Tokyo blushes pink in late March to early April, when sakura fever takes over town. Viewing the pretty petals is a spring rite of passage – “hanami” – devoted to celebrating this precious transitory season.
Our favourite spots for checking out these sensational and culturally significant blossoms include a sakura-strewn stroll through Aoyama Cemetery, followed by a picnic in popular park Shinjuku Gyoen, near Shinjuku Station, home to over a thousand trees in a dozen different varieties.
For more rosy action, make for Chidori-ga-fuchi moat, encircling the Imperial Palace. By day rent a boat and row around, ogling the blooms which cast dreamy reflections, or visit at evening when hundreds of cherry trees are illuminated at night.
The cherry blossom is Japan’s national flower, so watching it bloom brings people together. Dress warmly, pack a blanket and picnic, and join in with the locals. Friends, family and colleagues gather to sip tea, quaff alcohol, eat, relax and party, so mix and mingle.
At The Peninsula, you can take Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea in the Lobby (until 2 Apr) or order Cherry Blossom Cocktails at Peter: The Bar (until 4 Apr). You can even savour Sakura Delights at the Boutique and Café (Mar-Apr), which includes a hanami picnic set, with cold cuts, sandwiches, desserts and rosé. Department stores also offer sakura bento boxes and cakes. Bloomin’ marvellous!
Aoyama Cemetery / 2-33-2 Minami-Aoyama / Minato-ku / daily
Shinjuku Gyoen / 11 Naito Machi / Shinjuku-ku / daily
Chidori-ga-Fuchi / Kudan Minami / Chiyoda-ku / daily