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8 Must Visit Sakura Sites in and Around Tokyo

Spring is around the corner and in Japan this means it’s almost sakura season. When the cherry blossoms bloom, Tokyo transforms and becomes a truly brilliant sight. If you’re planning your first trip to see the little pink and white beauties or if you’re a hanami (flower viewing) pro, why not take a look at our favorite cherry blossom sites in and around Tokyo.

Note that the sakura usually bloom from the end of March to the beginning of April, but it’s definitely worth checking the latest expected dates.

Sumida River

Flickr | Yoshikazu TAKADA

If in Tokyo when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, head on down to Sumida River, hop on a tour boat and cruise down the river. You could even choose to enjoy your lunch or dinner while enjoying sights of Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge and more from the boat. The cruise and the sights are made all the more remarkable by the background provided by the sakura.

Enjoy a delicious lunch or tasty dinner onboard a Yakatabune cruise along the Sumida River.

 

Chidori-ga-fuchi & Kitanomaru Park

Flickr | Marufish

Just north of the Imperial Palace are two stunning parks offering some of the best hanami in Tokyo. Visit Chidori-ga-fuchi and Kitanomaru and jump in a row boat and paddle around the palace moats while enjoying the scenery on both sides. There’s even illuminations in the evening turning the parks into a favorite for romantic strolls.

Zojo-ji & Shiba Park

Flickr | Hikosaemon

In Tokyo’s Minato District, right next to Tokyo Tower, is Shiba Park. The park is a popular choice for a walk when the sakura bloom with Tokyo Tower popping up from behind the cherry trees creating a superb contrasting view. Also within Shiba Park is Zojo-ji temple, a famous spot for welcoming in the new year as it chimes the temple bells 108 times. Shiba Park is a fine place to visit over spring with the sakura wonderfully supported by Zojo-ji and Tokyo Tower’s great old meets new setting.

Yasukuni Shrine

Flickr | 中岑 范姜

Yasukuni Shrine is often one of the earliest places in Tokyo to see cherry blossoms, and serves as a signal that Tokyo’s sakura is about ready to bloom. Yasukuni Shrine is however, probably more famous for the controversy surrounding it as opposed to it’s cherry blossoms. Yasukuni Shrine honors many Japanese war dead, but among those those honored, some are convicted as war criminals. Japanese politicians visiting the shrine often leads to outrage and disappointment, particularly from China and South Korea. Yasukuni Shrine is fascinating and undoubtedly a pretty site for hanami, but one with a somewhat solemn undertone.

Inokashira Park

Flickr | Dick Thomas Johnson

Inokashira Park in western Tokyo, established 100 years ago in 1917, really wakes up from it’s winter slumber when it’s 500 cherry trees explode into life. There’s plenty do here too, many visitors enjoy rowing or peddling boats up and down the large Inokashira Pond, particularly nice with sakura petals floating in the air and on the river’s surface. Also around the park is the Ghibli Museum for anime fans and even a small zoo.

Ueno Park

Flickr | DozoDomo

Ueno Park is Japan’s most popular city park and together with Ueno Zoo, Tosho-gu Shrine and other temple buildings within the park, make up a vast area with over 1000 cherry trees. It’s one of the most popular hanami spots in the city with the park and zoo attracting scores of visitors every year. Perhaps consider stopping by early in the morning if you’re keen to avoid the biggest crowds here.

If you’ve explored the best Tokyo has to offer, consider a day trip to one of the following:

Odawara Castle

Flickr | Koji Ishii

Odawara Castle in Kanagawa Prefecture was constructed in the late 15th century, torn down in 1870 and since rebuilt. It’s one of the finest castles to visit in the Tokyo area and was once the main stronghold of the Hojo clan, who at the height of their power controlled much of the Kanto area. The castle is rich in history and houses many interesting and culturally significant artifacts such as armor and weaponry in the museum. Surrounding the castle is the moat and, when in season, many cherry blossoms grace the castle grounds. There are also food stalls, picnics, a small zoo and even a mini train to take visitors around.

Mount Fuji

Possibly the most iconic landmark in Japan, Mount Fuji or “Fuji-san” is obviously a wonderful sight at any time of year, but when the sakura come out to play they add that little bit extra wow factor. Fuji Five Lakes becomes a very popular place to visit and it’s no wonder with thousands of the little beauties blossoming at once turning into a sea of pinks and whites.

 

Take advantage of one of KKday’s day tours to avoid the fight over tickets and having to squeeze onto public transport. These tours will also also you to see much more of the surroundings and other attractions you’d unlikely have time for if traveling by public transport.

Recommended Tours:

Sakura Sightseeing at Odawara Castle & Hakone Sightseeing Cruise

  • Take in the sights of Odawara Castle and board the Hakone Cruise providing suburb sakura sightseeing opportunities
  • A stop in Gotemba Premium Outlets – enjoy a 5 – 15 % discount with the tour
  • An ocean view buffet lunch
  • Transportation from and returning to Shinjuku, Tokyo

Sakura Sightseeing at Mount Fuji Lake Kawaguchiko & Arakura Sengen Shrine

  • Visit Sengen Shrine for unparalleled views of Mount Fuji before heading down to Fuji-san’s Kawaguchiko Lake, famed for it’s cherry blossoms
  • A stop in Gotemba Premium Outlets – enjoy a 5 – 15 % discount with the tour
  • Lunch at the lake included
  • Pick up and drop off in Shinjuku, Tokyo
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