Hanami Blitz: My Picks For The Best Cherry Blossoms In Tokyo!

Okay, hanami warriors, it’s time to charge up your camera batteries, sharpen your elbows, and strap on your subway card, because the cherry blossoms only last a couple of days, and you’ve got serious ground to cover if you’re going to take in all my favorite viewing spots! In the past three days, I’ve been charging around Tokyo with my camera, and here are the first results…

The classics:

SHINJUKU GYOUEN

HANAMIShinjuku

Huge stroll garden with crowds to match.Go early if you can. Many gorgeous landscapes, and huge old cherry trees all over the place.

Admission: ¥200
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Picnics/alcohol: Yes picnics/No alcohol (and they’re serious: there’s a bag check before you enter, and they’ll confiscate any booze they find.)

Directions & map

MEGURO RIVER, NAKAMEGURO

HANAMINakameguro

The cherry trees become a cathedral of pink goodness during The Season along the Meguro River (it’s actually more of a concrete canal these days, but no matter). Come during the day, and stay until nighttime, when they light the lanterns in the trees and sell beer and food along the sidewalk.

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: Yes picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

CHIDORIGAFUCHI IMPERIAL PALACE MOAT, KUDANSHITA

HANAMIMoat

This isn’t a place to stop and sit and picnic, but it’s a beautiful walk and the sheer size of the cherry spectacle is worth a trip. Lit up at night, it’s spectacular.

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: No picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

YOYOGI PARK, HARAJUKU

HANAMIYoyogi

Load up on beer & snacks and don your pink spandex cherry blossom costume and get thee to Yoyogi Park. On the weekends it’s wall to wall blue tarps, but on the weekdays it’s quiet and beautiful.

Admission: Free
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Picnics/alcohol: Yes picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

SUMIDA RIVER PARK, ASAKUSA

HANAMISumidagawa

If the weather is good, this is a nice place to walk. There are food and drink stands along the way too.

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: No picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

MOAT OUTSIDE IMPERIAL PALACE EAST GARDEN, OTEMACHI

HANAMIImpPalace

I find the garden itself pretty underwhelming (and it doesn’t have many cherry trees) but the moat near Otemachi station has swans and some lovely specimen trees for your picture-taking enjoyment.

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: No picnics/No alcohol

Directions & map

Don’t miss:

RIKUGI-EN GARDEN, KOMAGOME

HANAMIRikugien

This is one of my favorite gardens in Tokyo in any season, but if you come at the beginning of cherry blossom season, you can see their famous weeping cherry tree in bloom. It’s worth a trip, just for that. For one week, the garden is also open at night until 9:00, with the trees all lit up.

Admission: ¥300
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Picnics/alcohol: No picnics/No alcohol

Directions & map

KORAKU-EN GARDEN, KORAKUEN

Here's another behemoth – this one is at Korakuen.

Here’s another behemoth – this one is at Korakuen.

My absolute favorite garden in Tokyo in any season, and although they don’t have a ton of cherry trees, the ones they have are set in such lovely gardens, you’ll definitely be glad you came.

Admission: ¥300
Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Picnics/alcohol: No picnics/No alcohol

Directions & map

My secret viewing spots:

DENPO-IN TEMPLE GARDEN, ASAKUSA

HANAMIDenpoin

This garden is seldom open to the public, but they open it during cherry blossom season. It’s not big, but it’s gorgeous. They have two fantastic weeping cherry trees that do not disappoint.

Admission: ¥300
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Picnics/alcohol: No picnics/No alcohol

Directions & map

MONZEN NAKACHO

HANAMIMonzen

The river that runs through this traditional neighborhood is lined with amazing cherry trees, and they’re lit up at night too, until 9:00!

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: Yes picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

CHERRY BLOSSOM PROMENADE, ASAKUSA

HANAMIAsakusa

This jewel of a street has a stream running down the middle of it (although it doesn’t always have water in it) and during cherry blossom season it becomes a bower of white. This is a great place to bring your lunch and rest your feet, in the middle of Asakusa.

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: Yes picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

SUMIDA RIVER PARK, ASAKUSA

HANAMISkytree

Just across the bridge from Asakusa on the way to Skytree is a lovely garden that is packed with cherry trees and nice strolling paths.

Admission: Free
Hours: Always open
Picnics/alcohol: Yes picnics/Yes alcohol

Directions & map

Check out this blog post for maps of where to find the cherry trees in each garden and Google map links to all the locations

Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, now out for the first time in paperback. Nightshade is the one set during cherry blossom season

More Nightshade book goodness here, in case you think you might want to, you know, read it or something

A young woman is found dead in an abandoned car, with a pair of strangers old enough to be her parents. Their suicide note apologizes for a disaster that hasn’t yet happened. And someone is stalking the…Read more

…or watch the book trailer! (0:52)