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Sakura, Sakura, Sakura…
Tokyo is a incredible city. There are so many things to see and do that at some point, if you don’t have an itinerary, it becomes overwhelming. But if you came during sakura blossom season which usually starts from March 28th to April 10th you are in luck. Why? Because it seems that the whole world pauses and goes for a walk under the trees.
I think this is the only time when event the busiest of people, Japanese, put their schedules on hold and are excused if they come in for work by one minute late. 🙂
If you haven’t read my post on helpful tips how to get around, where to stay, and what to see in Tokyo head here first.
This time is not only special because of the blossoms but because of the locals as well. Hanami, which literally means viewing of sakura, is a very popular form of launching under the trees. We call it picnic, they call it an organized viewing and socializing. Everyone has their blue tent out in a reserved spot and indulges in some bento boxes.
Ever since I can remember I wanted to see the famous blossoms it for myself. And my dream came true: sitting under a blossoming sakura tree eating Japanese sushi during my mom’s visit. It was glorious. However, mistakes were made and as always lessons were learned. Read my tips below.
Are you going to Kyoto for sakura viewing? Read my tips on Kyoto in this post!
Sidenote: By the way, whoever said that Tokyo was a concrete jungle doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. Everywhere you go there is a tiny garden somewhere. And if you get to the big ones, be prepared to spend the whole day there.
My favorite sakura spot
Shinjuku park is number one on sakura viewing maps for a reason. It is huge, the trees are blossoming all at once and there is plenty of space for everyone. It is not free to enter and alcohol is not permitted on the premises. So plan accordingly. Avoid weekends like a plague!
What to take, bring, and prepare for.
It is so beautiful you want to cry sometimes. So bring your adult camera. Taking pictures with Ipad or a shitty cellphone camera will get you only this far.
Dress accordingly. Tokyo can be cold and rainy one day and hot and sunny the other. Layers, layers and some more layers. If you need to emergency shop for whatever you think you need head to Uniqlo. I love that store for having basic, good quality garments at affordable prices.
What to pack:
Light down jacket with a hood. It can be both rainy and cold at the same time. Save yourself from some misery by packing a windbreaker like this one.
Full proof boots that are not only stylish but comfortable and waterproof.
Gloves, hat, and giant scarf that can be used for hanami.
Makeup because you are going to taking lots and LOTS of pictures. DO NOT spray yourself with perfume. There is a reason why SEPHORA went bankrupt in Japan. Locals consider it rude and invasive. There is nothing like a smell of fresh body, a.k.a no smell at all.
Sunglasses and the IT purse that looks good and fits almost all of the above. Because when it does get hot it is hot. And you will want to take everything off and put it somewhere.
Side note: In the sea of black and beige I would really recommend to stand out in red. Ever since I happened to come to Japan I have been craving some red. Yours doesn’t have to be but it is sure a nice one!
Did you know that Uniqlo has a flagship store in Tokyo which is 12 storeys high? Yeah….Been there and shopped THAT.
Buy yourself an umbrella from the local 7-11. It will come in handy also when you walk as most of them are made from the clear plastic. Despite the price they turned out to be very durable.
Eat some bento! You can pick up a bento box at any convenience store like Lawson, Family Mart, or 7-11. Not to be confused with North American convenience store. They are super affordable and full of healthier goodness.
If you want fancy bento to put on Instagram for your friends and family to go “WOW” then shop one at any mall. All food related items are located at the bottom or lowest floor of any mall. The choice is endless and the prices are worth it.
Do not leave the best for last. It rains and sometimes it rains more. Cherry blossoms are delicate flowers. Once we decided to wait out one day only to realise that most of the flowers were crushed the day before by a heavy rain. So get to the viewing spots first thing. And don’t waste time on anything else you could be doing once the season is over.
Don’t wait till the last minute. Reserve hotels, rooms, and hostels in advance. I love Sakura house hostels and apartments for being affordable and free activities that they offer to their tenants and guests.
Research, research, research. While Tokyo is a very beautiful city during any season really you want to focus on key parts during this particular time. Tokyo is huge and if you try to cover as much as you can, rushing through it all, you will not enjoy yourself and will be burned out.
Do not wear cropped or short, especially leather, jacket (picture above with my mom). They are impractical and get ruined easily in wet weather.
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