To see and feel the Sakura with your own eyes and experience in the way the Japanese do is something different and unique.
So we went to Japan last March of 2019 and we chose Tokyo over Osaka to be our destination – our first time in Japan. Like many of you, we want to witness and experience what sakura season is all about in Tokyo. I love and long to travel to Japan, and for a lot of reasons and it’s crazy it never pushes through. Finally, we set and planned our travel dates on the predicted Sakura season and gladly, the forecast was accurate. For this trip, we decided to just stay in around Tokyo and booked our hotel in Shinjuku City. A beautiful metro city filled with character and charm.
Everything you see in Tokyo has Sakura’s influence. The tiny pink flower is the center of activities by the locals and travelers. All the shops and merchandise are colored and printed with pink flowers. A huge example is chocolates, cakes, clothes, soft drinks, and beer cans that are all decorated with cherry blossoms. Everything is meticulously done and created perfectly especially foods.
All things considered, Sakura season or not, Japan is a beautiful country to visit. So addictive it makes you coming back for more!
It’s no surprise millions of visitors come to Japan during this season. It’s on everyone’s bucket list and a dream destination to fulfill. We were on time for the blossoming of the flowers and it really amazes me still until now. Unfortunately, the cherry trees near Mount Fuji are still a week from blossoming.
Cherry Blossoms or Sakura signals the end of the cold season and the beginning of the spring season. The cherry blossoms have become an annual event and tradition that people from across the world come and see the blossoming of these flowers. In Japanese culture, Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) and Yozakuras ( late night viewing) is a tradition where people gather and have a picnic, drinks under a cherry tree. The cherry blossom is considered the national flower of Japan.
Usually, the end of March or the first week of April commences the sakura season that lasts for two weeks.
Customarily, a meteorological forecast by Japan Meteorological Corporation will forecast the start and location of the iconic bloom. This is the forecast for 2020 and from the last year 2019.
Sakura 2020 and Covid-19 Coronavirus
As of this writing, Japan and the world is suffering of this virus called Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and global death toll is increasing each day. It’s alarming that our health and life is at risk – most especially the vulnerable ones. Our only question is – when will this be over?
Traveling industry is suffering at it’s worst. Majority of countries are under isolation and this means global tourism industry could cripple for years.
This is happening right now in Japan – a country that I love. It’s sad to hear that more cherry blossom festival in Japan has been canceled or postponed due to the deadly coronavirus spreading like wildfire. The number of infected persons is increasing daily leading to canceling the festival, temporary closure of parks and school is issued as a precautionary step done by the Japanese government. The majority of tourist spots, shops, and restaurants are temporarily closed because of fear and infection prevention. Due to the nature of the virus, it is advisable to avoid large gatherings, cut non-essential travel and as much as possible to stay indoors.
Also, what if the people who travel can also be the superspreader of the virus? With that, my travel plans for this year are all on-hold.
Cherry Blossom, Plum or Peach?
So how to distinguish a cherry blossom from a plum or peach blossom? From afar, the pink-flowering-trees all look the same and identical even in colors but they do not. So I googled some information and the simplest explanation is through this picture below.
The following are the places we went for Cherry Blossoms experience in Tokyo
1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This is one of the largest national parks in Shinjuku spanning an area of 58 hectares of beautiful landscape and gardens (French, English & Japanese garden). Located in the heart of Tokyo, the garden is clean and well kept and has more than a thousand cherry trees making it a perfect and pleasant hanami spot.
This is the first park we’ve been to since our hotel is just a walking distance. We came in early and crowds are gathering at the main entrance (Shinjuku Gate) for ticketing or you can book online. Additionally, there is an entrance to the south and west area (Okido Gate and Sendagaya Gate).
The park has restaurants, vending machines, coffee shops, and toilets everywhere and having a picnic is allowed but alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Also, drones and bicycles are prohibited inside the park.
Access: from JR Shinjuku station, south exit walking approx. 10 mins / Shinjuku-Gyoenmae station, exit 1 walking approx. 5 mins / Shinjuku-Sanchome station, exit E5 walking approx. 5 mins
Operation Hours: 9:00~16:00 (the gate will close at 16:30)
Adult 500 yen (around 5 USD)
Child (Junior high school students and below) is free.
2. Ueno Onshi Park
The park is huge and rows of cherry trees are everywhere. It’s beautiful and amazing how the shades of pink to white cherry blossom trees are lined up parallel to each other. As expected, the place is busy and crowded as it allows a picnic in the park.
Ueno Park has temples, museums, art galleries restaurants, food stalls, souvenir shops, a Starbucks, and it’s right next to a train station. And of course, my favorite vending machines are everywhere.
Access: Ueno Park is just next to JR Ueno Station. Easiest access is provided by the station’s “Park Exit”.
Admission Fee: Ueno Park is free to the public. Except for the museums & the Ueno Zoo.
3. Meguro River
Another cherry blossom spot we visited is at Meguro River. Cherry trees are stretched parallel to the river spanning almost 4 kilometers with pink lanterns to them. The neighborhood is mostly residential with a few souvenir shops and hipster cafes on the street, so finding a spot for a picnic is not advisable.
A beautiful place to chill and enjoy cherry trees until the night is at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery outdoor decks (3F & 4F) which is just beside the river. The roastery is a four-story building and sports a glass wall offering a great view of the river.
The true beauty of the Meguro River comes out during night time as the blossoms are lit up. Sadly, we didn’t stay much longer until nighttime.