Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo 2019 - A Brief Guide to Hanami Culture & List of Popular Spots

Poste date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

According to the latest forecast (dated February 7, 2019) by the Japan Weather Association (JWA), the blooming of cherry blossoms in Tokyo this year is expected to start on the 22nd of March and reach full bloom on the 30th of March (* full bloom forecast is based on the averages of forecasts provided by private weather companies). The first bloom is expected to be around the same time as is usually forecasted each year or earlier than other areas around the country.

The weather hasn’t been as cold this year as it usually is during the winter season. This is especially true for the Eastern and Western parts of Japan from December to January. Due to this slight change in weather, it is expected that the dormancy breaking of Cherry flower buds is not progressing as smoothly as usual (*for the dormancy to properly break, the flower buds need to be exposed to cold weather for a certain period of time). As of February 7th it is expected that there will be cold weather in Eastern and Western Japan from around mid-February that will in turn progress the dormancy breaking of Cherry flower buds. It is also expected that Japan will have warm weather as is the usual during an average year or warmer than that after late February.

This means that forecast is that spring may come a little earlier than usual and the blooming of the cherry blossoms should be at the same time as on an average year or perhaps earlier in Eastern and Western parts of Japan.

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

The most important part of Hanami is the flowers so you have to select your general location based on that. We’ve detailed some great Hanami spots around Tokyo in the article below. Once you pick your location, you have to actually get a spot. Prime Hanami spots go quickly so you’ll have to arrive first thing in the morning and stake yours out if you want a chance at the most excellent views of flower petals. The traditional way to claim your spot is to lay out a blue tarp, which you can acquire from many convenience stores (conbini) or else a home supply store. Generally speaking, once you‘ve put it out, it will remain undisturbed until you arrive for your Hanami gathering later that day.

2006 Hanami at Gyoen

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 beverages and food. Whether you like beer, wine, sake, green tea or even mugi-cha, it’s always best to bring your own and some to share. Also, for food, many people bring bento box meals and party foods like Hanami dango. All of these can be purchased at the conbini and also in the food courts in the basements of most department stores.

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 like being indoors. 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

Tokyo’s most popular cherry blossom spots

Location Description

Aoyama REIEN (AOYAMA CEMETARY)

  • 2-32-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • 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 10-minute walk from Nogizaka station. It is held on second Sundays every month exept November.

Ark Hills

  • Ark Hills, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • 1 minute walk from Exit 13 of Tameike-Sanno Station (Namboku Line or Ginza Line) 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 from a 700 meter-long archway of blossoms.
    While the Cherries are 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

  • Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • 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 are 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

  • 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

  • 1-1, Hama Rikyu Teien, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
  • 5-minute walk from Shiodome Station (Toei Oedo Line), 7-minute walk from Tsukiji-Shijo Station (Toei Oedo Line), 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

  • 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

  • 2-1, Yoyogi-Kamisono-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
  • 3-minute walk from Yoyogikoen Station (Odakyu Line), 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

  • 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 has fallen.

SHINJUKU GYOEN

  • 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

  • 5-20, Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • 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, art museum, shrine, pond, and zoo. In Sakura season, many people have 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

  • Sumida Park, on the banks of the Sumida River near Asakusa
  • 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 spots 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

  • 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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