Hanami or cherry blossom viewing is the most important spring event in Japan, cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese) often being considered a symbol of spring in Japan and a symbol of Japan in general. Also known as the cherry blossom festival, during hanami people gather in groups and hold parties under the cherry blossom trees, often in special places in parks. But, you can also admire the beautiful cherry blossoms at certain temples or near certain rivers, where the reflections of the trees in the water create a marvellous view.
This and the pleasant weather makes this season the most popular season to come to Japan. So it can get really crowded. If you are planning a trip to Japan during the cherry blossom season, better start early (for example one year in advance) in order to find good rooms and decently priced flight tickets.
I was lucky to already be in Tokyo during this season so I tried to go to as many places as possible and see/take photos of the delicate sakura. They usually last for only one week from the end of March to the beginning of April so I didn’t have a lot of time either. I want to show you the places that I loved most and I recommend for you to see as well if you have the chance.
1. Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑
I mentioned Shinjuku Gyoen before, when I was writing about autumn leaves viewing. Being relatively close to the dorm, our dorm organized a hanami party here with good food and a good atmosphere. And of course, a photo shooting was compulsory in such a beautiful place.
2. Ueno Park 上野公園
When you think of Hanami in Tokyo, Ueno Park is one of the most popular places. I didn’t attend any party there but I went to see the atmosphere, when I was going back from my baito (part-time job). And although it was raining, people went on with their parties, enjoying the company of work/school mates and beer/sake/chuhai (Japanese alcoholic drink).
3. Roppongi Sakurazaka 六本木桜坂
The fancy Roppongi couldn’t be omitted from the list, as it offers a special line of sakura trees, with a special light-up. Compared to the places mentioned above, it’s not quite a party or picnic place, but it is an ideal place for a romantic stroll along the beautiful trees. And when you get tired you can stop by one of the many elegant restaurants or cafes.
4. Meguro River 目黒川
One of the famous rivers that have sakura trees along it. The pink of the blossoms makes a great contrast with the gray buildings. The little paper lanterns gave it a more festival-like atmosphere that I really enjoyed. Like Roppongi Sakurazaka, this is also not a party/picnic place but a date/romantic stroll place.
5. Chidorigafuchi 千鳥ヶ淵
A must-see place during this season. Close to the Imperial Palace, besides the beautiful sakura viewing, you can also rent a boat and admire the flowers from a closer perspective. This would make for a perfect, romantic date, wouldn’t it? But it can get quite crowded so better go earlier.
6. Nogawa light-up 野川桜のライトアップ
My favorite place! That is why I let it for the end. Compared to the other places I mentioned, this one is not located in a famous/central place so it is also not very well-known. Only once a year you can view a special light-up being held here, that I definitely say it is worth the long way to get there and the crowd. This year, the illumination show will take place on April 5th, between 18:00-21:00. I recommend it if you’re in Tokyo or plan to go!
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.