feel like it was over before it even started! I guess that’s part of their charm – their beauty is fleeting. Seeing the petals fall off the trees and get swept away by the wind is always sad. Most years, the sun does a good job of bringing a much welcomed warmth to push out winter, but this year, the cold has persisted and the chilly nights are still lingering. The weather has been up and down, teasing us for weeks with a few warm days. I’ve only recently stopped using my heater. Hopefully I can put it away for good. Dammit, I’m ready for summer! … I might regret saying that come August.

Going snowboarding at the start of April meant missing the peak of the sakura in Tokyo. I had an awesome time in Hokkaido, so I don’t regret it at all, but it just shortened the already short time we have to see the flowers! To give you more of an idea on just how brief their life is… The season officially started on March 25. This is when the buds first started to open up. The peak was predicted to be April 5, but the forecasters can never be 100% accurate, and in the end, full bloom was declared on March 30. By April 8, about 50% of the petals had fallen, and by April 10 it was basically all over in Tokyo.

There are actually hundreds of varieties of sakura trees. Some bloom earlier, while others bloom well after the main varieties have long gone. Even though it’s already coming to the end of April, there are still one or two late blooming varieties that can be spotted here and there. The varieties differ not only by blooming time, but also colour, number of petals, shape of the petals and shape of the tree. And of course, depending on where in the country they are, they bloom either in March (southern Japan), April (central Japan) or May (northern Japan).

March 16 @ Setagaya

Setagaya blossoms
Kawazu-zakura: early spring bloomer

March 29 @ Naka-Meguro

April 5 @ Setagaya

Sakura-lined entrance
Sakura-lined entrance

April 6 @ Akiruno & Fussa, Western Tokyo

April 8 @ Meguro

April 10 @ Showa Memorial Park, Tachikawa

April 10 @ Koganei Park

April 12 @ Lake Sagami, Kanagawa

April 16 @ Setagaya