The Best Places To See Pink Rivers of Cherry Blossom Petals

Photo thanks to the Hikawa Shrine Facebook page, which (thanks to their position right on the banks of the Shingashi River in Kawagoe) got the pink river timing perfect (unlike, uh, moi)

The leaves are greening, hangovers cured, blue tarps furled, the madness over. Right? Wrong! Because as soon as the petals begin to fall, it’s hana-ikada season: “rafts of flowers” that float atop cherry tree-lined bodies of water, turning them into pink rivers!

It’s a little trickier to catch the magic of the fallen petals than it might seem, because ideally you time it so enough have fallen to make the water pink, but enough are still on the trees to make it look like they’re still in full bloom too.

And if it rains…

…the water is flowing too quickly…

…and the petals are swept swiftly downstream instead of gathering on the surface

And if you’re too early…

…you catch the trees in full bloom (although since it’s obviously not the most teeth-gnashing of fails, I don’t expect much sympathy!)

But just a few days later, those trees drop their petals to float atop the super-famous acres of pink moat at Hirosaki Castle in Aomori prefecture (Photo thanks to the Hirosaki Tourism & Convention Bureau, who didn’t have to (sob!) race back to Tokyo just as the pink showers were beginning)

But let’s find some spots closer to home – here are my favorite places to glimpse this rarified form of pinkomania in Tokyo.


The good old Imperial Palace moat between Kudanshita and Hanzōmon stations delivers a serpentine hall runner of pinkness, if not a wall-to-wall carpet

All along the shore, the veil grows…

…as layer upon layer of petals fall, each day pinker than before

Near the Hanzōmon end of the moat, this fountain becomes a little oasis of pink too (also, an illustration of the evergreen maxim that “Some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.”)

The pink moat & fountain photos were taken in area 1

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I’ve yet to glimpse the Meguro River near Nakameguro station in a state of blissful blush…

…but you can see its potential in this photo, where the fallen petals have caught in the eddies. I’m told that if you luck into a period of no rain, it does become a delightful river of pink

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Sometimes you chance across spontaneous pink river things happening at spots you didn’t expect it – this park isn’t famous for rivers of pinkness, but it’s lovely when it happens and the trees are still blooming along the banks, don’t you think?

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I chanced across this one while strolling through my favorite botanical garden, and thought that the green and pink together were super nice.

And even though this “river” is dry, the drifts of petals near the 300-year-old cherry trees really illustrate that “pink snow” thing that haiku poets are so fond of

As a bonus, as I walked back toward Chofu Station, the cobbles in the sidewalk were outlined in pink

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And speaking of “pink snow,” even if you don’t get to see a river covered in petals, sitting among the falling blossoms on a warm spring day is pretty heavenly. My favorite place is this one, next to the moat encircling the Imperial Palace, near Takebashi Station

My favorite spot for enjoying falling pink snow is area 3

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When not viewing the world through cherry petal-colored glasses, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

“A genuinely gripping crime thriller which wrong-foots and perplexes the reader throughout, drawing us in emotionally . . . Highly recommended.” Raven Crime Reads

Nine Years. Nine death anniversaries. Tomorrow will be the tenth. He always comes early to avoid crossing paths with her family. He always comes on the day he actually killed her…read more