Kyoto may be famous for its sakura, but Tokyo also has plenty of parks, courtyards and even cemeteries (Aoyama, here’s looking at you), to view the powder-pink blooms. We round-up a few of the capital’s must-visits during cherry blossom season.
Hands-down the most romantic sakura spot is Kokyogaien National Gardens, next to the Imperial Palace. Hop on a boat for a scenic float across the moat Chidori-ga-Fuchi, as you turn your gaze to the beautiful buds above. Come nightfall, the boughs are magically illuminated with floodlights – camera-phone at the Insta-ready.
For a fabulous, front-row vantage of the blossoms at central Yoyogi Park, pull up a pew at sleek Ostü, whose windows overlook the bountiful flora. Considered one of Tokyo’s best Italian restaurants, the innovative, Piedmont-centric menu stars moreish plates like risotto with red onion compote and homemade pasta with ragu sauce. Diminutive and popular – especially during sakura season – ensure you book in advance.
Alternatively, do as Tokyoites do and picnic under the cherry trees. First stock up on gourmet goodies at Isetan Food Hall where you can take your pick from an abundance of sushi and bento boxes, farm-fresh salads and a mouth-watering range of cakes and pastries, then nip to nearby Shinjuku Gyoen for an under-arbour alfresco lunch.
For a truly decadent celebration, drop by The Peninsula which is hosting a special Sakura Afternoon Tea, underneath beautiful, three-metre high indoor hanami. Held in The Lobby from 1 March-15 April, the elegant spread of cherry-themed sweet and savoury delights is served with a choice of 20 teas and a glass of Deutz Sakura Rosé, but natch.
Isetan Food Hall / 3-14-1 / Shinjuku / +81 3 3352 1111 / 10.30-am-8pm daily / www.isetan.mistore.jp
Kokyogaien National Gardens / 1-1 Kitanomarukoen / Chiyoda / 102-0091 / open 24 hours daily / www.env.go.jp
Ostü / 1/F / Yoyogi Matsuura Bldg / 5-67-6 / Shibuya-ku / +81 3 5454 8700 / lunch Sat-Mon, dinner Thu-Tues, closed Wed / www.ostu.jp
Kameya Mannendo / 1-15-12 Jiyugaoka / Meguro-ku / +81 3 3717 0400 / 9.30am-7.30pm daily / www.navona.co.jp
The Peninsula Tokyo Lobby Bar / 1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku / +81 3 6270 2888 / 2.30pm-9pm daily / www.tokyo.peninsula.com