Top Hanami Sites Around Tokyo

ByMichael Stigall
Feb 27, 2023

Top Hanami Sites Around Tokyo

Rejoice for the end of winter is nearly here, and one of the best times to be in Japan is almost upon us. I am speaking, of course, of cherry blossom viewing or hanami. Just picture it! The weather will soon be warmer, the days longer, and it’ll be time again to gather with friends and family under a canopy of those exquisite pink blossoms. Just in case you happen to be new to Japan and Japanese culture, hanami means “flower viewing,” not just any flower but cherry blossoms. In a nutshell, hanami is a picnic with many more flowers and is sometimes accompanied by music and entertainment. Considering the crowds of Tokyo, it can often end up being more like a picnic at a festival. Of course, since the start of the pandemic, things have toned down considerably, and the view of thick crowds of people spending time under the pink trees is once again likely to look a bit different this year.

When will the blossoms bloom?

Of course, we need to know when precisely the trees will burst forth with their lovely pale pink flowers. Every year, the Japan Meteorological Administration (JMA) puts out its “sakura forecast” to show the northward progression across the country of the best times to experience “peak blossoming.” You can find this information online in many places, but here is my favorite:

2023 Cherry Blossom Forecast (

⚠️  Special COVID-19 Considerations!! 🚨

The following steps are prudent and highly recommended for a safe and enjoyable hanami season. 

  • Check websites/call information hotlines/ask around BEFORE you go!
  • Mask up! Make sure you have appropriate masks, sanitizer, etc.
  • The usual activities of picnics and lounging under the trees will likely be prohibited, so be prepared only to have the chance to stroll through the area and take pictures.
  • This also goes for eating. You can pack a lunch but will likely eat it outside the station instead of under the trees. Again, be prepared by checking before you go.

Must have Hanami Gear 

  • Picnic sheet (plastic tarp, bamboo straw, etc.) to sit and eat on (if allowed!)
  • Thin cushion for sitting or a small folding chair (if it’s allowed at all!)
  • Garbage bags
  • Warm clothes (nights get chilly!)
  • Paper cups, plates, and disposable chopsticks
  • Wet wipes/tissues
  • Bottle opener / Wine opener
  • Food (you can buy special bentos, or get whatever)
  • Drinks (drink what you like, but take empties home with you!)

Hanami Etiquette

Picnic spots are first-come-first-serve

Finding a spot can be challenging, if not an all-out endurance sport, especially in the most popular areas or seemingly anywhere at “peak blossom.” Arriving early with the birds at 5 am will help ensure you get something. The ONLY surefire way to get a good spot is to come early, spread your picnic sheet(s) and sit on them until your guests arrive. Leaving a sheet and a note is tempting but risky. Also, MAKE SURE IT’S ALLOWED during these times!!

Make sure picnics are OK.

Be sure you can picnic there before you set up; the presence of cherry trees and blossoms does not mean you can use the area! Check first. ESPECIALLY NOW!

If you are invited, you MUST bring something everyone else can enjoy

This goes for pretty much anytime you’re a guest attending a Japanese party, but especially for hanami and other group activities. If possible, inquire about what’s needed (beer, wine, and snacks are great, but never underestimate the value of simply bringing paper towels, chopsticks, napkins, and paper cups!)

Mind your garbage

In popular areas, you may find garbage areas set up for you (make sure to check the signage as there are recycling rules in place!) However, many hanami areas don’t have trash cans, and despite what you may see drunken college students do, DO NOT leave your garbage behind. Like elsewhere in Japan, expect to take your garbage home with you!

Don’t mess with the trees!

I know the flowers are lovely but DON’T break off a branch to take home; it is not appreciated and could mean a property damage violation and dealing with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police for your souvenir.

Take your shoes off

A picnic sheet on the ground here is considered an inside area, and shoes are not worn. Try to wear shoes that are easy to slip into and out of!

Don’t be “that guy” or girl!

You know what I mean here! Just be cool… you can be cool, right? Don’t get “fall down” drunk, belligerent, loud, and/or combative. Behave as if you’re relaxing with friends, and we will too!

Top Hanami Sites in Kanto!

Now on to the big question of where to go! This list lays out some of the most popular places with the largest amount of trees but doesn’t count out your local parks, gardens, and even temples or shrines, which may all have their own Hanami offerings closer to your home and with fewer crowds!

Shinjuku Gyoen

We’ve talked about this park at length. Located just to the east of the bustling Shinjuku district and station of the same name, these imperial gardens, once meant for royalty, were completed in 1906 and destroyed in 1945, during the later stages of World War II. Now under the auspices of the National Environment Ministry, the public can enjoy hanami in style.

FEE: ¥200

TIME: 9 am to 4:30 pm every day mid-March ~ mid-April.

ACCESS: The gardens are a short walk from Shinjuku-gyoemmae Station on the Marunouchi Line or Sendagaya Station on the JR Chūō-Sōbu Line. It is also a 5-minute walk from Shinjuku-sanchōme station, where the Fukutoshin and Shinjuku subway lines intersect.

Map Link

Sumida Park

This one is located just across the Sumida River from Asakusa, home of Sensōji Temple, and about 15 minutes from the Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s a great place to begin or end a tour of the attractions in that area during springtime. You can find more information on the Sumida Area, including maps, at the “Visit Sumida Tourism Office” website (English!).

FEE: Free

TIME: 7 am to sunset every day mid-March ~ mid-April.

ACCESS: Ginza, Asakusa, or Tobu Skytree lines to Asakusa station. 10-minute walk to the park.

Map Link

Meguro Cherry Tree RiverWalk

This one is pretty great since the Meguro River cherry blossoms never fail to impress. About 800 cherry trees line the river for almost 4kms between Gotanda and Shibuya. There are many fancy shops and hidden eateries to enjoy between gazing at pink trees, so take plenty of time and bring your walking shoes. It may be the perfect way to spend a day in Tokyo. Positively cinematic!

FEE: Free

TIME: 24hrs (public road) every day mid-March ~ mid-April.

ACCESS: Naka-Meguro station on Tokyu Toyoko and Hibiya lines. Meguro station on the JR Yamanote, Tokyu Meguro, Namboku, and Mita lines; Gotanda station on the JR Yamanote, Tokyu Ikegami, and Asakusa lines.

Map Link

Ueno Park

If you want to experience Hanami the Tokyo way (read: crowds everywhere), your best bet is to head to Ueno. You should get there early, but I recommend going later in the afternoon towards sunset if the forecast is warm because Ueno park has a great “yozakura” or night-cherry-blossom-viewing display that’s really nice!

FEE: Free

TIME: 8 am to 8 pm every day, 3/23 ~ 4/7.

ACCESS: Ginza, Hibiya, Keisei, or JR lines to Ueno station. 2-minute walk to the park.

Map Link

Chidori-ga-Buchi Green Road

This one is a bit of a surprise but no doubt gorgeous as it lies across the outer lake surrounding the Imperial Palace Grounds and the Japan Budokan. It earned many accolades in the past for hanami due to its central location; people could relax under the blossoms after a hard day at work! If you work nearby, perhaps you should check it out too.

FEE: Free

TIME: 8 am to sunset every day, late March ~ to early April.

ACCESS: Hanzomon, Tozai, and Shinjuku subway lines to Kudanshita station. 10-minute walk to the park.

Map Link

Inokashira Park

Venturing outside the 23 Wards and into the west, Tokyo burbs on the JR Chuo or Keio Inokashira to Kichijoji Station already affords you entry into one of the area’s coolest neighborhoods for shopping, dining, and people-watching; Kichijoji. But at the beginning of spring, Inokashira Park on the area’s southern end turns into an explosion of pink and white, as most of the trees around the main lake are of the Japanese Cherry variety. With the lake’s banks sporting 250 trees in bloom, why not rent one of the paddle boats and catch the view from the middle of the lake?

FEE: Free

TIME: 24 hours every day, late March ~ early April.

ACCESS: JR Chuo Local/Rapid and Keio Inokashira lines to Kichijoji station. Follow the South/Park exit signs, a 10-minute walk to the park.

Map Link

Kunitachi Station Square

Keeping in line with this year’s theme of “Stay Local, Stay Safe,” those living in the western Tokyo Metropolis area can check out many of the suburban cities’ plumages. Many places have trees that line the boulevards, and you’d never know that they are, in fact, sakura trees until this time of year. For example, Kunitachi, a small suburban community along the JR Chuo and JR Nambu lines about 45 minutes west of Shinjuku, has many avenues lined with cherry trees. Head to the area immediately between both stations along Daigaku-dori towards Hitosubashi University, and you can’t miss it.

FEE: Free

TIME: 24hrs (public road) every day mid-March ~ mid-April.

ACCESS: Kunitachi Station on the JR Chuo Line or Yaho Station on the JR Nambu Line.

Map Link

Kabazakura in Saitama

Saitama doesn’t get much love on these pages, and some would generally say so as well. But there are some cool things up in the suburban prefecture to the north of Tokyo proper, and one of those happens to be a unique species of cherry blossom that you can only see there, the Kabazakura. Blooming on only one tree in the wild (you can find many more purposefully planted, of course — pretty much all the blossoms in this part of Saitama come from this original tree!), the 800-year-old Ishitokaba Sakura tree is one of the so-called “five great cherry blossoms of Japan.” It has been the stuff of lore and legend for hundreds of years. The tree and surrounding area have been designated a national treasure since 1922. If you’re into horticultural history, you must check this one out!

FEE: Free

TIME: Daylight hours (public park) every day mid-March ~ mid-April.

ACCESS: From central Tokyo, take the JR Takasaki Line ([JU] and [JS] trains) to Okegawa Station. Then take the 桶川1bus to Ishitoshuku 3-chome (石戸宿3丁目).

Map Link

Kinugasayama Park in Yokosuka

In Kanagawa Prefecture, the best place to check out the pink trees would be Kinugasa Park, located in a hilly section of Yokosuka, home to the US Navy’s sprawling military base of the same name. Some pretty cool historical artifacts are found in this same park, including the ruins of Kinugasa Castle, situated on Mt. Miura. This place is well known for its view of Tokyo and Sagami Bay, with the sakura in view when standing on the tops of the many foothills here.

FEE: Free

TIME: Daylight hours (public park) every day mid-March ~ mid-April.

ACCESS: From central Tokyo, take the Keikyu Line [KK] to Yokosuka Chuo station (KK59) and then the 3, 4, 11, or 53 bus to the stop closest to the entrance of Kinugasayama Park. Or take the JR Yokosuka [JO], Shonan-Shinjuku [JS], or Tokaido [JT] trains to Kinugasa Station (JO02) and walk for about 15~20 minutes.

Map Link

More Information and Resources

Cherry Blossom Forecast – Japan Guide
The Bloom of Cherry Blossoms (JNTO)
Hanami Walker

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Michael Stigall editor

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