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

The weeping cherry tree in Rikugien.

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.

Closer look on the shidarezakura.

Closer look on the shidarezakura.

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.

The Japanese garden

The Japanese garden

Sakura souvenirs

Near the exit, there was this shop selling sakura souvenir.

Sakura souvenir

Sakura souvenirs

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

Access:
JR/Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Komagome Station (7 minutes on foot)

Toei Mita Line, Sengoku Station (10 minutes on foot)

Address:
6-16-3 Hon-komagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Website:
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/rikugien/

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 famous scenery of Chidorigafuchi you might have seen somewhere.

The famous scenery of Chidorigafuchi you might have seen somewhere.

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.

The pedestrian mall besides Chidorigafuchi.

The pedestrian mall beside Chidorigafuchi.

Closer look on the sakura along Chidorigafuchi. Notice the difference of the shape comparing to shidarezakura?

Closer look on the sakura along Chidorigafuchi. Notice the difference of the shape comparing to shidarezakura?

How to get to Chidorigafuchi

Access:
5mins walk from Tokyo Metro Hanzomon station or Kundanshita station

Chidorigafuchi Boat Ride

Hours:
1st March to 30th November 11:00 – 17:30 (9:30 – 20:00 during sakura festival)
Closed on Mondays (No holidays during sakura festival)

Fee:
500 yen/30mins (800 yen/30mins during sakura festival)

For the latest information, Chiyoda Tourism Association has a websiteSakura 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.

The street to Yasukuni Shrine is also filled with cherry blossoms!

The street to Yasukuni Shrine is also filled with cherry blossoms!

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.

The beautiful Shrine with cherry blossoms.

The beautiful Shrine with cherry blossoms.

There are about 400 cherry blossom trees, but here is the most famous cherry blossom in Tokyo.

The sample tree of Tokyo’s sakura.

The sample tree of Tokyo’s sakura

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 singer and the stage with sakura

The singer and the stage with sakura

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.

Food strolls and people enjoying eating and drinking

Food strolls and people enjoying eating and drinking

You can enjoy okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakitori, and of course beer! I had a “sakura soft serve” for my treat.

Sakura soft serve. See the slight pink color?

Sakura soft serve. See the slight pink color?

It had a slight sakura flavor and was very delicious!

How to get to Yasukuni Shrine

Access:
5mins walk from Tokyo Metro Kundanshita station or 10 minutes walk from Ichigaya and Iidabashi stations (JR Sobu Line and Chuo Line)

Address:
3-1-1 Kudankita Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Website:
http://www.yasukuni.or.jp/english/

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.

For more information

The Sakura Blossom and its Cultural Significance in Japan

How Sakura Flavor Can Inspire Your Japan Experience