Today I visited Tokyo to check on the state of the cherry blossoms eight days after full bloom had officially been announced in the city. Strong rain showers caused some damage to the cherry blossoms yesterday evening, taking many petals down to the ground.

While the peak of the season has now peaked, enough blossoms are still hanging on to the trees to make for continued pleasant sights. And with no extreme weather in the forecasts, I expect that hanami-goers should be able to find flowers and enchanting petal blizzards for a few more days to come.

Ueno Park

Petals Starting To Fall

A considerable number of petals have started to fall at Ueno Park, but the park remains worth a visit. Picnics are not allowed along the central road this year, but can be enjoyed in several other areas of the park.

Inui-dori Street

Petals Starting To Fall

Inui-dori is a street that leads through the inner grounds of Tokyo Imperial Palace and is closed to the public for most of the year. Only during the cherry blossom and autumn color seasons, the street gets opened to the public. This spring, it is open from March 25 to April 2 between 9:00 and 16:00 (entry until 15:30).

A visit is surrounded by a huge presence of the police, security personnel and other staff that ensures that the crowds remain well controlled. One-way traffic is maintained, and visitors enter through the Sakashita Gate near the Nijubashi Bridge - after undergoing body temperature, baggage and body checks - and exit through the Inui Gate, which is not too far from Chidorigafuchi, another popular cherry blossom spot.

The street is lined by a nice variety of trees, including cherry trees of a number of varieties. In addition, it offers views and perspectives of the imperial palace that are not usually accessible to the public. The predominant Somei Yoshino variety of cherry trees has started to shed its petals, but remained looking fine, while trees of several other cherry varieties were at different stages of their blooming periods.


Petals Starting To Fall

Petals have also started to fall along the pleasant walking trail that leads along Chidorigafuchi, one of the moats of the former Edo Castle, but the sight of the trees was still spectacular and should remain enjoyable for a few more days, although I do expect that a majority of petals will have dropped by April 4, when the daily evening illuminations end.

Shinjuku Gyoen

Petals Starting To Fall

Shinjuku Gyoen was an absolute spring wonderland today. The atmosphere was extremely pleasant with hanami picnics held across the park's wide and varied grounds.

The elsewhere predominant Somei Yoshino trees have started to shed petals here too, but looked still nice. Furthermore, this park is known for its numerous other cherry tree varieties, many of which are now only coming into bloom and will provide pleasant hanami conditions for a couple more weeks.

Among them are the numerous Ichiyo trees with their large, white blossoms of 5-10 petals and fresh green leaves that appear a few days after the blossoms. The Ichiyo are currently approaching full bloom and from a distance are not easily distinguished from the Somei Yoshino. Just starting to open are the many Kanzan trees with their dark, pink blossoms of several dozen petals, and the Fugenzo trees whose blossoms resemble the Ichiyo's. The blooming season of the Kanzan and Fugenzo is likely to last through the week of April 10.

Note that to avoid overcrowding, advance reservations are required to visit Shinjuku Gyoen on March 31, April 1-2 and April 8-9. No advance reservations are needed on other days. Note also that there are entrance gates that directly accept IC cards, such as Suica and Pasmo (like ticket gates at railway stations, except that you don't have to scan it again when leaving the park). Waiting times at ticket machines and counters can be considerable during busy times (especially at the Shinjuku Entrance) and an IC card can reduce waiting times.