This year, sakura (桜) started to bloom a bit earlier than it usually does. Normally, sakura should be in full bloom around early April, just in time for entrance ceremony (入学式-nyugakushiki) for schools in Japan. But this year, the season has started from mid-March which is around the time for graduation ceremony (卒業式-sotsugyoushiki). This probably explains why there are a lot of girls in “Hakama (袴)”, a Japanese costume for graduation ceremony, taking photos with beautiful sakura scene.
I used to live in Beppu city, a small city in Oita prefecture, for about 3.5 years. Every year, our only option was always Beppu park (別府公園）. So I got a bit excited when sakura started to bloom this year having heard that there are so many good spots here in Tokyo. Last year, I was also away for a company training in Nagano (長野県）, a famous city for skiing and winter activities. Therefore, I can say that this year is actually my first time for sakura spotting in Tokyo.
When we talk about going out picnic under the sakura trees or just simple going for a walk along the river with beautiful sakura and others, the word ‘hanami (花見）’ is used. This word literally means ‘flower-viewing’, hana (花）= ‘flower’ and mi (見）= ‘see’ from the verb ‘mi-ru (見る)’ . Thus, in other words, it means flowers viewing which is particularly imply to sakura.
This time, I visited two places for hanami in Tokyo: Naka-meguro and Yoyogi park.
- Yoyogi park
Yoyogi park is a famous park in the city center of Tokyo. The closest JR station is Harajuku- one of the most famous shopping area so, it is always packed with people during this season. This time, my friend and I decided to walk into the park just to see the sakura. We did not expect to sit down and have a picnic under the sakura tree at all since we can predict that the park is already full of people. We took a lot of pictures. It was enjoyable just to see beautiful sakura and people having fun with their families and friends. 🙂
I have heard a lot of good things about Naka-meguro. It is located in meguro-ku and is only one station away from Shibuya on a rapid train on Tokyu-Toyoko line which is the line I use to commute everyday. The sakura view here is famous since there are sakura trees are along both sides of meguro river. It is an amazing view. 🙂 I had the best time there. I can say it was the best hanami I’ve ever had. The whole area was so beautiful with all the sakura in full bloom. It looks kind of like a sea or a huge cloud of pinkish-white sakura. I can just walk there all day. There are many interesting shops, cafes and food carts all around, too. So the hanami experience in Naka-meguro is definitely worthwhile.
Moreover, in Naka-meguro, they have lanterns hanging on the branches of sakura trees. They light them up at night during sakura festival. This year the festival starts from April 7th which is too late for the season this year. All the sakura will probably be gone by then…
Some other good spots I have heard of:
1) Shinjuku Gyoen, 2) Ueno park, 3) Sumida park, 4) Inokashira park
…and so many others. Enjoy your hanami everybody!