Tokyo's most popular Cherry blossom spot31 March, 2012 by Chad
It looks like this year’s cherry blossoms are scheduled to start blooming today, with a full bloom anticipated by the 7th of April. The You can check out the yearly forecast by Japan National Tourism Organization provides a pretty accurate forecast of each year. Now is as good a time to look back at some previously unpublished photographs of Ueno Park in Spring.
As the largest park in Tokyo, Ueno Park is home to approximately 1,000 Sakura trees. This, coupled with the fact that entry is free makes it Tokyo’s most popular Hanami spot. Interestingly, the cherry blossoms at Ueno Park also consistently bloom earlier than most other places in Tokyo, though the ones at Koishikawa Korakuen still seem to blossom sooner.
The main path that passes through the park is lined with Sakura trees on both sides. Unfortunately, Hanami dates have been moving progressively later each year, such that even on the last days of March, the Sakura here had yet to fully bloom. Still, we had our lack of research to blame as this was considered an early year as far as the blossoms were concerned. If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo these days for Hanami, a good time to come would only be the 2nd week of April.
Yet, both this and the rains typical of this time of the year did not deter the many who had come to Ueno Park for a visit. In fact, the park is large enough and contains enough notable landmarks to be worthy of a visit any time of the year. There is the Ueno Zoo and a good number of museums.
For those with tight wallets, the flora as well as the parks many temples and shrines (which are free for entry) still make for a nice morning trip. In keeping with the Spring theme, this article mostly focuses on just the Cherry Blossoms though.
Admittedly, we had mistaken plum trees for cherry blossoms the first time we saw them in Koganei Park. This was to the amusement of one of the other visitors there, who pointed out to us that those were indeed plum trees.
The plum trees tend to have a richer hue than cherry blossoms in general, but even then it is still confusing to immediately tell the difference between the two, as there are also pale plum trees and more richly colored sakura trees. It doesn’t help that almost all the parks and gardens in Japan plant a combination of the two.
The most reliable way to tell the difference between the two is actually to look at how the flowers grow. Plum blossoms tend to grow out of stalks directly from branches and are spread out individually. Cherry blossoms on the other hand grow out from stalks further segregated by sub-branches, which the flowers are clumped together on.
That and the fact that plums blossom from late February to March (the Plum Festival is held from February 20 to March 31). While Sakura blossom only at the end of March or start of April. A observation of the state at which the tree is in (budding, blossoming or wilting) at any time period should also give you an idea of what tree it is.
Like at every event, festival food stands had been set up outside of all the temples and shrines at this time. The Hanami season is an especially suitable time to enjoy the festival offerings, since most would be simply here to enjoy the atmosphere at a leisurely pace. The most number of stalls are saturated on the bridge to Bentendo Temple.
At the extreme North West of the park, you’ll find Bentendo temple within a ring of 3 ponds. There are more Japanese cherry trees around the circumference of the ponds here. And despite being surrounded by the city streets, a quiet corner, safe from the crowds seen in the rest of the park. Personally, this is one of the nicest parts of Ueno Park that is not to be missed.
Check out the rest of the photos by Wilson below.
Photos by Wilson.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.