Activities for cherry blossom season in Tokyo


cherry blossom activities cover
Image adapted from:@newyorkjoeexchange and @iamkatsuyas

The cherry blossom season in Japan usually takes place from the last week of March till mid-April. Since it’s coming soon, we’ve zeroed in on 6 hanami spots – Ueno Park, Yanaka Cemetery, Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Sumida Park, Inokashira Park, and Meguro River – and gathered 13 things to do after you’re done admiring the sakura flowers. 

From visiting a retro amusement park and taking selfies with Tokyo’s free-roaming cats to free-flow umeshu and fruit liqueur, there’s a surprising number of activities that are not only within walking distance from each of the 6 sakura locations, but are also not your usual tourist traps.


– Ueno Park & Yanaka Cemetery –


Ueno park cherry blossom
Image credit:
Trevor Dobson

The cherry trees at Ueno Park usually blossom early so if you’re here in late March, include this hanami spot in your itinerary. 

Address: 5-20, Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan
Opening hours: 5AM-11PM, Daily
Directions: 5-minute walk from Ueno Station on the Ginza subway line

yanaka cemetery cherry blossom
Image credit: @oknaka

Ueno Park is also located close to Yanaka Cemetery, another cherry blossom hotspot. It may seem disrespectful to celebrate the sakura season among tombstones, but the locals believe that this is one of the many ways to connect to the people that have passed on.

That said, it’s always respectful to watch your volume and avoid raising a ruckus.

Address: 7 Chome-5-24 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
Opening hours: 8.30AM-5PM, Daily
Directions: 5-minute walk from Sendagi Station on the Chiyoda subway line


1. Yusoshi Chano-ma – meals in bed


yusoshi chano-ma
Image credit:
@food_fighter0141

Yusoshi Chano-ma is known for its meals-in-bed concept. The Japanese cafe replaces tables and chairs with beds so that diners can literally lie back and relax after chasing cherry blossoms. 

Newbie parents will also find this place a blessing. Kids can nap comfortably while the adults take a break from childcare duties and have their meals in peace. There is a toilet equipped with a diaper changing table as well.

yusoshi chano-ma meals on bed
Image credit:
@masa06mi

Look out for their Daily Lunch Specials for just ¥1,180 (~USD10.56). It includes a bowl of whole-grain brown rice, soup, and 3 side dishes out of 12 choices such as Japanese Omelette with Seasoned Cod Roe Sauce and Shrimp and Broccoli with Chili Mayonnaise.

If you have a small stomach, you can opt for a small lunch platter at just ¥1,180 (~USD8.77).

Address: 9F, Ueno Marui, 6-15-1, Ueno, Taitoku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 11AM-11PM, Daily
Directions: 5-minute walk from Ueno Park, 20-minute walk from Yanaka Cemetery


2. Momi no Yu Cafe – Japanese foot bath-cum-cafe 


momi no yu cafe cherry blossom  Image credit: @mominoyu_ashiyucafe_ueno

After a long day of sightseeing, rest your feet at Momi no Yu Cafe. Famed for its ashi-yu (Japanese foot bath), the water here is purified with mineral stones and regular patrons come back as ashi-yu is believed to improve blood circulation.

A 45-minute foot bath costs ¥1,080 (~USD9.78) and even comes with a free body massage.

momi no yu cafe foot bath
I
mage adapted from: @mominoyu_ashiyucafe_ueno

The bath package also comes with 15 herbal tea selections such as Glutealea (ダイエット茶), Samahan (サマハン), and Consitap (どっとでる茶). Each drink comes with health benefits like reducing body fats, detoxing, and preventing constipation.

The cafe also offers a special 1-hour lunchtime foot bath package at ¥1,500 (~USD13.58), from 11AM to 3PM. It includes Sri Lanka curry, coffee-flavoured jelly, and a glass of herbal tea. 

momi no yu cafe menu
Image adapted from: jrvacation.com

Note that the English names of the herbal teas may be loosely translated from Japanese. To check out the extensive list of health benefits, ask for their menu or refer to the picture above. 

Address: 4 Chome-5-2 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan
Opening hours: 11AM-12AM, Daily
Directions: 12-minute walk from Ueno Park, 20-minute walk from Yanaka Cemetery


3. Yanaka Ginza – a popular sunset spot with free-roaming cats


Yanaka Ginza sunset spot cherry blossom
Image credit: @tomxtomoya

From Yanaka Cemetery, you can walk to Yuyake Dandan, a famous photography stop. It’s known as a good place to capture the golden glow of sunset. The best vantage shot comes at the cost of a short workout – climbing 36 steep steps – but the views are worth it.

You’ll pass by Yanaka Ginza, a 200-metre long shopping street lined with Japanese street food, fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, and plenty of independent boutiques where you can snag one-off rare finds. 

Yanaka Ginza cats
Image credit:
@iamkatsuyas

Yanaka Ginza is also home to free-roaming cats – it’s like the Aoshima Cat Island, but way more accessible and convenient. Even if you don’t manage to capture the purrfect sunset shot, we’re sure the company of furry feline friends will more than make up for it.

Address: 3 Chome-13-1 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
Directions: 5-minute walk from Yanaka Cemetery, 25-minute walk from Ueno Park


– Shinjuku Gyoen Park –


shinjuku gyoen park cherry blossom
Image credit:
Wikimedia Commons

Avid cherry blossom fans should head to Shinjuku Gyoen Park for a picnic. There are 3 themed gardens in the park – an English garden, French garden, and a Japanese garden. There’s plenty of space to lay back while the ground is blanketed in pink. 

The cherry trees here tend to blossom outside of the forecasted cherry blossom season, so travellers who missed out on sakura flowers in their prime can try their luck at Shinjuku Gyoen Park.

Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan
Opening hours: 9AM-4.30PM, Daily
Directions: 10-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station, 5-minute walk from Shinjukugyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line


4. Shugar Market – unlimited fruit liqueur, umeshu & free desserts


shugar market liquor cherry blossom
Image credit: @katsu_takada

Shugar Market is an all-you-can-drink umeshu and fruit liqueur shop located just a stone’s throw away from Shinjuku Gyoen Park.

You’ll receive 4 glasses and you can refill them as many times as you want during the course of your liquid buffet. Choose between a 30-minute course (¥1000, ~USD8.98), 90-minute course (¥2000, ~USD17.96) or even better, an unlimited course for ¥3000 (~USD26.94) so you can drink your fill at your own pace.

There are over 100 types of alcohol to try out – pace yourself and try not to get too drunk!

shugar market liquor with tags
Image adapted from:
@sakasho282

You can even try your hand at mixing cocktails. Each alcoholic beverage is tagged with a visual guide to help you create a tasty blend. Mixers include fruit juices, soy milk, and even oolong tea.

Try their signature blend, Hyakunen Umeshu, Japan’s number one umeshu. Or sample the Tamba Milk Liqueur, the world’s first natural milk liqueur. It has a rich milky taste and doesn’t contain nasty additives and food colouring. 

shugar market liquor with desserts
Image credit:
@shugar_info

The umeshu speciality shop also offers free-flow ice cream, toppings, and even miso soup to help you sober up. For an extra alcoholic punch, add a shot of liquor to your dessert.

Shugar allows patrons to bring in food from outside, so feel free to grab some takeaway before hitting the shop.

shugar market
Image credit: @
yumstagram__555

Tip: Paying the entrance fee at either Shugar Market, Kurand Sake Market (all-you-can-drink sake bar), or Havespi (all-you-can-drink shochu bar) will earn you a stamp and access to all 3 shops. 

Address: Blue Mountain Masami 3F, 2-9-2, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0043, Japan
Opening hours: Mon – Fri, 5PM-11PM | Sat & Sun, 12PM-4PM, 5PM-11PM
Directions: 5-minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Website


5. Shinjuku Comedy Club – features Mr Uekusa, Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist


shinjuku comedy club cherry blossom
Image credit:
Shinjuku Comedy Club

Fans of Mr Uekusa’s comic striptease involving silk cloths, a saucer, or a cup over his family jewels can catch him live at Shinjuku Comedy Club. Joining him are 6 more comedians, such as BAD x TEN from Asia’s Got Talent 2019 and Yumbo Dump from America’s Got Talent 2018, on a rotational basis.

The 1-hour event happens every Wednesday at 6.30PM. Expect to witness magical stunts and non-verbal comedy performances tailored for the international crowd. 

You can purchase your tickets online at ¥3,000 (~USD26.95) for adults or ¥1,500 (~USD13.47) for children aged 3 to 15.

Address: 3-20-8 Shinjuku Wamall Tops House 4F, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan
Directions: 20-minute walk from Shinjuku Gyoen Garden
Website


– Sumida Park –


sumida park cherry blossom
Image credit:
@nancylai_

There are plenty of prime locations to catch the Tokyo Skytree, but Sumida Park takes the number one spot. Photographers often visit the park for a stunning picture of the Tokyo Skytree aesthetically framed with sakura.

Address: 1 Chome-2-5 Mukojima, Sumida City, Tokyo 131-0033, Japan
Directions: 5-minute walk from Asakusa Station on the Ginza, Asakusa and Tobu Isezaki lines


6. Sasaya Cafe – warehouse-turned-vegan cafe


sasaya cafe lunch cherry blossom
Image credit: @sasayacafe

Sasaya Cafe uses natural and organic ingredients to create healthy and tasty vegan food. Its weekday lunch menu focuses on South Indian cuisine, but the spices are used moderately and adjusted for the Japanese palate. 

sasaya cafe organic matcha muffin
Desserts made with organic ingredients
Image credit: @sasayacafe

Its dessert menu is nothing run-of-the-mill too. Sweet treats are freshly-baked in-house, and recipes call for healthy organic ingredients that don’t compromise on taste. Try the Matcha & Caramel Almond Muffins – the taste of brown sugar adds an aromatic hint of sweetness to the green tea flavour.

sasaya cafe merchandise
Image credit:
@kaori_nkk

Sasaya Cafe was converted from a warehouse, but it’s been renovated to let in plenty of natural light. A corner of the cafe is dedicated to selling organic coffee, honey, and Sasaya-branded merch like t-shirts and canvas bags. 

Address: 1-1-10 Yokokawa Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0003, Japan
Opening hours: 8.30AM-6PM, Daily
Directions: 14-minute walk from Sumida Park


7. Asakusa Hanayashiki – oldest amusement park in Japan


asakusa hanayashiki amusement park ferris wheel cherry blossom
Image credit:
@puffpiepudding

Take a trip back in time at Japan’s oldest amusement park, Asakusa Hanayashiki. 

The amusement park is densely packed with classic rides such as a merry-go-round, a mini ferris wheel, 3-D theatres, haunted houses, and a couple of kiddy rides. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, skip straight to Space Shot instead.

asakusa hanayashiki amusement park space shot
Image credit:
@puffpiepudding

Space Shot takes riders 60 metres above ground before plunging without any warning. If you dare, keep your eyes wide open to catch a glimpse of Tokyo Skytree and Sensoji Temple.

Another noteworthy ride is the roller coaster, Asakusa Hanayashiki’s oldest attraction. It’s been in operation for more than 60 years. While it doesn’t go that fast – 42km/hr, in fact – it offers a great view of Asakusa’s traditional Japanese homes from a vantage point.

Address: 2-28-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Opening hours: 10AM-6PM, Daily
Directions: 13-minute walk from Sumida Park


8. Hoppy Street – cheap izakayas serving signature beef stew


hoppy street cherry blossom
Image credit: @edwardkasilag

Head to Hoppy Street, because it’s a great place to experience Tokyo’s nightlife on a budget. 

The street is flanked by izakayas (Japanese taverns) that serve alcohol and cheap eats. When you’re there, don’t forget to try out Hoppy, a cheap beer-like beverage that gave Hoppy Street its name. Hoppy only has an alcohol content of 0.8% and it’s often mixed with shochu, a type of distilled alcohol made from rice, buckwheat, barley, or even sweet potatoes.

hoppy street nikomi dori
Image adapted from:
tabelog

Hoppy Street is also known as Nikomi Dori (Stew Street) because most izakaya here serve gyusuji nikomi (beef stew). Each bowl of nikomi is generously filled with beef gristle and plenty of green onions for an extra crunch.

For the most authentic Hoppy Street experience, pair your Hoppy – shochu cocktail with a bowl of beef stew.

Tip: Come on an empty stomach and try as many beef stews as you can since each izakaya offers a different rendition. The servings are usually small, so it’s light on the stomach. 

Address: 2 Chome-3-19 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Directions: 15-minute walk from Sumida Park


– Inokashira Park –


inokashira park cherry blossom
Image credit:
nakashi

Singletons who have reached their quota of PDA for the trip can seek refuge at Inokashira Park. According to legend, couples who ride a boat together here will break up soon after.

So if you’re travelling solo or with your platonic friends, Inokashira Park is a good spot to catch the cherry blossom. If not, you can always take your chances.

Address: 1 Chome-18-31 Gotenyama, Musashino, Tokyo 180-0005, Japan
Directions: 8-minute walk from JR Kichijōji Station


9. New York Joe Exchange – American-style vintage store


new york joe exchange cherry blossom
Image credit: @newyorkjoeexchange 

Brand-conscious millennials who are too broke for shopping sprees can try their luck at New York Joe Exchange. The second-hand store sports a large collection of American brands and even holds a storewide half-price sale on the first Sunday of each month. 

Each item costs roughly ¥1,500 (~USD13.53) to ¥3,000 (~USD27.06). Should Lady Luck be on your side, you can even snag branded items at a steal. 

new york joe exchange clothes
Image credit:
@newyorkjoeexchange 

What sets New York Joe Exchange apart from other second-hand shops in Tokyo is its unique trading system. Customers can resell their clothes after a quality assessment. Based on the retail price of the clothing, you will be paid 30% of that value.

new york joe exchange vintage apparel
Image credit:
@newyorkjoeexchange & @newyorkjoeexchange

You can also trade your clothing for the apparel in the shop – a trade-in entitles you to shop credits worth 60% of your item’s original retail price. New York Joe Exchange accepts clothes, shoes, accessories, caps and more, so long as the items are in good condition.

Address: 1 Chome-15-14 Kichijoji Minamicho, Musashino, Tokyo 180-0003, Japan
Opening hours: Mon – Fri, 12PM-9PM, Sat & Sun, 11AM-9PM
Directions: 2-minute walk from Inokashira Park


10. HATTIFNATT – handmade souvenirs and picture book cafe


hattifnatt cherry blossom
Image credit:
@japan___t

The entrance of HATTIFNATT is just 130 centimetres tall and adults will have to crouch and bend down in order to get in. That’s because HATTIFNATT is designed to resemble a children’s picture book with fairytale-like decor. How quaint!

hattifnatt souvenir
Image credit:
japanlive.com

Inside, you’ll find a souvenir shop and a cafe. The former is filled with about 200 boxes stacked on top of one another, and each box contains unique hand-made knick-knacks. Much like a treasure hunt, you’ll have to sift through every box to find what you want.

hattifnatt kichijo
Image credit:
@kumo930

HATTIFNATT also supports homegrown artists by giving them a platform to sell their handmade items. You’ll find accessories like earrings, necklaces, cards, water bottles, and home decor items.

hattifnatt cafe latte art
Image credit: @hattifnatt__koenji

After shopping, pop by the cafe for a cuppa. Do order the lattes as each cup is topped with a cute animal design that’s almost too adorable to drink.

Address: 2-18-10 Koenjikita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 166-0002, Japan
Opening hours: Tue – Sun, 11AM-7PM (Closed on Monday)
Directions: 10 minutes on foot from Kichijoji Station (JR Line, Keio Inokashira Line)
Website


11. Primi Baci – Tabelog-approved Italian restaurant


primi baci cherry blossom
Image credit:
Tabelog

Right next to Inokashira Park lies Primi Baci, an Italian restaurant headed by Takashi Ugajin. The executive chef honed his skills in Italy, so you know the food here will be just as good as the view. Look out the floor-to-ceiling windows to admire cherry blossoms while tucking into your food. 

primi baci lunch
Image credit:
Tabelog

Lunch courses start from ¥2,100 (~USD18.97) – it’s a tad pricey but for good reason. Primi Baci serves top-notch Italian cuisine and has earned an impressive rating of 3.59 on Tabelog, the largest food review website in Japan. Places with ratings above 3.5 are guaranteed to be great.

Address: 2nd Floor Inogashira Parkside Building,1-21-1 Kichijoji-Minamicho, Musashino-City, Tokyo, Japan
Opening hours: (Lunch) Mon – Fri, 11.30AM-2.30PM | Sat & Sun, 11.30AM-3PM (Dinner) 5PM-10PM, Daily
Directions: 5-minute walk from Inokashira Park


– Meguro River –


meguro river cherry blossom
Image credit:
Sora Sagano 

The best time to catch the cherry blossoms at Meguro River is from 6PM to 9PM, when the canal is illuminated. Street food vendors will line up by the sides – grab a snack so you can sightsee with a full stomach.

Address: 2-9 Shimo-meguro to 3-1 Higashiyama, Meguro Ward, Tokyo
Directions: 3-minute walk from Naka-Meguro Station on the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line


12. Tokyo Photographic Art Museum – over 33,000 permanent art exhibits


tokyo photographic art museum cherry blossom
Image credit:
@albertj320

After cherry blossom viewing, drop by the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum. Also known as TOP, the museum is internationally acclaimed for hosting both domestic and international art pieces from all over the globe.

tokyo photographic art museum exhibitsImage credit: @tokyo_iroiro

TOP has a permanent collection of 33,000 works and 3 mega exhibition halls featuring an extensive selection of Japanese artworks. Admission ticket prices vary depending on the exhibition so do check with reception on the first floor.

Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0062, Japan
Opening hours: Tue – Sun, 10AM-6PM (Closed on Monday)
Directions: 5-minute walk from Meguro River


13. Sushiryori Inose – omakase in a cosy sushi restaurant


Sushiryori Inose
Image credit: @lizrice

Omakase is a Japanese tradition where the chef chooses what’s on the menu. The chef prepares what they have bought from the market in the morning, so you’ll feast on the freshest ingredients.

Not knowing what’s on the menu can be a daunting experience, but the in-house chef at Sushiryori Inose is known for being exceptionally friendly to foreigners. Bring along at least ¥10,000 (USD90.39) in cash as they do not accept credit cards or e-payments.

Sushiryori Inose sashimi
Image credit:
@yano_k2

Tip: The restaurant accommodates only 10 diners at a time so we recommend making reservations ahead of time. You can always ask for help from your hotel’s reception or any Japanese-speaking personnel. 

Address: 2 Chome-20-2 Higashigotanda, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 141-0022, Japan
Opening hours: Mon – Sat, 6PM-11PM
Telephone: 03-3443-1719


Cherry blossom season itinerary


With these 13 locations just a short walk from Tokyo’s famous cherry blossom viewing spots, you can keep on having fun even after you’re done admiring all the sakura flowers.

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