Here comes the most beautiful season in Tokyo! Yes, it’s cherry blossom time! Cherry blossoms, in Japanese “sakura”, are loved by both Japanese and travelers from all over the world. We Japanese go out for cherry blossom viewing, sit down under the tree, eat & drink, and enjoy time with our friends. This ritual is called “ohanami”, literally means cherry blossom viewing, and almost every Japanese do this every year in some way at least once.
On a sunny day in March, I went out for cherry blossom viewing and here I share how I walked around. I hope this guide will help you.
1. Rikugien (六義園)
31 March 2016 was a sunny Wednesday. Japan Meteorological Agency had just announced that cherry blossoms in Tokyo are now in full bloom. I was waiting for this day! I got out from the bed, quickly got dressed, and first headed to Komagome station, to see the shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree) in Rikugien.
Rikugien is a beautiful small park with a Japanese garden, established in 1702. The park entertains us with different colors and sceneries depending on the season. In spring, shidarezakura is a must-see here.
The weeping cherry tree in Rikugien
You see how beautiful this is?
This beautiful shidarezakura is about 60 to 70 years old. It got so famous with its beauty, now gets over 30,000 visitors every day.
Its color is very light pink, rather closer to white. With this video, you notice how big this tree is.
There is a Japanese style pond in the center of the garden, with lots of koi fish swimming around.
Near the exit, there was this shop selling sakura souvenir.
Like sakura jam, sakura manju (sweet steamed bun), and sakura tea. How about getting one of them for a souvenir to your friend?
How to get to Rikugien
JR/Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Komagome Station (7 minutes on foot)
Toei Mita Line, Sengoku Station (10 minutes on foot)
6-16-3 Hon-komagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
2. Chidorigafuchi (千鳥ヶ淵)
After Rikugien, I headed to Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line Komagome station. Then I took Nanboku Line, transferred to Yurakucho Line at Iidabashi station, and got off at Koujimachi station.
Chidorigafuchi is a part of Imperial Palace moats. The name is referred to its shape, which looks like a bird. (Chidori is a kind of bird)
Cherry blossom trees are planted around the Imperial Palace moats, and Chidorigafuchi is another one of the most famous cherry blossoms viewing sights in Tokyo.
The contrast of the colors of water and cherry blossoms is amazingly beautiful.
The hours of boats are extended to 20:00 during sakura festival (26 March to 3 April in 2016), and won’t be closed on scheduled holidays. The fee is 800 yen for 30 minutes, but be prepared to wait in the line! I was there at about 2:00 PM and it was 2 hours wait!
Walking down the sakura street
The street around the Imperial Palace moats is surrounded by sakura trees. It was about 80% in bloom when I was there but still was beautiful.
How to get to Chidorigafuchi
5mins walk from Tokyo Metro Hanzomon station or Kundanshita station
Chidorigafuchi Boat Ride
1st March to 30th November 11:00 – 17:30 (9:30 – 20:00 during sakura festival)
Closed on Mondays (No holidays during sakura festival)
500 yen/30mins (800 yen/30mins during sakura festival)
For the latest information, Chiyoda Tourism Association has a website. Sakura festival is held usually from late March to early April every year, and during the festival, sakura will be lighten up at night and strolls will be out at Yasukuni Shrine, which is just 5 mins walk from Chidorigafuchi. So I went to Yasukuni Shrine to get another view of sakura.
3. Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)
Yasukuni Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Tokyo established in 1869 by the will of the Emperor Meiji. Yasukuni Shrine was established to commemorate and honor the achievement of those who dedicated to their lives for the country.
There are about 400 cherry blossom trees, but here is the most famous cherry blossom in Tokyo.
The sample tree of Tokyo’s sakura.
During the festival, some dances and songs are performed at the stage. At the time I was there, this beautiful Japanese singer was giving a musical performance. Together with the cherry blossoms, it was so beautiful.
The shrine itself is very beautiful with cherry blossoms, but there will be lots of food strolls will be out during Sakura festival, to enjoy ohanami.
You can enjoy okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakitori, and of course beer! I had a “sakura soft serve” for my treat.
It had a slight sakura flavor and was very delicious!
How to get to Yasukuni Shrine
5mins walk from Tokyo Metro Kundanshita station or 10 minutes walk from Ichigaya and Iidabashi stations (JR Sobu Line and Chuo Line)
3-1-1 Kudankita Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
My tour ended at about 5:00 PM. I walked very slowly, enjoying the view and taking pictures. If you are a fast walker, you might be able to explore more locations around Chidorigafuchi. I hope this guide will be a help for you.