Cherry blossom viewing or hanami, marks one of Japan’s favorite times of the year. This extremely busy occasion is a spectacular time to visit Japan and see it at its most beautiful.
Depending on the weather pattern of the season, the cherry blossoms are usually at their most spectacular in Tokyo between late March and the first few weeks of April. The flowers are only in blossom for a few days but there are several different species that all flower a few days apart giving visitors the chance to see the spectacle for around two weeks.
The viewing is so popular that many of the television news reports offer blossom reports leading up to and during the season, just like a weather report.
The first blooms of the season are called kaika and bring large numbers of people to the park, but it isn’t until the full bloom or mankai arrives that tens of thousands flock to the city’s parks to see the magnificent blossoms. People like to get in early to see the flowering because bad weather can sometimes shorten the season. Wind, rain and hail can very quickly shorten the season by damaging the delicate blossoms.
Many people enjoy looking at the blossom around many of the city’s historic sites including the castles, shrines or temples. Many enjoy day long picnics with family and friends making some of the more iconic locations very busy and difficult to find a spot for viewing. Many people get up early marking their territory with a picnic blanket or even have a family member mark their spot until the full group arrives later in the day.
Some of the most popular parks around Tokyo for cherry blossom viewing include:
Shinjuku Gyoen, this park features over a thousand cherry trees and many varieties meaning the park has an extended blossoming season.
Ueno Park can be very busy but the sight of the thousand or more trees makes the visit well worth the effort. As well as the park itself, many of the streets leading to the park a lined with flowering cherry trees.
Kitanomaru Park is another beautiful location in Tokyo. Here you can hire rowing boats and enjoy the blossoms from the water in what is a magnificent spectacle. The trees are lit at night making for a magical atmosphere brining thousands to the park for an evening stroll.
Yoyogi Park has plenty of space to enjoy the hundreds of beautiful trees; there is usually food available from a range of vendors plus some good areas for picnics.
Sumida Park is near the incredible Tokyo Sky Tree tower and banks the Sumida River. Here cruises take spectators on a beautiful cruise up and down the river taking in the sights of the cherry trees along the banks. The night time illuminations make the viewing even more spectacular.