In Search of Hanami Flower Viewing Across the Tokyo Area!
Tokyoites are spoiled for choice when it comes to enjoying sakura cherry blossom, with parks, temples and shrines, and even city-center avenues bursting into bloom. But with all of Tokyo picnicking at once, finding a spot to drop your leisure sheet can be difficult to decide. Especially if you’re looking for more breathing space than the major hanami spots can provide, try visiting one of the city’s quieter sakura sweet spots.
Located in Kita Ward, the Asukayama Park area has been a popular place to admire cherry blossoms since the Edo period. One of Japan’s first public parks, it boasts roughly 600 cherry trees, a playground, fountain and two old train cars to explore. It even has a monorail, the Asuka Park Rail, that takes visitors up the hill and into the park. Of course, walking is perfectly acceptable - but who could resist riding a railcar nicknamed Ascargot?
Picnickers who stay late will be treated to blossoms lit by the soft glow of bonbori lanterns. The dates of the light-up depend on the blossoms themselves, and during the event, will stay lit until 21:00.
April 6th and 7th will see the park host the 22nd Kita-ku Sakura SA*KASO Matsuri, with dancing, singing, taiko drumming, and of course, food booths with all your favorite festival treats.
Nearest Stations: Oji Station, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line; Oji-Ekimae Station or Asukayama Station, Toden Arakawa Line
Ikegami-Honmonji Temple and Surrounding Area
Heading south to Ota Ward, those on the lookout for a quieter location to enjoy hanami will find Ikegami-Honmonji Temple and neighboring Honmonji Park. The temple, park and surrounding area are home to a number of trees, with the Ikegami-Honmonji Temple grounds boasting approximately 100 stunning sakura.
While the temple is the main draw, with its 29.37-meter pagoda rising above the blossom-drenched trees, picnicking is not permitted on temple grounds. As such, hungry admirers will have to head to the park post-pagoda visit to set down their blankets and baskets. Several dozen cherry trees are scattered around the park, and children will be pleased to find playground equipment and plenty of space to run about.
Nearest Stations: Ikegami Station, Tokyu Ikegami Line; Nishi-Magome Station, Toei Asakusa Line
Zenpukujigawa Park and Wadabori Park
[Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association]
The Zenpukuji River winds unassuming through the cityscape of Suginami Ward, all sidewalks and roadways, before unexpectedly entering an oasis of green made up of the side-by-side Zenpukujigawa Park and Wadabori Park. Visitors will find Zenpukujigawa Park upstream and Wadabori Park downstream, and the pink-hued blossoms of over 700 cherry trees generously spread between the two.
With plenty of room to run around, and playground equipment scattered across the park grounds, Zenpukujigawa and Wadabori Parks are a good choice for families, who will also find the Suginami Children’s Traffic Park nearby should the kids need more stimulation.
Nearest Stations: Hamadayama Station or Nishi-Eifuku Station, Inokashira Line (Zenpukujigawa Park); Nishi-Eifuku Station, Inokashira Line (WadaboriPark). Buses also available.
[Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association]
With approximately 1,700 cherry trees from 50 varieties, Koganei Park practically glows a delicate pink during sakura season. The largest concentration of trees — and crowds — is in the area in front of the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum , but picnickers will find sakura sprinkled across the park where they can settle down with plenty more room to relax.
Of special note is the fairytale-like Sakura-no-Sono grove of cherry trees, pictured above, found towards the western limits of the park. There, 430 sakura create a canopy of frothy pink over the emerald green lawn.
Those seeking even more space and quiet can pay a small fee to gain entrance to the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum, a gem no matter the season, where visitors can walk much more freely beneath the cherry trees and among the reconstructed houses and shops that make up the open-air museum.
On March 30th and 31st, the 65th Koganei Sakura Matsuri will see food stalls, and stages with music and dance.
Nearest Stations: Musashi-Koganei Station or Higashi-Koganei Station, JR Chuo Line; Hana-Koganei Station, Seibu Shinjuku Line. Buses are available from all stations to the park area.
Musashino Park and Nogawa Park
Though two different parks, Musashino Park and the northern half of Nogawa Park sit side-by-side, flanking the Seibu Tamagawa Line, and a visit to one easily becomes a visit to both. Both parks have a considerable number of cherry trees spread across their ample open spaces, with over 700 in Musashino Park and over 500 in Nogawa Park.
Families will find playground equipment at both parks, and a small stream in which local kids can often be found playing.
Nearest Stations: Musashi-Koganei Station, JR Chuo Line. Buses run from the station to both parks. A 10-minute walk from Shin-Koganei Station, Seibu Tamagawa Line.
These are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to more peaceful places to admire the cherry blossoms. Consider the season the perfect opportunity to explore unknown neighborhoods both near and far: It’s almost guaranteed you’ll come across a new hanami favorite.
Those who like to know just how pink the parks will be before heading out can visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association’s sakura information page. The association updates the page with blooming information for a number of the city’s best sakura spots. Click the icon on the top right for language options.