As March drew to a close, Japan anticipated the imminent blooming of the first sakura trees. The beautiful process tends to begin in the south of the country where the climate is warmer. Over the months of April and May the trees begin to gradually blossom throughout the entire nation. During this time, millions of locals and tourists will flock to parks and squares to view the cherry blossoms in all of their glory. These blossoms don’t last much longer than a week at a time, making catching a glimpse of these beautiful, yet fleeting, blossoms an absolute must. This romantic and stunning natural phenomenon is an incredibly popular Japanese past-time and has become an increasingly popular spectacle amongst tourists. If you are considering relocating to Japan, the blooming of the cherry blossoms is sure to be a sight that you will appreciate for years to come. Here are the best destinations in Tokyo to watch the blossoms burst into bloom.
Chidorigafuchi Moat/Yasukuni Shrine
The Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery is a memorial for the unidentified dead of the Second World War. The site is located near the outer moat of the Imperial Palace and the Yasukuni Shrine. Despite the sombre connotations of this destination, it is also one of the best places in Tokyo to witness the iconic Japanese spring cherry blossoms. Take the Sakura Walk past the Imperial Palace, along the moat and to Yasukuni Shrine, where you will see the tree used to tell the official start of the Cherry Blossom season. There are around 260 cherry trees lining this stunning path and at night the blossoms are lit-up to create a fairy-tale boat ride along the moat for locals and visitors alike.
As one of Tokyo’s largest public areas, Uenokoen Park is an incredibly popular destination to witness the best of the spring blossoms. The grounds were originally a part of the Kaneiji Temple, one of the wealthiest and largest family temples of the Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. The temple was said to protect Tokyo from evil and the grounds are treated with great love and care. There are an impressive 1000 cherry trees lining the central pathways of the park. Large parties of hamai (cherry blossom viewing) flock to this central park in order to enjoy the beauty of the blooming pink sakura trees. With three museums and a zoo on site too, it is no wonder why the park is so popular.
The Shinjukugyoen Park was originally a residence of the Naitō family during the Edo period. This park is under the jurisdiction of the national Ministry of the Environment and is one of the largest parks in Tokyo. The gardens are a blend of French and English landscaping styles, with a traditional Japanese tea house to be found within the grounds. Of the 20,000 trees in the park, there are 1,500 cherry trees that draw in huge crowds from late March to early April that usually open one to three days ahead of the other spots in the city. When the delicate petals fall from the tree, the blossoms turn the green of the garden floor to a gorgeous pink.
Megurogawa River side walk
The Meguro River flows through central Tokyo and flows into Tokyo Bay. The banks are utilised as much as possible as an urban green space for inner-city communities. Around 800 cherry blossom trees line the Meguro River for hundreds of metres, creating a truly amazing sight. The trees stretch over the river, making a boat trip during cherry blossom season a magical experience. Like Chidorigafuchi, the trees are lit up in the evenings to create a soft pink glow that reflects romantically on the surface of the river.
Sumidagawa River side walk
Along the Sumida River, there is parkland that stretches for a few hundred metres along either side. The Sumida Park features around 1,000 cherry blossoms and visitors can view the blooming trees in all of their beauty from either side of the river, or even from the river itself. Many prefer to enjoy the start of spring by taking a cruise along the river in order to view the blossoms in all their beauty. Located close to the Tokyo Sky Tree, it’s a great place to absorb the relaxed atmosphere of spring and take a casual stroll amongst the sakura trees. Once the trees are lit up at night, the park becomes an awe-inspiring sight for miles around.
If you’ve missed the fleeting cherry blossom period in Tokyo, there’s no need to panic – you can catch these delicate flowers in other parts of the country during March, April and May. The blossoms tend to bloom in the southern cities of Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Fukuoka first in mid to late March. Typically, the sakura trees begin to bloom gradually as the best of the weather moves north. Sendai, Aomori and Sapporo are some of the last cities to witness the blooms, with the trees blossoming into the first half of May. If you are desperate to witness the iconic pink flowers for yourself, take a trip to some of Japan’s finest northern destinations.