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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 19 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Rob Goss

Every spring Japan goes into sakura (cherry blossom) frenzy. The subject of everything from traditional haiku verse and woodblock prints to apps that track its flowering, sakura is deeply woven into Japanese culture.

Sakura are the blossoms of ornamental cherry trees – although found across Asia, Japan has historically been home to especially large varieties which were subsequently cultivated into today’s impressive displays. Reflecting both its aesthetic and its importance to Japanese culture, cherry blossom became the national flower of Japan.

When the blossoms briefly reach peak bloom in late March or early April, nothing is as Japanese as heading out to enjoy a spot of hanami (cherry blossom viewing).

Cherry blossoms around Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo, Japan. The northernmost part of Edo Castle is now a park name Chidorigafuchi. People boating and enjoy at sakura cherry blossom at Chidorigafuchi Park.
Experience

Chidorigafuchi

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Weeping blossoms engulf this moat at the Imperial Palace, where 250+ sakura trees cram the banks. Walk or better still see it from a rowboat for maximum effect (hire from Chidorigafuchi boat parking). Arguably the most impressive hanami spot in Toyko, especially at night, when the trees are lit up.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Cherry Blossoms at Nakameguro
Experience

Nakameguro Park

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Cherry blossoms and street vendors line the river that runs through this hip neighbourhood – night-time illuminations make it especially lovely after dark.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Cherry Blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen Park
Experience

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Hundreds of cherry trees, combined with an entrance fee and no-alcohol policy, make the lawns of this park a great hanami spot for families.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Uneo Park
Experience

Uneo Park

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

If you want your hanami to be lively rather than contemplative, this sprawling park on the east side is boozy hanami central.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
Frequency: annually
When: March, May and Sept
Duration: 2-3 hours

Getting there & doing it

The cherry blossom trees are found across the city – it’s all about finding a pleasant place to appreciate them from. (See our recommendations).

Whether you find blossoms in a park heaving with picnickers or a quiet stretch of petal-strewn riverbank, hanami is accessible to all. Just get a picnic sheet, a few drinks and something to snack on – then chill under the sakura’s shade.

When to do it

The blossoms appear in spring (March & April), with peak blooms in late March or early April.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Aman Tokyo

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

A contemporary five-star luxury retreat, high above the city, offers bird’s eye views over Tokyo to Mount Fuji. Relax in the superb spa, employing authentic Japanese wellness rituals.

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BnA Studio Tokyo

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

A recently-opened boutique hotel with just 6 rooms, each a unique art installation, in a convenient location in Akihabara.

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Hoshinoya Tokyo

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

A high-rise, high-end contemporary take on the traditional ryokan with a great central location.

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Hotel K5

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

Uber-hip Scandi-inspired boutique hotel with great access to Tokyo Station, Ginza, and key business districts. A chilled-out base for hipsters.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Tokyo

Kanto, Japan

A dizzying mixture of old ways and modern style, crowds and calm, and arguably the best food scene on the planet.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

A day in Hakone [& Mount Fuji]

Hakone, Kanto, Japan

This mountainous area west of Tokyo combines magical Mount Fuji views with traditional Japanese luxury – traditional ryokan inns, sublime kaiseki-ryori dinners and onsen (natural hot-spring baths).

Best for ages: 10+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Bullet Train

Japan

Reaching speeds of up to 320 km/h, Japan’s iconic bullet train revolutionised high speed train travel when it first launched in 1964, only eclipsed in 2002 by new maglev trains. For locals, it’s a fast, convenient and safe means to travel between Japan’s major cities. For everyone else, it’s a must do.

Best for ages: 4+ | £90 | 2+ hours

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A day in Kamakura

Kamakura, Kanto, Japan

From 1185 to 1333, Kamakura was Japan’s political centre, leaving a legacy of absorbing temples, shrines and traditions – including an iconic 11.4-metre bronze statue of Buddha.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Ghibli museum is a place that shows the work of Japanese animation Studio Ghibli, features of children, technology and finearts dedicated to art and animation technique
Experience

Ghibli Museum

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

A must for anime fans, this museum out west in Mitaka is dedicated to the creations of legendary animators Studio Ghibli.

Best for ages: 13+ | £4 | 2-3 hours

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Drinks in Golden Gai

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

This collection of ramshackle alleyways in Shinjuku is home to some of Tokyo’s tiniest, but most unique bars.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Imperial Palace & Gardens
Experience

Imperial Palace & Gardens

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

The Imperial family’s current home is off-limits to visitors, but you can steal photogenic glimpses and stroll the pretty East Gardens.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Bonsai trees in Omiya

Saitama, Kanto, Japan

The small town of Omiya is renowned for its bonsai nurseries and bonsai museum. For a fascinating insight into the art of bonsai, and their role in traditional Japanese culture, a day trip here is an absolute must.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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