Special cherry blossom-viewing spots 2015

Where to enjoy an extraordinary hanami in Tokyo

Ueno Sakura Festival
Toshimaen Sakura Nights
Midtown Blossom 2015
Takanawa Prince Hotel Cherry Blossoms

The cold of winter has lifted and our metropolis is slowly switching gears into spring. In other words, sakura season is just around the corner – the Meteorological Agency’s latest blossom forecast sets the opening date for March 25, while ‘peak bloom’ is expected at around April 2. Although these divinations tend to change frequently the closer we get to the end of this month, there’s still no harm in planning ahead for your hanami. Here’s our pick of sakura-related events taking place in and around Tokyo, ranging from lit-up amusement parks to a virtual version of swirling pink petals.

Sakura Sensation

Until Apr 12 | Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
The magnificent Hotel Chinzanso in Bunkyo is one of the top hidden cherry blossom-viewing spots in Tokyo. Boasting around 20 kinds and a total of 120 cherry trees, the Japanese garden here is usually bursting with colours from the end of February to the middle of April, and is best experienced with a hot drink in hand. The hotel also offers special room deals, buffet menus and sakura sweets during this period, so look no further if you want to get away from the rowdy hanami parties going on all over the city in spring.
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Beautiful Nihonbashi

Until Apr 12 | Coredo Muromachi and surrounds
The revitalised Nihonbashi area celebrates sakura season with a packed programme of events. Although actual cherry trees here are scarce and limited to the newly re-planted ones along Edo Sakura-dori, hanami-themed light-ups will be arranged to make up for the deficit: every day between 6.30pm and 11pm, major landmarks like the Mitsukoshi department store will be illuminated in pink, while the recently renovated street leading to Fukutoku Shrine will be beautified by sakura decorations, LEDs and traditional lanterns.
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Dream Sakura

Until Apr 5 | Yomiuri Land
Yomiuri Land out in Inagi is known as one of the better amusement parks in Tokyo, but its reputation as a top cherry blossom-viewing spot is not as widespread. The around 1,000 cherry trees in the park will be elaborately lit up after dark, making for a mystical atmosphere, while the background music and decor will be provided by J-pop group Dream5 – unless you're a fan, you might want to steer clear of the 'Dream5 Sakura' installation.
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Jindai Cherry Blossom Festival

Until Apr 5 | Jindai Botanical Garden
Jindai Botanical Garden in Chofu hosts 65 different kinds (around 770 in total) of cherry trees, all of which burst into bloom around the end of March. See the spectacular colours and welcome spring during this festival, which features free guided tours of the park, displays of Camellia flowers and special concerts on March 28 and April 5.
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Takanawa Prince Hotel Cherry Blossoms

Until Apr 12 | The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo etc.
The Japanese garden between Takanawa's three major hotels, the Prince Sakura Tower, the Grand Prince Hotel and the Grand Prince New Takanawa is full of cherry trees that usually burst into bloom in late March. A total of more than 200 trees and 19 different kinds of sakura will be colouring the garden until May. Held to mark the occasion, the Prince group's month-long festival also includes special menus at hotel restaurants, sales of limited-edition sweets and the opening of a temporary patio for flower-watching.
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Hanami at the Museum

Mar 17-Apr 12 | Tokyo National Museum
The National Museum in Ueno opens its beautiful garden for cherry blossom viewing in March and April, while there will also be a special sakura-related exhibition, music performances and workshops going on. Don't miss this chance to visit the museum gardens at their best.
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Rikugien Cherry Blossom Lightup

Mar 19-Apr 5 | Rikugien
Rikugien’s annual spring celebration sees the beautiful Japanese garden and its huge cherry trees lit up in the evenings, creating a magical atmosphere for sakura flower viewing. The park stays open until 9pm for the duration of the event, making after-work hanami parties possible even on weekdays.
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Midtown Blossom

Mar 20-Apr 19 | Tokyo Midtown
For an urban hanami experience, Tokyo Midtown is one of the best spots: its gardens feature eight different kinds of cherry trees and 150 in total, many of which will be lit up at night over the duration of this event, while the open-air 'lounge' area is where to sit down for some rosé bubbly under the blossoms. You'll also find flower art and spring-themed decorations all around the facility, which celebrates its eighth birthday on March 30. On that day, the first 500 visitors will be treated to a free glass of sparkling wine.
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Ueno Sakura Festival

Mar 21-Apr 12 | Ueno Park
Even among Tokyo's innumerable flower-viewing spots, Ueno Park stands out with its sheer scale and tasteful lantern decorations. Turned on at sunset, these beautiful lights help make Ueno's nighttime sakura a must-see spectacle in itself, while the dance performances (on April 5) and flea markets taking place during the event period add extra flavour. Note that festival dates may be altered according to when the cherry blossoms open.
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Toshimaen Sakura Nights

Mar 21-Apr 5 | Toshimaen
Combine a fun day at the amusement park with some after-hours hanami at the charmingly old-fashioned Toshimaen, which boasts a total of 500 cherry trees on its spacious grounds. Head over after 3pm and get half off the park entrance price (standard entrance ¥1,000), and take the chance to ride the rollercoasters at a reduced rate with the night-time 'Illumi-Night Pass'. The area will be lit up after sunset every day between March 21 and April 5.
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Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri

Mar 21-Apr 5 | Chidorigafuchi Ryokudo
For a hanami experience combining urban style, history and – unfortunately – suffocating crowds, the Chiyoda Sakura Matsuri is hard to beat. The more than 250 trees along the Chidorigafuchi moat are lit up with LEDs at night, while the park's boathouse extends its opening hours for the occasion. On March 28 and 29, the ward operates a free shuttle bus that runs from Marunouchi to Kudanshita, Jinbocho, Akihabara and Nihonbashi before heading back to Marunouchi, while spring-themed stalls are set up inside the Yasukuni shrine grounds.
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Sankeien Sakura Evenings

Mar 28-Apr 5 | Sankeien
Yokohama's Sankeien, a pretty and spacious Japanese garden, gets even more beautiful when the cherry blossoms burst into bloom. Opening hours are extended for the occasion, and the sakura trees are lit up at night, creating a spectacular scene that rivals all of the famed flower-viewing spots in the Tokyo area.
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Sakura Sa*Kaso Matsuri

Mar 28-29 | Asukayama Park
Along with Ueno Park, Asukayama Park is one of the oldest in Tokyo, and people from all over the city have been coming here to see the sakura in spring ever since shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune had the trees planted in the first half of the 18th century. Held over two days, this annual festival is coming back for the 18th year in a row and aims to recreate the glory of Edo-era hanami parties, which were yearly highlights for the old city's residents. In addition to the daytime stalls and stage performances, the cherry blossom trees will be lit up with traditional lanterns every night (5.30pm-9pm) between March 21 and April 12.
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Night Sakura Beer Garden

Mar 28 & 31, Apr 1, 3 & 10 | Asakusa Hanayashiki
Asakusa Hanayashiki's yearly spring beer garden is opening just in time to enjoy the sakura. Sink a few beers in the after-hours amusement park from 6pm on five March and April evenings while enjoying a flurry of pink petals raining down around you. The park is also planning to keep a few of the rides open, so taking a cherry-coloured carousel ride might be a good idea as well. Calling ahead for seats directly under the trees is highly recommended.
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Roppongi Hills Spring

Apr 3-5 | Roppongi Hills
The annual cherry blossom light-up at Roppongi Hills illuminates the sakura trees in the Mohri Garden and along the Sakura-zaka slope at night, providing the perfect opportunity for after-dark hanami. The lights are scheduled to come on from late March and remain in place until the middle of April, but the exact dates depend on the blooming season. Meanwhile, in addition to special sakura menus, restaurants inside the complex will be setting up washoku-themed stalls around the area during the first weekend of April.
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Ark Hills Sakura Festival

Apr 3-5 | Ark Hills
The 'cherry blossom street' at Ark Hills is a minor Roppongi institution, reaching 700m around the area and featuring around 150 sakura trees, all of which are lit up after dark from late March to mid-April. Ducking into the 'flower tunnel' will be particularly rewarding on the first weekend of April (3-5), as that's when the local spring festival is taking place. Visitors can look forward to food stalls run by local restaurants, workshops exhibiting traditional Japanese crafts, and a special edition of the Ark Hills farmers' market.
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By Time Out Tokyo Editors
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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