My wife and I planned our trip to Japan a year ago to have as close to perfect timing in order to experience sakura (cherry blossom blooming) season in Japan. Our first week in Kyoto ended up being a week too early. We walked through Philosopher’s Path and along the river and would yell with excitement every time we would see a single flower blooming on a tree. We did see several blooming trees that looked like cherry blossoms around town, but then we learned that these were actually plum blossoms and not the same.
Everything changed a few days ago when we made it to Tokyo as the sakura was EVERYWHERE! What an exciting time to be in Tokyo. All the major parks had huge sections of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Blue tarps were placed underneath the trees for picnickers and trash cans were actually accessible (a rarity in Tokyo). Everyone seemed to be in a festive mood all day and night. Here are the parks we visited and a bit about each experience.
Ueno Park – This was by far the most crowded with the highest number of picnickers. We visited on Sunday when there was a festival taking place. They had rows of food stalls and souvenirs stands. Karen had a glass of Chandon sakura flavored champagne that she really enjoyed. This is a very large park – most of the sakura was along a single path leading from the Tokyo National Museum for several blocks with picnickers on both sides of the path and 1000s of people walking. Lots of selfies and cherry blossom extreme close up photos were taken.
Yoyogi Park – Much more calm and relaxed than Ueno. We visited around 10am and brought breakfast to picnic with the locals.
Shinjuku Gyoen – This was our favorite as the entire park was covered in full blooming cherry blossoms. They were over such a large area that it wasn’t nearly as crowded as Ueno Park. Beautiful ponds, structures and gardens provided additional ambiance. I enjoyed seeing many painters using watercolors on canvas to document the sakura memories they see.
Roppongi Hills (see photo) – This was the best for night time sakura where the trees are lit up. Makes for a beautiful late night stroll. This was near the Ritz Carlton Hotel, close to the Roppongi subway station.
Chidorigafuchi Park – Cherry blossoms surround a lake near the Imperial Palace. This is the place to rent a boat and experience sakura from the water.
Where have you spotted sakura? I encourage you to share your sakura experiences.