My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: February 28, 2020
A visit to Tokyo in late March or early April isn't complete without a hanami (flower-viewing) session to see Japan's iconic cherry blossoms, or sakura. If you can't get enough of these tiny, delicate blossoms in daytime, they're just as lovely at night. During cherry blossom season, many parks and gardens—and even some neighborhoods—light up their cherry trees from sundown. The illuminated flowers, which give off an ethereal glow, are called yozakura—cherry blossoms at night.
The cluster of cherry trees lining the banks of the Chidorigafuchi moat is a sight to behold. Some 260 trees, mainly of the famous Somei Yoshino variety, bloom along the 700-meter-long walkway, forming what looks like a tunnel of cherry blossoms. At night, the illuminated blossoms and the buildings in the Marunouchi business district, complement each other beautifully. The Chidorigafuchi boating area is open until late night during the Chiyoda Sakura-matsuri Festival. Whether during the day or at night, you can enjoy the view of cherry blossoms hanging over the moat.
Nakameguro is a low-key but chic neighborhood full of trendy restaurants and shops. The Meguro-gawa River flowing through this residential district is one of Tokyo's most famous spots for cherry blossom-viewing. Some 800 trees lining a 3.8-kilometer-long stretch form a pale pink arch over the river—a gorgeous sight that makes for lovely photos. During the Nakameguro Sakura-matsuri Festival in early April, this quiet neighborhood comes alive as the trees between Tenjin-bashi Bridge and Horai-bashi Bridge are illuminated. In addition to the illuminations, paper lanterns and food stalls lend a festive atmosphere to the area. Take a stroll down Nakameguro and enjoy this splendid view.
Rikugien is the perfect example of an Edo period Japanese garden. It was constructed in 1702 by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, a feudal lord and vassal to the shogun (military commander), who was inspired by the picturesque scenes in waka poetry. On the flatlands of the former Musashino region, Yanagisawa dug ponds and built hills to create a classic example of a luxurious garden, worthy of a feudal lord. Walking past the front gate within the gardens brings into view an impressive 70-year-old shidarezakura (weeping cherry blossom) tree. Even today, its branches are each covered in pale pink flowers during cherry blossom season. The sight of its petals flowing down like a waterfall is absolutely worth seeing.
Tokyo Midtown has some 105 cherry trees, most of which are of the Somei Yoshino variety. Additionally, Tokyo Midtown also commands a spectacular view of the 44 cherry trees in the adjacent Hinokicho Park. The blossoms on Sakura-dori Street are illuminated at night, making for a romantic view in the heart of Tokyo. The lights change colors throughout cherry blossom season. Buds are illuminated in pink, while cherry blossoms in full bloom are illuminated in white. Every year, Tokyo Midtown holds an event called Midtown Blossom to celebrate cherry blossom season. In previous years, Midtown Blossom has featured live music performances and a cherry blossom-themed champagne lounge, among other activities and attractions.