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Nature’s annual travelling show, cherry blossoms!

Tokyo Sakura

After February, the winter spell finally breaks and the islands  of Japan start blooming colour as the frozen hills thaw and the warmth of spring ripples through the country. It’s around this time that the people of Japan start anticipating nature’s annual travelling show.

Starting in the warmer south, sakura (cherry blossoms) spread in a wave across Japan, blooming and wilting in just a week.

We were lucky enough to see sakura in a few places on our two week journey through Japan, including in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kyoto.

Kyoto Pontocho cherry blossoms Jacqui

Celebrating sakura with hanami

As the spectacle invades the urban landscape, even city dwellers connect with nature for a moment and celebrate the stunning phenomenon with lively parties dedicated to the national flower that symbolises both good fortune and the fragility of life.

Hanami literally translates to “flower viewing” and it is the centuries old Japanese custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. In modern-day Japan, hanami consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or when they are illuminated by lanterns at night.

Surprisingly, there are plenty of opportunities to spot the colourful blooms in Tokyo and we were able to experience the beauty of the cherry blossoms up close!

Tokyo  Sakura parties March 2016

Where to see sakura (cherry blossoms) in Tokyo

It’s quite easy to find sakura in Tokyo since almost every park or green space will have them. And almost anywhere you go, there will be thousands of others there, too.

Tokyo  Map of Tokyo

According to the locals, the best spots in Tokyo for sakura (cherry blossom) sightings are:

  • Yoyogi Park is a favourite destination for sakura sightings and can become quite busy with tourists during the sakura season.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Admission: ¥200 / £1.25)
  • Ueno Park towards the National Museum and around Shinobazu Pond. It can also get very busy here. The trees are illuminated for two weeks from late March to early April between 17:00 and 20:00.
  • Chidorigafuchi in Kitanomaru Park near Kudanshita Station. You can also go rowing in the moat under the blooming trees! The trees are illuminated for one week from late March to early April between 18:30 and 22:00.

Tokyo  Sakura and many row boats

  • Inokashira Park (currently under construction). On the other side of the park is Kichijoji, a bustling little hub with plenty of stuff to explore.
  • The Meguro River in the Meguro area is lined with sakura trees. The area is also full of little cafes and hand-made craft shops. It is close to Yoyogi Park and can get very busy with tourists during sakura season.
  • Zempukuji River

Tokyo  Sakura and Jacqui 2

See more from our ‘Journey through Japan’

Check out some of my previous posts about our journey through Japan and follow our journey:

Culture Shock: reflections on my first day in Japan

Three days in Tokyo: a tantalising taste of Japan

Journey through Japan: The Year of the (Japanese Snow) Monkey

How to onsen in Japan like a local

Journey through Japan: Two days in Kyoto

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