How’s everyone holding up with the stay-at-home days?
The cherry blossoms should be around full bloom this weekend in Tokyo. Unfortunately with the COVID-19 rage, everyone is advised to stay at home. Well, this sakura season comes in every year, so I do hope the people in Tokyo are sensible and socially responsible not to risk their own or other lives.
Snowing in Spring
I read about how it’s snowing heavily in Tokyo today and recalled how in the past years, there was almost always one day around spring when it will snow, so you get to see snowy sakura scenery which is really magical.
Sakura Matsuri at Gardens by the Bay
Even though I can’t be in Tokyo in this lovely season, I made a trip down to Gardens by the Bay for the Cherry Blossoms Festival (Sakura Matsuri). You know in Chinese which we say “no fish, prawn also can.” LOL
It’s actually kind of surreal to see cherry blossoms in the midst of tropical trees and plants. But we totally enjoyed strolling in this fully covered and fully air-conditioned space. If you had visited this exhibition over the weekend, they also have some Japanese tea ceremony sessions.
My favourite spots
Anyway, I look back at my old photos and find that there are always a few spots in Tokyo I will visit for sakura viewing. From the popular spots to the less known ones, we will spend 2-3 weeks strolling around these spots to feel the atmosphere of spring. I don’t really have hay fever, but I can imagine it’s a love-and-hate relationship with spring for those who have this frustrating allergy.
This is one of the most popular spots, and you can be assured that there will be a full crowd over the weekends, and we always try to go on a weekday or weekday night if possible. I think more than sakura viewing, sometimes I’m there more for the food stalls. You can be sure to be ripped off by slightly more expensive drinks and snacks, but well once a year “feast”, so can’t be stingy right?
This is also one of the most popular places. In fact, Tokyo announces its cherry blossoms flowering based on this specific sakura tree which always attracts crowds to see it in person.
Almost an iconic spot, here’s where you can see sakura trees surrounding this moat, littered with couples on boats. On a busy day, you need to queue up to 2-3 hours just for your “romantic” boat ride with tens of other couples.
Surroundings of Imperial Palace
On a sunny day with the cool spring breeze, a stroll around the Imperial Palace is highly recommended. Even though you have to be aware of the runners along the same route, it’s always a refreshing experience to enjoy this view of nature with high buildings in the background.
National Theatre of Japan
I wasn’t a walker in the past, but with the “training” I’ve got in Japan, it was natural that my legs became well-trained to walk long distances. We can spend hours walking, with coffee breaks in-between, in this lovely season. This spot was chanced upon during one of those long-distance strolls.
If you want to enjoy some sakura-viewing near a shopping mall, then this is probably one of the places to go. You can enjoy some cherry blossoms, shopping, coffee breaks and even meals at the countless restaurants in the vicinity.
Since you are already in Roppongi area, why not head down to Tokyo Midtown? This is also another spot when you can enjoy sakura trees lining up along the roadside. There are also a few outdoor cafe space so that you can enjoy some coffee while chillaxing among the cherry blossoms.
I’m sure Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the place most will go for sakura. You will need to pay an entrance fee of 500 JPY per pax (used to be 200 JPY) to enter, and no alcoholic drinks are allowed inside. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, this place is closed for entry at the moment.
Fear not, there are other random spots in Shinjuku, you can enjoy cherry blossoms.
Other less known spots
If you are not a fan of crowds, then there are a few other less-known spots in Tokyo where I will go to enjoy cherry blossoms. Sometimes, it’s more like I visited those places to run some errands or just go for a nice quiet lunch and accidentally found that they have some nice sakura viewing spots too.
I wouldn’t have known this area if I weren’t working around this area many years ago. It’s a nice quiet area for cozy French/Italian restaurants and usually, only local people will be walking around this area.
If you are tired of the tourist crowds in Ginza area, then Nihonbashi is probably the quieter area that you can still have some breathing space. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the crowds from Ginza are starting to spill over to this area too.
If you happen to have a comic or anime fan, then probably Nakano Broadway is a familiar name. Along the roadside, you will find rows of pretty sakura trees.
Around the neighbourhood
Frankly speaking, depending on where you are staying in Tokyo, sometimes you can find sakura trees in your neighbourhood too. On days when you just don’t want to travel on public transport, especially in the current situation, then maybe a stroll around the neighbourhood, in the park, along the river, will be a real treat.
Hope for the peaceful days
Staying at home all day for an extended period of time can be really difficult, but I’m basically trying to do “virtual” travelling by looking at old travel photos, and fantasising about the next trip we can go for once all these lock-down modes are over.
Let’s all try to be socially responsible and tide over these tough times together!