Hundreds of thousands turn their eyes up to see the stunning and brief display of the cherry blossoms. Starting as early as January in Okinawa, and ending in May in Hokkaido, cherry blossom entrances the nation, and the world, each year. So where should you enjoy the ephemeral beauty of the blossom? How about taking a walking tour in Tokyo to catch some of the best spots.
The walk starts at Ueno station, one of Tokyo’s biggest transport hubs, easily accessible direct from Narita airport, Tokyo metro Ginza and Hibiya lines, the Tokyo loop Yamanote line. Across the (busy) road you will find Ueno koen, Ueno park.
One of the first public parks even opened in Tokyo, Ueno park is full of both museums and shrines. Great at any time of the year, Ueno park comes alive during cherry blossom season as one of Tokyo’s best spots for night time hanami. This is a great place to start a walking blossom tour as over 1,200 cherry blossom trees are planted here. During the season you can enjoy the sakura matsuri (cherry blossom festival) with food stalls and spots to relax under the trees. You can see why this is one of the top 5 spots to visit!
You can spend a good few hours exploring Ueno park, without even entering any of the museums. There are a number of temples and shrines, along with a peony garden. Once you’ve had your fill here we can start the walk to the historic area of Asakusa. You could, of course, easily take the metro to Asakusa station, but exploring the back streets of Tokyo is a real treat! It is easy not to get (too) lost, walk towards the Tokyo Skytree!
Senso-ji is the oldest temple in all of Tokyo and a real must have for all visitors. Although the temple complex itself doesn’t house many blossom trees the nakamise-dori leading to the temple’s main building is decorated with branches during the spring.
Day or night Asakusa Senso-ji offers some stunning views. Night can be a stunning time and slightly emptier than it is during the daylight hours. It can be rewarding to explore the area, there are some beautiful weeping cherry varieties planted in and around the temple grounds.
Once you’ve tried some tradition snacks such as taiyaki or senbei crackers you can head east again towards the Sumida river and our next stop, Sumida park.
To get to Sumida Park we must first cross Sumida river, which flows all the way into Tokyo bay. There are 26 bridges available to cross the river, and it is possible to walk along the banks whilst enjoying the cherry blossom for some time!
Sumida park is possibly most famous for the Sumidagawa fireworks that are held there in July, but while the hanabi take centre stage in summer, it is the hanami that brings the crowds in spring (Anyone spot that pun >.<). There are 700 cherry trees planted in Sumida park, and it offers great views of the delicate pink blossom against the power of the Sumida river.
Right next/within to Sumida Park, on the way to our final stop at the Tokyo Skytree, is Ushijima shrine. One of the draws of this small shrine complex is the “nade ushi” cuddling ox statue which can help cure physical and mental health problems. There is a small garden and a number of shrine buildings, plus the beautiful delicate sakura!
On our final leg of the journey we walk towards the towering Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in Japan, a great place to finish our sakura tour of Tokyo. Tokyo Skytree does have a few cherry trees by the base, which tend to bloom in late February, earlier than the regular blossoms. Instead of viewing these leafy trees we can head inside the Solamachi department store beneath the tower.
Alongside picking up some sakura themed items from stores such as Daiso, the food floors offer some of springs best treats, including ichigo daifuku and sakura mochi! If you time it right you can even get to the Skytree just before dusk, and travel up to 450m and watch the sunset on Tokyo!
Distance walked: 4.6km
Cherry trees seen: Over 2,000!
Let me know if you try this walk, it is a great way to see some of Tokyo’s top spots whilst enjoying hanami!