One of the most popular times to visit Tokyo is during the end of March to the beginning of April, during spring – also known as sakura season, or when the cherry blossoms bloom . All of Tokyo turns into a pale pink wonderland and there are a number of spots where you can enjoy seeing these amazing Japanese flowers in bloom. There is even a special Japanese word to describe enjoying the flowers – hanami, literally meaning ‘flower viewing’.
Flowering periods for the trees tend to follow a two-week timeline – from their initial showing of fresh petals to when the petals fall to the ground. In order to see the trees in all their glory, make stops at certain areas during peak bloom periods, which tend to occur a few days after flowering. People across Japan engage in hanami activities at the height of these vivid bursts of light pink. One of the more popular ways is an age-old springtime tradition of picnicking under the blooming trees.
There are several spots in Tokyo where you can enjoy the cherry blossom viewing and take iconic pictures.
Ueno Park is a popular place in Tokyo all year round, but during the cherry blossom season it becomes a MUST. It’s said that the trees here bloom a little earlier than other areas. It has been a popular sakura destination since the 16th century. In the park, there are about 800 cherry trees bloom with a total area of 538,000 square meters; most of them are in the center of the park. Expect Ueno Park to be crowded with a lot of food stalls and lantern lights in the evening!
A short walking distance from Ueno Park is the Yanaka Cemetery, another interesting spot for cherry blossoms in Tokyo. 170 sakura trees are amidst the 7,000 graves and the main road, Sakura-dori (Cherry Blossom Street), cuts through the cemetery and is where most of the sakura trees are.
Due to the nature of this place, visitors are much quieter than at other sakura viewing locations, which provides the right conditions for a more serene sakura experience. The graveyard as the backdrop also offers the right metaphor for the deeper meaning of sakura blossoms in Japanese culture – that blooming season is beautiful and short-lived similar to the Buddhist belief that life is transient and fleeting.