“Hanami” or cherry blossom viewing is one of the most traditional Japanese customs during the spring season. Parks on weekends and in the evenings on weekdays are full of people drinking and singing karaoke usually in the last week or March and the first week of April, depending on how early the sakura bloom.
Last year, because of the March 11 disaster, many people decided to exercise self-restraint and the cherry blossom gatherings weren’t as festive as they usually are.
This year, things should be back to normal. But the disaster victims in Tohoku aren’t forgotten. At many big venues, alcohol and food from the Tohoku region will be sold to raise funds for disaster relief.
Here are a few popular spots.
1. Roppong Hills in Tokyo
From the end of March until mid-April. The sakura trees will be lit up from 5:30 p.m. ~ 11 p.m.
More information: http://www.roppongihills.com/
2. Ueno-Onshi Park in Tokyo
Yoshino and other kinds of cherry trees draw big crowds. Entrance to the park is free, except between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
More information: http://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/park/format/index038.html
3. Asukayama Park in Tokyo
Asukayama Park is famous because Yoshimune Tokugawa who was the 8th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, planted many sakura trees for the people to enjoy “hanami.”
More information: http://www.mapple.net/spots/G01301890001.htm
4. Sumida Park in Tokyo
It is possible to enjoy the sakura trees both at the park and from sightseeing boats. The sakura festival will be held between March 20 and April 8.
More information: http://www.enjoytokyo.jp/amuse/event/563390/
5. Meguro-kawa (Meguro river) in Tokyo
The sakura trees along the promenade of the Meguro river are gorgeous. Walk along the riverside and you’ll see many unique shops and cafes.
More information: http://meguro-kanko.com/
6. Yoshino-yama in Nara
Some 30,000 sakura trees will be in bloom in Yoshino-yama between the beginning of April and the end of the month. It is a world heritage spot.
More information: http://www.town.yoshino.nara.jp/kankou_new/kaika/index.htm
7. Tsurumai Park in Nagoya
The park has about 1,200 sakura trees which will be lit up from March 29 to April 11. There will also be beer gardens. On April 8, a sakura concert will be held as well.
More information: http://tenki.jp/sakura/point-540.html
8. Shukugawa Park in Hyogo
With its 2.7 kms of cherry blossom and pine trees along the riverside, it was selected as one of the 100 most beautiful cherry blossom spots in Japan and widely known as the foremost beautiful spot in Hyogo Prefecture. The Nishinomiya Sakura Festival will be held on April 1.
More information: http://nishinomiya-kanko.jp/midokoro/spot/auto52.html
9. Moere-numa Park in Hokkaido
Some 2,800 sakura trees will be blooming from the beginning of May until the middle of the month. This park is popular among families. It opens from 7a.m. to 9p.m.
More information: http://www.sapporo-park.or.jp/moere/index.php
10. Taishojin Park in Fukuoka
The sakura tunnel will appear in Taishojin Park between the end of March and the beginning of April. Trees will be lit up between 6p.m. and 9p.m. On April 1, the Daishojin Sakura Festival will be held.
More information: http://www.kankou-iizuka.jp/events/10