Written by: Wasistha Weesenha Putri
The weather is getting warmer. People wearing coats outside can no longer be seen. The smell of blooming flowers is in the air. Many shops decorated their stores with cherry blossom-themed ornaments. Cafes and restaurants also have started to sell cherry blossom flavored foods and drinks.
Yes, spring has finally come. It is probably the most awaited season in Japan since it brings out Japan’s most iconic flower: the cherry blossoms. Ever heard of someone who doesn’t admire cherry blossoms? Yap, I don’t think so. Everyone loves cherry blossoms!
As a country that is well known for its fondness of festivals, Japan normally has spring festivals being held in every famous cherry blossoms spot, especially when it’s full bloom period. There would be yatai (food stalls) selling Japanese foods and snacks so people could please their eyes and bellies at the same time. People would also come to their favorite park in the town to do hanami (literally means ‘seeing flower’, refers to an activity of enjoying cherry blossoms while having lunch box meals with families or friends).
Unfortunately, last year and this year’s spring has been kind of different because of the happening pandemic. No spring festivals. No hanami. Some city parks have even applied restrictions on the visitor number to avoid crowds.
Knowing those things could be an issue for cherry blossoms fans, I―who also happens to be a big fan―would love to give everyone here 5 recommendations of public spaces with roadside cherry blossom trees row in Tokyo with relatively fewer people than mainstream city parks, so you can admire the flower’s beauty in more peaceful surroundings.
1. Sakura-doori, Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya
About 5 minutes walk from JR Shibuya Station’s west exit, there is a road full of Someiyoshino cherry blossom trees at its both sides. The trees have been planted there since 1991. It has quite wide pedestrian sidewalks, and different types of restaurants are lined up along the road; from family restaurants to Vietnamese food restaurants.
You can also experience the yozakura (literally means ‘night cherry blossoms’) since they light up the trees after it gets dark. The light-up event is being held from March 13rd to April 10th this year.
2. Roppongi Ark Hills (Roppongi Itchome)
If Sakura-doori in Shibuya is only a one-line path of the road, Roppongi Itchome has a couple of roads with cherry blossom trees row at both of its sidewalks outside the Roppongi Ark Hills building. You can soon find the roads in question if you take the escalator and go straight up after coming out from Roppongi Itchome Station exit 2.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t really like crowds, then this place might be your favorite. As we all may know, Roppongi is considered as some kind of elite area. Hence, people do not usually go here to stroll. There are even fewer people here than the Sakura-doori in Shibuya. You can enjoy the cherry blossoms all to yourself, if not with a few people.
Once you’re done pleasing your eyes with approximately 150 trees of Someiyoshino, you can take a rest or have a nice meal inside the Roppongi Ark Hills. They have many cozy cafes and restaurants to choose from.
3. Tokyo Midtown
Still in the Roppongi area, Tokyo Midtown also has roads full of cherry blossoms around its building. Tokyo Midtown is located about 900 meters away from Roppongi Ark Hills, which is definitely reachable by feet in case you want to continue your sight-seeing from there. The building itself is also directly connected to Roppongi Station Exit 8. Either way, it is very easy to access.
They are currently holding a spring event called ″Midtown Blossom 2021″ from March 19th until April 18th. So, besides taking a walk along the street under approximately 103 trees of cherry blossoms, you can also treat yourself to fancy cuisine in the outdoor lounge.
Don’t forget that they have cherry blossoms that light up events too, similar to the one in Sakura-doori in Shibuya.
4. Meguro Riverbank
Meguro Riverbank is actually quite famous as a cherry blossom spot in Tokyo. Every year, thousands of people come to see the cherry blossoms which form a natural tunnel along the riverbank’s path.
The path is approximately 3.8 km long with more than 800 trees of cherry blossoms in a row. It passes through two districts: Meguro-ku and Shinagawa-ku, with the starting point from the Ikejiri Ohashi Station area in Meguro and the endpoint around Tennozu Isle Station area in Shinagawa. Thus, even with a great number of people coming, you will still find some spots where you can observe the slightly pinkish Someiyoshino, peacefully.
If you want to avoid the crowds, go a bit further away from the path around Naka-Meguro Station area since it is the area with the most visitors.
5. Nakano-doori (Nakano Station)
Located in the Nakano-ku district, Nakano-doori is a street right next to JR Nakano Station. You will see two rows of cherry blossom trees on the roadsides, lined up for about 2 km long once you come out from the North Exit of Nakano Station.
This place has been preferred especially by those who love photography. Many photographers― professional and amateur―are longing to capture a photograph of a combination of cherry blossoms and a vivid yellow-colored Seibu Shinjuku train that crosses the street. People said that the contrasting colors combination gives a Japanese drama-like romantic vibe to everyone who sees it.
The most fitting spot to capture the said picture perfectly is from above the Arai 5-chome pedestrian bridge. But, since the bridge is a little bit narrow, please mind not disrupting other pedestrians if you want to take pictures from there.
[BONUS!] Kawagoe Shingashi Riverbank, Saitama
Yes, I did say FIVE recommendations on the first page, but let me give a special bonus of one beautiful spot outside Tokyo!
I’m sure most of you already know about Kawagoe. It is famous for its old town. Many people even call it ″The little Kyoto″. But do you know that not far from the Kawagoe old town, there are cherry blossom trees planted along a riverbank of the river named Shingashi River?
The river is located behind Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine. The cherry blossom trees are stretched for about 500 meters at both sides of the riverbank. The scenery of the trees’ branches overhang towards the inside of the river is exceptionally beautiful. You can also take a wooden boat ride (paid service) and enjoy the cherry blossoms in your own way.
I personally think that this place is perfect because it is located outside Tokyo which means fewer people, but still very accessible because it only takes 45 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku Station by one train. The nearest station is Honkawagoe Station. From there, you can take 7 minutes to ride on the city bus and get off at the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine bus stop.
Cherry blossoms in the Kanto area are probably going to last until around April 10th this year. So, don’t miss your chance. I hope the above recommendations could help you to decide where to go this weekend.
Happy enjoying cherry blossoms!