Cherry blossoms are already blooming, bringing spring early to Tokyo! But what if you’re too busy at work, and want to avoid the crowds? It’s time for nighttime sakura!Cherry blossoms are all abloom in Tokyo, and sakura season never lasts long! Even with the many cherry blossom varieties in Japan blooming at different times each year and extending the period, the cherry blossoms only look their best for a matter of weeks at the longest. So, for all of us stuck in office buildings and classrooms during the sunny afternoon hours of spring, longing to strike out and enjoy a little hanami, what are we to do?
Well, the answer might be to just enjoy the cherry blossoms after work!
Popular cherry blossom viewing spots are bound to be crowded on the weekends, which is especially unappealing during this time of social distancing. And it just so happens that viewing the flowers at night is its own tradition in Japan, when the sakura turn into “yozakura” (夜桜, nighttime cherry blossoms). So when you’re ready to clock out this spring, make a detour on your way home, and check out some cherry blossoms!
Right next to Asakusa and with gorgeous views of Tokyo Skytree, Sumida Park runs along both sides of the Sumida River, and the park’s riverside paths are a popular spot for casual cherry blossom viewing from morning to night. These trees don’t need any special festival lighting, as the streetlights cast a soft glow on the small pink flowers every night and Skytree shines like a beacon in the background.
Sumida Park (隅田公園)
7-1 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo
Conveniently located just east of Tokyo Station, the Nihonbashi area is where you’ll find the cherry-blossom-lined streets of Yaesu-dori and Edo Sakura-dori, which runs past historic Japanese department stores (making a great backdrop for the flowers). At night, the trees are lit from below, adding a little magic to the Tokyo Station area.
Edo Sakura-dori (江戸桜通り)
Nihonbashi, Chuo City, Tokyo
Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit
Roppongi is known for its unique mix of everyday business, museums, and nightlife, but during late March and early April, it’s known for cherry blossoms. Sakura-zaka, literally “Sakura Hill,” is a particularly popular spot within the large complex of Roppongi Hills, but nearby Roppongi Midtown also holds a yearly sakura festival, and the Ark Hills office development is also home to some beautiful blooms.
Roppongi Sakura-zaka (六本木さくら坂)
6-12 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo
Ark Hills (アークヒルズ)
1-12-32 Akasaka, Minato City, Tokyo
Over 120 cherry blossom trees line the road along Harima-zaka in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, the site of a popular yearly sakura festival. While the 2021 festival is canceled over safety concerns, the trees will still be brightly lit in the evenings, with lanterns glowing to guide visitors along the pathway.
Harima-zaka Sakura Namiki (播磨坂さくら並木)
Koishikawa, Bunkyo City, Tokyo
Our first stop, Sumida Park, was a place to admire both cherry blossoms and Tokyo Skytree, and our last stop is Shiba Park, where you can see the sakura and Tokyo Tower lighting up the night together. While the park doesn’t put up any special light displays, the red glow of Tokyo Tower and the nearby street lamps provide all the light needed to enjoy the flowers after sundown!
Shiba Park (芝公園)
4-10-17 Shibakoen, Minato City, Tokyo
Not only does nighttime cherry blossom viewing mean smaller crowds and less pandemic risk, but it also gives the experience an extra hint of romance you’ll only find after sunset, so which of these five sakura spots will you be visiting after work this year?