Sakura 2013, one of the earliest season on records

Sakura

Hanami which literally means “flower viewing” is an important Japanese custom and is held all over Japan during the Spring season. Said to have originated in the late 8th century during the Nara Period, when this seasonal event was used to welcome the new year’s harvest marking the beginning of the rice planting season. During the Heian Period, Emperor Saga together with the Japanese royalties would welcome this time with a celebration under the sakura trees in Kyoto’s Imperial Court. The practice spread to all citizens by the Edo Period in the early 1600s. The custom still lives to this day and thus became an annual tradition of enjoying a picnic under the blooming sakura trees. It  is no doubt one of the more remarkable natural events in the country.

For this year, Tokyo indeed experience one of the earliest season of cherry blossom which is 10 days earlier than average and 15 days earlier than last year. This is mainly affected by the unusually warm weather in March which rose far above average, taking the weather services by surprise and resulting in a record-breaking early cherry blossom season in the capital. Cherry trees in the city have already reached full bloom and will likely be past their peak by early April. Estimated best viewing period is from March 22 to April 1.

Here are some of the cherry blossom viewing spots in Tokyo:

Kitanomaru Park

A magnificent park in Chiyoda, Tokyo and was opened in 1969. It was previously the northern fortress of Edo castle and lies next to the Imperial Palace.  The park provides quite a lovely stroll especially with the wide picnic area underneath the sakura trees.

Kitanomaru Koen 01  Kitanomaru Koen 02
 Kitanomaru Koen 03  Kitanomaru Koen 04
 Kitanomaru Koen 05  Kitanomaru Koen 06
 Kitanomaru Koen 07  Kitanomaru Koen 08

Nippon Budokan (Martial Arts Hall, in Japanese only), National Archives of Japan, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the Science Museum,Tokyo are also located in the park.

Contact Info: Address: 1-1 Kitanomaru Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 〒102-0091
Telephone: 03-3211-7878
Train Access: 5 minutes walk from Kudanshita station Exit 2 (Tozai, Hanzomon, Toei Shinjuku lines)
7 minutes walk from Takebashi station Exit 1A (Tozai line).
Admission: Free
Google Map: Kitanomarukoen

  

Chidorigafuchi

 A park located at the North-Western section of the moat surrounding the Imperial Palace. It is an excellent spot for viewing the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Rowing boats are also available for rent for ¥800 per half hour. Illumination is available from 18:30 to 22:00.

Chidorigafuchi 01 Chidorigafuchi 02
Chidorigafuchi 03 Chidorigafuchi 04
 Chidorigafuchi 05 Chidorigafuchi 06
 Chidorigafuchi 07 Chidorigafuchi 08
Contact Info: Address: 2 Sanban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 〒102-0075
Telephone: 03-5211-4243
Website: www.kanko-chiyoda (in Japanese)
Train Access: 5 minutes walk from Metro Kudanshita Station Exit 2 (Toei Shinjuku, Metro Hanzomon & Tozai Lines)
5 minutes walk from Metro Hanzomon Station Exit 5 (Metro Hanzomon Line)
Admission: Free
Google Map: Chidorigafuchi Ryokudo

  

Koishikawa Korakuen

Located adjacent to Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo, Tokyo. It is one of the surviving gardens from the Edo period which was built in 1629. It is considered as one of the best Japanese landscape garden. It features several weeping cherry trees in the garden entrance.

Koishikawa Korakuen 01 Koishikawa Korakuen 02
 Koishikawa Korakuen 03  Koishikawa Korakuen 04
 Koishikawa Korakuen 05  Koishikawa Korakuen 06
Contact Info: Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 〒112-0004
Telephone: 03-3811-3015
Train Access: 2 minutes walk from Iidabashi Station Exit E-06 (JR Sobu Line)
8 minutes walk from Iidabashi Station Exits T-06, Y-13, N-10 (Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, Yurakucho Line & Namboku Line)
Admission: ¥300
Operating Hours: 9:00 – 16:30
Google Map: Koishikawa Korakuen

  

Meguro River

Megurogawa is river that flows into Tokyo Bay passing through an 8km extension from Shinagawa, Meguro, and Setagaya. The concrete-encased river comes to life during the cherry blossom season where around 800 Sakura trees line up approximately 3.8km of the canal starting from the bridge around Meguro station and create an amazing sight. The view is especially captivating at night when lanterns are hung along the river to light up the flowers. Illumination is available from 18:00 to 21:00.

Megurogawa 01 Megurogawa 02
 Megurogawa 03  Megurogawa 04
 Megurogawa 05  Megurogawa 06

Contact Info: Address: Shinagawa / Meguro / Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Website: enjoytokyo.jp
Train Access: 5 minutes walk from Naka-Meguro Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line)
7 minutes walk from Meguro Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line)
Admission: Free
Google Map: Megurogawa


Canal Cafe in Kanda River

Hanami Cafes and restaurants are another venue which provide a perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the cherry trees and Canal Cafe is one of the most popular choice during the season. It is situated along the Kanda River, a river that stretches 24.6km from Mitaka to the Sumida River, and just in front of the historic Kagurazaka area. It offers a great view either from the Deck Side Cafe & Bar or from the comfortable tables inside the restaurant. A walk along the river also provides a great view of the Sakura trees.

Kanda River 01 Kanda River 02
Kanda River 03 Kanda River 04

Contact Info: Address: 1-9 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 〒162-0825
Telephone: 03-3260-8068
Website: www.canalcafe.jp (Japanese only)
Train Access: 2 minutes walk from Iidabashi Station West Exit (JR Chuo-Sobu Line)
1 minute walk from Iidabashi Station Exit B2A (Tokyo Metro Tozai Line & Toei Oedo Line)
Operating Hours: Weekdays: 11:30 – 23:00
Week-ends & Holidays: 11:30 – 21:30
*Closed on Mondays
Google Map: Canal Cafe

Shinjuku Gyoen

One of the largest and most popular park in Tokyo. It was originally a residence of the Naitō family in the Edo period and was opened to the public as a national park in 1949. The park is located a short walk from Shinjuku Station and provides a relaxing atmosphere in the busy city center. It offers more than one thousand cherry trees of different varieties, with both the early and late blooming sakura trees, which makes it an ideal destination for those who miss the main season by a week or two.

Shinjuku Gyoen 01 Shinjuku Gyoen 02
 Shinjuku Gyoen 03 Shinjuku Gyoen 04
 Shinjuku Gyoen 05 Shinjuku Gyoen 06
 Shinjuku Gyoen 07  Shinjuku Gyoen 08
Shinjuku Gyoen 09 Shinjuku Gyoen 10

Contact Info: Address: 11 Naito-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 〒160-0014
Telephone: 03-3350-0151
Website: www.env.go.jp
Train Access: Shinjuku Gate
10 minutes walk from Shinjuku Station South Exit (JR, KEIO, Odakyu Lines)
15 minutes walk from Seibu Shinjuku Station (Seibu Shinjuku Line)
5 minutes walk from Shinjuku Gyoen Mae Station Exit 1 (Marunouchi Line)
5 minutes walk from Shinjuku 3 Chome Station Exit C1 & C5 (Toei Shinjuku Line)
Sendagaya Gate
5 minutes walk from Sendagaya Station (JR Sobu Line)
5 minutes walk from Kokuritsu Kyougijyou Mae Station Exit A5 (Toei Oedo Line)
Okido Gate
5 minutes walk from Shinjuku Gyoen Mae Station Exit 2 (Marunouchi Line)
Admission: Adult: ¥200
Child: ¥50
Operating Hours: 09:00 – 16:00
Google Map: Shinjuku Gyoen

 

 



References:
Japan Travel Info:  www. japantravelinfo.com

CNN.com: edition.cnn.com
Sunny Pages: www.sunnypages.jp
Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association: teien.tokyo-park.or.jp
Meguroku.net: meguroku-net.com
Ministry of Environment: www.env.go.jp