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Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo 2018 - A Brief Guide to Hanami Culture & List of Popular Spots

Post: Tuesday February 13, 2018

According the the latest forecast provided by the Japan Weather Association (JWA) on February 7, 2018, cherry blossom trees are expected to start blooming this year on March 24th and reach full bloom on March 31st in Tokyo (*this full bloom forecast is based on averaging the predictions from private weather companies). Cherry blossoms are expected to start blooming around the same time all over Japan, except in some areas of Kyushu’s districts which will be slightly delayed.

Since late January we have been experiencing a colder than usual winter this year; with a record low temperatures only seen once every several years in the Easter and Western parts of Japan. Due to the colder than usual weather, the dormancy breaking of cherry blossoms is thought to be progressing smoothly (*for the seed’s dormancy to break, the flower buds need to be exposed to cold weather for a certain amount of time). As of February 7th, the prediction is that we will be experiencing colder than average weather for this time of year, especially in Western Japan, until mid-February. We will however have warm weather as per usual from late February to April. With these predictions in mind, the forecast for cherry blossom’s blooming is expected to be the same time as usual this year all over Japan.


Cherry Blossom 2018のコピー

Hanami, which literally means “flowering viewing” in Japanese, is a time honored tradition in which people gather at scenic locations that are home to cherry blossom trees to admire the blooming of the cherry blossoms. The Hanami season provides a great reason to get out of the office and enjoy some tasty food and drinks with your co-workers or friends. Below are a few suggestions and things to prepare when planning for the perfect Hanami outing.

 

Finding your spot

Hanami without flowers is not Hanami, so making sure you get a spot with a view of cherry blossoms is a must. At bottom of this article we have a detailed list of some of the best Hanami spots around Tokyo. Once you find a place to go, the only obstacle left is finding a spot. Prime Hanami spots go quickly, so you’ll have to arrive early in the morning stake your spot if you want a chance at having the best view of cherry blossoms. The traditional way to claim your spot is to lay out a blue tarp (available at convenience stores ”conbini”, or home supply stores “home center”). Generally speaking, once you have laid your tarp out, it will remain undisturbed until you arrive for your Hanami gathering later that day.

 2006 Hanami at Gyoen 花見3

 

Hanami etiquette

While Hanami parties can be quite lively and fun, there are some rules to follow that will make everything go well.

1)  BYOB (Bring your own beer) 
Hanami parties are best when everyone brings food and drinks. Whether you like beer, wine, sake, green tea or even mugi-cha, it’s always best to bring your own and some to share. For food, many people bring bento box meals and party foods like Hanami dango. All of these can be purchased at a conbini as well as in the food courts in the basements of most department stores.

花見 弁当 団子

2) Take your own trash 
Hanami draws out huge crowds of people, far more than are out at parks and recreational areas under normal circumstances, and the trash cans are generally not sufficient to support all the rubbish generated by huge Hanami parties. So, bring some trash bags and make sure to carry all your trash off with you and leave the park as pretty as when you arrived.

3) Take your shoes off (when on the blue tarp) 
The blue tarps that people set out to mark off their party spaces should be treated the same as walking into someones house. In other words, you should take your shoes off if you need to step on a tarp.

4) Have fun! 
While Hanami started off as a time for samurai and emperors to sit and placidly contemplate the beauty of nature while listening to haiku praising the sakura (cherry blossoms) that were composed by the court poet, Hanami today is a time for celebrating spring, the start of a new school year, welcoming new recruits to firms, and just generally having a good time.

 
We hope these pointers will help make your next Hanami party a really fun time. These rules are really more guidelines than anything but keeping them in mind will definitely make the experience enjoyable for all.

Now go watch some flowers!

Hanami from above Cherry Blossom 2016

 

Tokyo's most popular cherry blossom spots

LocationDescription

Aoyama REIEN (AOYAMA CEMETARY)

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 2-32-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • A 10 min-walk from Gaienmae Station (Ginza Line), or Nogizaka Station (Chiyoda Line)
  • All day Everyday
  • Over 400, mainly Somei-yoshino Total area 26 hectares.
  • There is an antique market in Nogi Jinja (Nogi Shrine) which is about a 10-minute walk from Nogizaka station. It is held on the second Sunday of every month except November.

Ark Hills

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • Ark Hills, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • A 1 minute walk from Exit 13 of Tameike-Sanno Station (Namboku Line or Ginza Line) A 1-minute walk from Roppongi 1-chome Station (Namboku Line)
  • All day Everyday
  • 150 Somei Yoshino trees
  • Behind Suntory Hall at Ark Hills and all along the Spanish Embassy’s wall, 150 Somei Yoshino trees form a 700 meter-long archway of blossoms.
    While the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom they are lit up from sunset until 10pm.
    A cherry blossom festival is also held at Ark Hills Karajan.

CHIDORI-GA-FUCHI SUIJO PARK

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • A 5-minute walk from Kudanshita Station (Hanzo-mon, To-zai, or Toei Shinjuku Lines)
  • All day Everyday
  • About 300, mainly Somei-yoshino
  • Chidori-ga-fuchi is one of the moats of a former Edo Castle and one of the more famous cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo.
    Enjoy a boat ride along the moat, surrounded by cherry trees that are lit up in the evening. Yasukuni Shrine is nearby and you can enjoy cherry blossoms there as well. If you walk a little further, you will be able to get to Higashi-Gyoen (the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace). A Sakura Festival is held every year.

SHIBAKOEN / ZOJO-JI TEMPLE

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 4-7-35, Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • 3-minute walk from Onarimon Station (Toei Mita Line), 5-minute walk from Daimon Station (Toei Asakusa Line or Oedo Line)
  • All day Everyday
  • About 100
  • A nice place to visit with the temple as a backdrop to the beautiful cherry trees in bloom.

HAMA RIKYU ONSHI-TEIEN

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 1-1, Hama Rikyu Teien, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
  • A 5-minute walk from Shiodome Station (Toei Oedo Line), A 7-minute walk from Tsukiji-Shijo Station (Toei Oedo Line), A 12-minute walk from Shimbashi Station (JR Yamanote/Ginza/Toei-Asakusa Line)
  • 9:00 – 17:00 (Last admission 16:30)
  • JPY300.-
  • This beautiful Japanese Garden is kept by charging entrance fee to keep the crowds down.

YASUKUNI SHRINE

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 3-1-1, Kudan-kita, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • 3-minute walk from Kudanshita Station (Hanzo- mon Line, To-zaiLine, and Shinjuku Lines)
  • 6:00 – 19:00 (-18:00 in Winter season)
  • About 600
  • This shrine is famous for the three cherry trees which are the standard by which the Meteorological Agency announces the official timing of cherry blossoms blooming in Tokyo. There is a Sakura Matsuri at the beginning of April. About 300,000 people attend and there are a lot of street stalls. Also check out the many cherry blossoms that line the nearby Imperial Palace moat.

YOYOGI PARK

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 2-1, Yoyogi-Kamisono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
  • A 3-minute walk from Yoyogikoen Station (Odakyu Line), A 5-minute walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line)
  • 5:00 – 17:00 every day
  • About 100
  • Sakurano-sono (cherry blossom garden) is beautiful. It is located between the South gate and the Shibuya gate. There is a lot of space to wander around. A flea market is held every month.

MEGURO RIVER

Dsc01925
  • Along Meguro River
  • Every day
  • About 880
  • Approximately 880 someiyoshino bloom 3.8 km from Ikejiri Ohashi Bridge, Naka-Meguro, Meguro and Gotanda along the river. The surface of the river turns pink with all the cherry blossoms that have fallen.

SHINJUKU GYOEN

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 11, Naito-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
  • 5-minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoen Station (Marunouchi Line) or Sendagaya Station (JR Line)
  • 9:00 – 16:30 (last admission 16:00)
  • JPY300.-
  • 75 types and more than 1,500 trees, including the yaezakura (double-blossoming cherry tree)
  • This garden near the shopping district of Shinjuku has many types of cherry and plum trees.

UENO PARK

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • 5-20, Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • A 2-3 minutes walk from Ueno Station (JR, Hibiya, or Ginza Lines)
  • All day Everyday
  • About 1,200
  • This park not only has 1,200 cherry trees, but also features historical and art museums, shrine, pond, and zoo. During Hanami season, many people hold parties in the evening, so it’s recommended that you go in daytime if you prefer a quiet atmosphere. Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) is held in April every year.

SUMIDA PARK

cherry blossom in tokyo
  • Sumida Park, on the banks of the Sumida River near Asakusa
  • A 2-minute walk from Asakusa Station (Ginza Line or Asakusa Line)
  • All day Everyday
  • More than 1,000
  • This is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing spot in Tokyo. The park has about a 1-kilometer row of trees along the Sumida river on the side of Taito-ku. There is also a park across the river in Sumida-ku where there is a Sakura Matsuri in April and a monthly antique market.

INOKASHIRA PARK

cherryblossom
  • 1, Goten-yama, Musashino City, Tokyo
  • 5-minute walk from Kichijoji Station South Exit (JR Chuo Line, Sobu Line, or Keio Line)
  • All day Everyday
  • About 630
  • Many cherry trees are around the Inokashira pond and there is a boat ride available on the pond. Three different boats are available with different prices.
    Be prepared for a long wait in cherry blossoms season.

 

 

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