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As a kid, I have always wanted to go to Tokyo. I have imagined myself walking across paths littered with cherry blossom petals, smelling the subtle and crisp aroma while some flowers are slowly falling on top of my hair. I’ve had this vision for years, and with research and some money-saving skills, I managed to make my dream into a reality.
Having lived in Kanagawa area for 2 years, with tons of research and planning, I was able to come up with the best cherry blossom tour itinerary in Japan’s capital city — Tokyo. Trust me, this is the real deal. I have done this tour before and yes it was exhausting. But I had enjoyed it so much that if you were to ask me if I would do it again, definitely I will.
The Self-Guided Tour
This cherry blossom tour in Tokyo that I made has a total of 5 stops, so I suggest that you better hit the road early.
- Be up and running by 8 in the morning, 7 if you want to really enjoy the ambiance and take stunning photos.
- I have arranged it according to the wow factor of the place and its corresponding train route, starting from Ueno area (Yanaka).
- Note that this is the systematic arrangement, it will enable you to avoid running around in circles and going back and forth.
This way, you will save tons of transportation money too. The suggested tour duration for each stop is 45 minutes to an hour. But since this is a self-guided adventure, you may take your time and bask in the glory of these wonderful flowers. Take tons of photos and enjoy this seasonal treat in the wonderful city of Tokyo.[sociallocker id=”7897″] Thank you for sharing! As promised, here’s the .PDF version. Download here. [/sociallocker]
First stop: Yanaka Cemetery
Train station to get off: Nippori station – South Exit
About Yanaka District: Yanaka is famous for its rustic and old town charm, resonant to that of the Tokyo from the past — Shitamachi atmosphere. One of the many attractions that this place boasts is the Yanaka Ginza, which is a cute shopping street that is filled with shops selling variety of goods from produce, merchandises and other daily needs. I personally like to stroll along this area because of cheap snacks and treats like manju, a bun with different filling, is among my many favorite.
However, do not be distracted though. If you are on the hunt for a cherry blossom spectacle, then head immediately to the Yanaka Cemetery, which is famous for their Sakura-dori or Cherry Blossom Lane which attracts tons of visitors every year. The trees in this area are famous for its overhanging branches and proliferous blooms. There’s also a beautiful weeping cherry blossom inside the Tennoji temple that is worth the visit.
Aside from the blooms, some sights to see are the elaborately decorated tombs. Go a little further in your adventure by paying respect to the grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, who was the last shogun of the Edo Period.
- No entrance fee.
- The cemetery is tranquil and serene, thus avoid loud and robust outbursts and laughter.
- While strolling inside, respect the area and maintain the peaceful atmosphere and just enjoy a relaxing time with nature.
Now go back to Nippori Station and ride the Yamanote line (counter-clockwise) to get to Komagome station for the next stop.
Second stop: Rikugien Garden
Train station to get off: Komagome station
About Rikugien Garden: Designed by Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa, the Rikugien Garden, which literally means “six poems garden”, is one of the many Edo period parks and is considered to be Tokyo’s most beautiful landscape garden. Originally with 88 markers scattered around the area as vantage points from where to view the garden best, only few of these markers remain. These markers are the miniature reproduction of 88 scenes from famous poems.
The main highlight of the garden is its large central pond with a surrounding of man-made hills and woody region, all of which are interconnected by a system of easy to follow trails. One spot not to be missed is stream that passes by the amazing Tsutsuji no Chaya teahouse through the Togetsukyo Bridge. It is specially lovely around autumn. As for the blossoms, make sure to see the extremely mesmerizing 70-year old weeping cherry tree which is one of the main attractions of Rikugien planted near the main gate.
- Rikuigen Garden opens at 9:00 AM and the last entry is at 4:30 PM.
- During the cherry blossom season, expect a delightful visual treat as they light up until 9:00 PM.
- You can experience this and more for a measly 300 yen entrance fee.
Head back to Komagome Station and head to Suidobashi Station.
Third stop: Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
Train station to get off: Suidobashi Station
About Koishiakawa Garden: Koishikawa Korakuen is one of the two still well preserved Edo period gardens in modern Tokyo. Built in 1629, the garden was named “Kōraku-en”, Kōraku meaning “enjoying afterwards”, which was based after a Chinese teaching. Similarly, this garden exemplifies solid Chinese features in its design. What is unique in this garden is that it enjoys double appointments from Japanese law as a special place of scenic beauty and a special historic site based on its cultural properties.
Aside from the cherry blossoms, this garden houses several interesting features, one of which is the numerous bridges scattered around the area. While you are there make sure to check two of the famous ones. Tsutenkyo, the first one, is a brilliant red or scarlet bridge that spans across a small ravine. It is exceptionally beautiful during the autumn as it highlights the area wonderfully. The second, Engetsu-kyo, is a barrel bridge that throws a picturesque reflection across the body of water it is situated in. It is also called the Full Moon Bridge, as when the reflection from the water below is combined with the arch of the bridge above, it depicts a perfect resemblance to the moon.
- Koishikawa Korakuen is open from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.
- Admission fee is 300 yen.
Fourth stop: Yasukuni Shrine
Train station to get off: Kudanshita Station
About Yasukuni Shrine: Translated, Yasukuni literally means peaceful country. It is a Shinto shrine established by the Meiji Emperor as a way of memorialize those who died in service for the Empire of Japan.
The highlight of the place, along the shrine grounds is Tokyo’s representative cherry tree. Their meteorological team uses this tree to signal the official opening of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Also surrounded by the representative tree are hundreds of other cherry trees that bloom splendidly during the season. Bring along some mats and prepare snacks, as this area is a perfect place for picnic. Locals and tourists alike practice hanami which literally means flower viewing. Better get your snack game on as this is the best view in the house!
While inside the area, pay a visit to the Yushukan Museum. This museum remembers the wars that Japan went through from a conservative perspective. Tourists need not to worry since the artifacts have a detailed description in English.
- No entrance fee.
- The Yasukuni Shrine is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Yushukan Museum, it operates from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with 800 yen as entrance fee.
Now head back to the where you came from and look for the directions to Chidorigafuchi.
Fifth stop: Chidorigafuchi
Train station to get off: Kudanshita Station
Chidorigafuchi Park is just on the opposite side of Yasukuni Shrine and is absolutely the most beautiful spot in Tokyo to see cherry blossom. It is famous for its 700 meter-long path that is covered with hundred of cherry blossom trees of different species. During sun down, the view is made more stunning with the lit up trees creating a romantic tunnel of flowers. A walk along this path gives you a feeling that you are inside a fairy tale. It is not surprising that more than one million visitors from all over the world choose this as a their ultimate stop to see cherry blossoms the best.
- The park entrance is free.
- Though, if you are willing to have a full blast experience, hire a rowboat. For 800 yen during cherry blossom season, you can enjoy a 30 minute boat ride while experiencing these beautiful blossoms.
- Take note though, there are crazy lines for boat rentals during the hanami season.
Though understandable, try not to be extremely amazed at the cherry blossoms that you forget to eat and rest. I suggest taking a break at the Fukiage Chaya teahouse at the Rikugien Garden. If you are not yet that hungry on the second stop, then you can take a break instead at the Yasukuni Shrine, the fourth stop. Here you can find several food stalls lined up during the cherry blossom season only. Or if you are such a foodie, eat at the restaurants near train stations while on your way to your next destination.
That’s it! The tried and tested best cherry blossom tour itinerary in Japan’s capital city. As long as you respect the rules of the country, appreciate the bloom and have a good time, this will definitely give you the time of your life! Cheers!
Please consider using this guide when you visit Tokyo during the cherry blossom season! And if you do, let me know what you think.