Sakura cherry blossom season is right around the corner! That means it’s time to get your hanami flower-viewing game plan in order. Fully embracing the season of the cherry blossom in Tokyo is an absolute must if you’re visiting Japan in 2020. A longstanding symbol of Japanese culture and its diverse seasons, you can only see sakura in Japan for a few weeks during spring. Hyped up by the national sakura forecast airing on TV, attending a Japanese cherry blossom festival is a magical highlight of the year!
These sakura matsuri cherry blossom festivals are celebrated with all kinds of sakura-designed products and sakura-themed foods, and of course, hanami parties. It’s tradition for everyone to bring picnics and festive drinks along to hanami parties and enjoy the fun cherry blossom-filled atmosphere with family and friends. With beautiful views, tasty food, and good company, it's always a great time to soak up Japanese culture when the sakura season rolls around. Prepare yourself to join the festivities; here are our top picks of places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo in 2020.
Also, make sure to check out Sakura Snacks for Cherry Blossom Season for tips on what to pack for your hanami picnic!
The best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan usually ranges between late March and the first few weeks in April. Generally speaking, the cherry blossom Japan schedule depends on different regions across the country. Historically, sakura has had a tendency to gradually travel up the country from the south as the weather warms up from the bottom to the top.
This year, sakura is predicted to first bloom in Fukuoka on March 3, 2020, and then later have its initial Hokkaido region bloom up in Sapporo around May 1, 2020. Full sakura bloom in Fukuoka is predicted to later occur on March 29, 2020, and Sapporo’s full bloom is expected a few days after the initial bloom on May 5, 2020.
This year, the cherry blossom season in Tokyo is predicted to start on March 19th. However, the Tokyo cherry blossom forecast for 2020 is projected to see sakura trees in full bloom from about a week later, beginning on March 27, 2020. For the best sakura in Tokyo, early April will be a great time to start enjoying hanami.
Here are some of the top spots for cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo.
Take a breather from the bustling city streets of Shinjuku and visit this massive park in the heart of the city: Shinjuku Gyoen. This beautiful park features over a thousand sakura trees, and you can see Shinjuku’s skyscrapers towering over them in the background. The main Shinjuku cherry blossom route winds leisurely through the grounds of this national garden, with sakura trees along the path. It leads up to open areas with plenty of space where you can relax in the sun with friends, admiring the cherry blossoms overhead. With many varieties of cherry blossom trees, the sakura in Shinjuku bloom at different times for prolonged enjoyment throughout the season.
During sakura season in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park maintains its friendly and easygoing vibe that it's famous for all year round. Attached to the Harajuku area, this huge family-friendly park has plenty of space for everyone and makes for a great place to chill out under its many sakura trees. There’s always something going on in Yoyogi Park, like someone practicing an unusual instrument or student crews rehearsing intricate dance numbers. To best experience the Yoyogi Park cherry blossoms, bring a friend, a mat to sit on, and a bento box to munch on (and maybe a frisbee to throw around to really join the fun at this lively sakura spot!) Don’t forget a few of the latest seasonal sakura-flavored desserts!
In the sweet western suburb of Kichijoji, Inokashira Park is one of the best parks in Tokyo to visit, no matter the time of year. But for hanami, it is especially glorious! This park has a peaceful pond running through it, which gradually fills with pink petals as the sakura season goes on. Here you can ride a swan boat (or a regular one) or just stroll around and enjoy the sakura. This huge park has pleasant paths winding throughout, with about 500 sakura trees to enjoy. The Kichijoji area itself is known for having plenty of trendy shops, restaurants, cafes, and for being home to the famous Mitaka Ghibli Museum. It’s one of the best Japan cherry blossom spots at sunset, with its trees illuminated and reflecting in the spring glow at twilight.
A huge and sprawling park in the northern area of Tokyo, Ueno Park is one of the most popular places for sakura viewing in Tokyo. Big groups line the pavements to gaze at the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park, gathering with snacks and friends to enjoy leisurely hanami parties in the spacious park grounds. Note that it becomes very crowded with people flocking from all over to enjoy the area's 1000 sakura trees, so come early if you want to grab a spot for the day. Ueno Park is known for its iconic central fountain and is home to the Ueno Zoo. If you want a break from hanami partying, the Ueno area is also known for hosting many of the big art institutions and the outdoor Ameyoko Market district.
To escape from the huge crowds in the bigger parks of Tokyo, Yanaka District is a perfect area to see sakura. Tucked around the corner just a short walk away from Ueno, this quaint old town district is often overlooked. One of the oldest and most well preserved neighborhoods in Tokyo, Yanaka has maintained its traditional feel. Filled with local shops, family-owned restaurants, and a historically rooted arts community, it is pleasant to explore throughout the year. During hanami season, however, Yanaka is a great district for cherry blossom viewing with sakura lining the area. You can enjoy its historic backstreets and local street food offerings while soaking in the stunning blossoms!
For a guided tour in Yanaka, check out the Yanaka Cherry Blossom Viewing Tour.
Situated on the west side of the Imperial Palace, Chidorigafuchi Park features a 700-meter walkway with sakura trees running alongside the palace moat. With many weeping cherry trees hanging over the water, it is especially beautiful in the evening when the yozakura (nighttime sakura illuminations) are all lit up with the pink glow reflecting back at you. During the daytime, you can also hire a boat to cruise around in while you enjoy the lovely sakura views. Just a little north is Yasukuni Shrine, which also has beautiful sakura trees in the area. Yasukuni Shrine is in fact home to the main sakura tree that the Tokyo government uses to determine the rate of blooming sakura flowers in the city! In the same central area, the Imperial East Gardens are a really refined place to see the cherry blossoms. It seems fitting, seeing as the sakura blossom is one of Japan's natural symbols, to enjoy the sakura on imperial grounds.
The walkway following the Meguro River between Meguro and Nakameguro is a popular and iconic cherry blossom river spot. This stretch is a part of the ever-popular Nakameguro Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival. Hundreds of weeping sakura trees run along either side of the canal, shedding petals that drift away in the gentle flow of the river water. It is particularly spectacular in the evening, making it one of the best Tokyo cherry blossom night views with the sakura illuminations and the festival’s matching bright pink lanterns. Sakura-themed snacks and pink champagne as well as regular festival food are readily available at many yatai street food carts dotted along the route. You can wander down either side of the river, but if it gets a little crowded you can easily duck off into one of Nakameguro's many hip restaurants or cafes.
Get the full hanami experience with a local guide by booking the Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Tour!
Koshikawa Korakuen is one of the best and oldest traditional Japanese gardens in Tokyo. For its careful design and landscaping, this garden is a truly beautiful spot to see sakura each year. While it doesn't boast the highest number of cherry blossom trees, the Edo period design of the garden is gorgeous with a peaceful atmosphere. A number of winding pathways around the central lake area leads you through to different viewpoints of the garden. It also features some ume plum blossom trees which can be seen blooming around mid-February each year. (Koshikawa Korakuen also has exceptional autumn colors in the fall!)
By the wide banks of the Sumidagawa River, cherry blossom trees are everywhere on both sides of the river. The area features over 600 sakura trees along the riverside path, only a short walk from the traditional Asakusa and Sensoji Temple area. Plus, you can be sure to get that obligatory snap of the Tokyo Tower surrounded by sakura trees here! Always a popular hanami spot, this area also hosts one of Tokyo’s biggest sakura festivals, the Bokutei Sakura Matsuri. Here you can get your fix of sakura-themed foods, drinks, and souvenirs while enjoying the views of Sumida Park and the river. There are also sightseeing ferries in the area you can ride and watch the sakura as you cruise by. It’s a glorious view on a clear spring day!
Boasting around 650 sakura trees, Asukayama Park is located in Oji in the northern pocket of Tokyo. The cherry blossom trees here were purposefully planted in 1720 by order of the reigning shogun of the time. Now, Asukayama Park is still lesser known to foreign visitors as a hanami spot, but it’s absolutely lovely. It has actually long been considered one of the city’s oldest and most popular locations for cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo. Among the beautiful trees, you can see trains rolling by from the park as it sits on its higher plateau point. Plus, there is a free monorail in the park that takes you up the minor incline of the hill (literally, a not-very-steep slope) for a pleasant yet historical view. Some Asukayama Park cherry blossom views were captured in the “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” ukiyo-e paintings by artist Hiroshige. Still treasured and enjoyed today, some say that Asukayama Park is the best place to see cherry blossoms in Japan.
In the heart of Harajuku, the traditional force that competes with the colorful kawaii wonder that rages in Takeshita Street, Meiji Shrine is a tranquil place to see some sakura in Tokyo. Just around the corner from Yoyogi Park, cherry blossoms at the atmospheric and spiritual Meiji Shrine offer peace and serenity with some sakura trees. The beautiful Meiji Shrine sakura is as regal as its setting, somehow so perfect among the sacred shrine grounds, gardens, and traditional structures.
Located within the city of Tachikawa, Showa Kinen Koen or Showa Memorial Park is a huge park located in the western suburbs of Tokyo. Throughout the year, its spacious grounds make it a nice spot to relax, just 30 minutes away from Tokyo’s city center. The park features boat rides, cycle rental, kids’ play areas, and a bonsai museum, as well as spectacular fields filled with colorful flowers throughout spring. The Showa Kinen Park sakura come out a few days later than those in central Tokyo, making it a great cherry blossom viewing spot for anyone who has missed the main blossoming in the city.
A short hike just outside of the city, Mount Takao, or Takaosan, provides a change of scenery for cherry blossom viewing about an hour away from Shinjuku. It takes an hour or so to walk up from Takaosanguchi Station, or else be prepared to queue for the chair lift or cable car to get to the best view of Mount Takao cherry blossom trees. 599 meters above sea level, the main viewpoint overlooking Tokyo is surrounded by lush trees brimming with sakura, and you can even see Mount Fuji on a clear day! You'll see plenty of sakura on the way up, but if you're willing to walk an extra 30 minutes, this bonus hike will take you to a beautiful grove named Zenbonzakura, meaning “1000 cherry blossom trees" (the jackpot).
And there you have it, some of the best places in Tokyo where you can see sakura cherry blossoms. Not only limited to appreciating the fleeting blossoms, sakura fever also comes out in countless festivals across the country. Sakura season is highly anticipated each year by both locals and visitors alike, so don’t miss out! Spring is right around the corner, so get ready to grab your friends, a sakura-themed bento and a picnic mat, because hanami time means party time!
Not in Tokyo? You can still take part in hanami festivities during the Osaka Cherry Blossom Food Tour, Kyoto Cherry Blossom Food Tour, or Cherry Blossom Viewing and Hanami Picnic in Shiogama.