If seeing Japan's cherry blossoms is on your bucket list, some of the best places are in Tokyo. We asked our friends (photographers) there for insider tips.
The cherry blossoms arrive in Tokyo around the end of March, into April. Then it's time to indulge in one of Japan's favourite past times - Hanami, which literally translates as "looking at flowers".
Head to the Yanaka District
“In full Sakura-bloom the cemetery there is magical.”
The blossoms are incredible and walking through the cemetery is an awe-inspiring, spiritual experience you'll remember for a lifetime. Unlike other popular viewing spots, the cemetery invokes a hushed, pensive atmosphere, leaving its visitors visibly moved.
There’s also loads to explore.
"The whole area is super local, and is perfect if you’re up for exploring a slightly off the beaten path traditional neighborhood of Tokyo which has been locked in time."
“The Yanaka Beer Hall offers craft-beer in a cozy atmosphere, Tokyo Bike flagship store is amazing for the beautiful, historic building it’s in alone, and there are heaps of cute, local cafès. It’s also walking distance to Nezu Shrine, a must-see shrine with rows upon rows of Torii gates (awesome for photography, and one of our go-to locations).”
Along the river in Naka-Meguro
A truly beautiful spot to experience the cherry blossoms is between Tokyo and Yokohama, in Nakameguro.
“A real bonus pf seeing the Sakura here is watching the river as it's full of the petals floating down,” our Yokahama-based photographer David tells us.
“Plus the town goes all out and puts lots of street food and events on,” he adds.
"When you get to Nakameguro, head for the river where the trees line both sides. There are bridges for beautiful views and the perfect pictures, and walkways on either bank."
Make sure to look down and see that abundance of petals floating by!
Thousands of people come to Japan every year to see these blooms, but the length of the river gives you plenty of space to take in what you came to see without feeling crowded.
The town celebrates with a festival every year, with street food, shopping, and events for an incredible cultural experience! Nakameguro boasts tons of coffee shops, traditional Japanese stores, antiques, and more for those who love to browse the shops. At night, the trees are lit up, providing a surreal, almost magical viewing for those lucky enough to see it.
Take Jim's advice
Our expat photographer Jim has lived in Tokyo with his Japanese wife for years. He is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to hot spots and local ideas.
“It’s very, very busy but the Naka-Meguro district really comes to life during cherry blossom season. It’s great fun and there are a ton of cafès and izakayas (a type of informal Japanese gastropub) around there, too.”
Upmarket and quiet in Sengawa
“There’s pretty good Sakura viewing in the affluent neighborhood of Seijo Gakuen Mae. It’s also little more peaceful here.
Trend-setting Aoyama Botchi
“You can combine cherry blossoms with boutique shopping and high-end fashion in this very swanky area of Tokyo.”
“Also, the Aoyama Cemetery sounds macabre, but it's quite a popular place for those in the know. Especially if you’re looking for a quieter experience.
Millenial power near Kichijoji
“Inokashira Park is very young and wild at Hanami time! It’s near a fabulous old-style district with amazing sushi restaurants.”
Harmonica Yokocho for tradition
“There’s an area called Harmonica Yokocho which is also well worth a visit,” adds Jim.
“It’s kept a very traditional feel and is really easy to get to (it’s 15-minute walk from Inokashira Park).”
Countryside vibe in Hakone
“Of course, it being Tokyo, anywhere that has blossoms worth looking at is going to be busy. If you want to head a bit further out, Hakone, about an hour and a half west of Tokyo by train, offers a more rural take on things.
“Also fantastic Fuji views around there!”
We think cherry blossom season is the perfect opportunity to actually put your camera away and experience what you came to see. It’s what we’re all about.
You can let our photographers in Tokyo get amazing holiday photos for you.
A fun, candid holiday photoshoot with Wanderloud is a great way to document these once in a lifetime moments, to “say it all”.