Get the best cherry blossom pix in Tokyo: Where, when & how

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Whether you’re an Instagrammer with a mega-following or just want to capture some of the pink magic to show your besties back home, snapping some envy-inducing photos is on every cherry blossom to-do list. But getting those perfect shots isn’t easy, especially if it’s your first time in Tokyo, so here’s how & where to snag the best of the best!

Special Tokyo tips & tricks for getting the best pix

Crowds are the bane of all cherry blossom photographers. Here are some Tokyo-specific tricks for getting’s how to get pictures of pink, not people…

Trick #1

Go early in the morning. Be there at first light (or when the gates open).

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Trick #2

Be patient. If you wait, focused and ready to shoot, you can take advantage of that brief moment after the pesky couple and before the chattering aunties

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Yoyogi Park

Trick #3

Find secret spots nobody else knows about (don’t tell, but here are my favorites!)

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho

Trick #4

Take shots at night in the places that offer evening hours and spotlit trees. There will still be crowds, but they’ll be black silhouettes, not spoilers in orange jackets

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Nakameguro

Trick #5

Also, wind can erase those killer reflections, so go early in the morning (before 9:00 if possible)

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Trick #6

Don’t let the rain stop you. It keeps away the crowds, and droplets dangling from twigs and petals make stunning shots

Tokyo cherry blossoms in the rain

Next, here’s WHEN to see the four types of cherry blossoms:

Look up the cherry blossom forecast for when you’ll be in Tokyo (or elsewhere in Japan). The dates sitting next to the place names on the map are the predicted dates of peak bloom for sakura, the most traditional kind of cherry blossoms (pale pink, single petal).

You can snag fabulous photos of the flowers just opening from about three days before those dates, and catch them falling like snow for three to five days after.

And the famous type known as sakura aren’t the only cherry blossoms in town! There are three other varieties, blooming from two weeks before the dates on the map, to two weeks after. Here are the peak bloom times for all the types:

sakura (traditional, single petal, pale pink): Dates on map forecast
kan-zakura (early-blooming, single petal, vibrant pink): Two weeks before
shidai-zakura (early-blooming, weeping branches): 3-5 days before
yae-zakura (double petal, clustered, many shades of pink): A week to ten days after
 

Finally, here’s WHERE to get those turn-’em-green-with-envy pix!

Shinjuku Gyō-en National Garden

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo
Scroll on for the photos you can take at each numbered spot!

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 
This was taken first thing in the morning, from the foot of the big pond

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 2
Cherry type: sakura. 
This was taken on the vast lawn that extends from near the main entrance through the park

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 3
Cherry types: sakura and yae-zakura 
You can see the late-blooming double type in full bloom here, and fallen petals of the traditional type that came from the tree that’s finished blooming behind it

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 4
Cherry type: yae-zakura 

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 5
Cherry type: shidai-zakura

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 6
Cherry type: kan-zakura (unusual pale pink variety)

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 7
Cherry type: yae-zakura

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Area 8
Cherry type: kan-zakura and…

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Cherry type: yae-zakura

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Shinjuku Gyoen

Imperial Palace & Chidori-ga-fuchi Moat

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace area in Tokyo

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 
This was taken walking along the pedestrian boulevard atop the outer bank of the moat

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

This is what it looks like at night

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Taken from the bridge near Kudanshita Station

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Cherry type: sakura, shidai-zakura and yae-zakura
This was taken walking along the pedestrian boulevard along the top of the moat near Hanzomon Station

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Cherry type: sakura. 
This was taken at the farthest end of the moat, after the petals begin to fall and turn it into a sea of pink

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Area 2
Cherry type: cherry type: sakura and shidai-zakura
All along the outside of the moat they’ve planted rare varieties of cherry trees which bloom at various times during the season

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Area 3
Cherry type: yae-zakura
This was taken on the walkway around the moat near Takebashi Station

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo

Area 4
Cherry type: yae-zakura
This was taken in the upper part of the Imperial Palace East Garden. Those things that look like hedges are tea plants

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace garden in Tokyo

Area 5
Cherry type: sakura. 
This was taken in the Ni-no-maru garden, inside the Otemon Gate to the Imperial Palace

Cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace garden in Tokyo

Nakameguro

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Nakameguro area in Tokyo

Cherry type: sakura. 

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Nakameguro

And this is what it looks like at night

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Nakameguro

Asakusa

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Asakusa area in Tokyo

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 
The trees lining the Sumida River are one of the most iconic cherry blossom views in Tokyo, and you can get even better photos if you stand in line for the waterbus and take them from the water

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asakusa

Area 2
Cherry type: sakura. 
This riverside park is filled with lovely trees, and never crowded, even though it’s right next to the busy Sumida River cherry blossom viewing promenade

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asakusa

You can take an excellent picture of Skytree with cherry blossoms from this park too

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asakusa

Area 3
Cherry type: sakura. 
This delightful little promenade is a secret neighborhood spot that’s never crowded and has nice benches for eating your lunch

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asakusa

Area 4
Cherry type: sakura and shidai-zakura
The secret garden of Denpo-in at the huge Senso-ji temple is closed to the public all year except during cherry blossom season. Go early to catch the trees reflected in the pond, before the breeze kicks up

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asakusa

Monzen-Nakacho

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho area in Tokyo

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho

Area 2
Cherry type: sakura. 
This was taken from the traffic bridge that crosses the canal

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho

The same spot, at night. The lanterns are usually lit from 18:00 – 21:00

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho

This is the pedestrian path that follows the canal from the traffic bridge, on the right-hand side of the water. This is an especially excellent place, because it’s nearly always this uncrowded, and it’s an especially nice place to stroll at night, when the lanterns are lit

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho

Area 3
Cherry type: yae-zakura
These especially gorgeous double blossoms line the walk to one of the sub-shrines at the venerable Tomioka Shrine.

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Monzen-Nakacho

Asukayama Park

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Asukayama park in Tokyo

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 
As you can see, they’re even beautiful in the rain, and it’s deserted! This plaza is the most pleasingly designed park in all of Tokyo, with natural rock fountains and a meandering waterfall stream that kids can play in during the summer months

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asukayama park

Area 2
Cherry type: yae-zakura
There are an unsual number of different varieties of late-blooming cherry trees here, in the full array of pinks, whites, and even…green

Tokyo cherry blossoms at Asukayama park

Area 3
Cherry type: sakura. 
This jewel of a gorge is a secret gem, hidden from view unless you know where to look. You can go down to the stream level and enjoy the artfully “natural” rockscaping, which runs for several blocks

Tokyo cherry blossoms near Asukayama park

Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen park in Tokyo

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 
Looking across the big central lawn, THIS. The trees at this park are especially huge and magnificent.

Cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen Park

You can get a feel for how huge these trees are, and there are a lot of them, making for many fine compositions

Cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen Park

Area 2
Cherry type: sakura. 
Fields of daffodils are also in full bloom as the trees are turning pink

Cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen Park

The tulips are just starting to bloom along the “Serpentine River” as the cherries hit their peak

Cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen Park

Area 3
Cherry type: shidai-zakura

Cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen Park

Area 4
Cherry type: kan-zakura and sakura

Cherry blossoms at Showa Kinen Park

Shingashi River, Kawagoe

Map of where to see cherry blossoms at Shingashi River, Kawagoe

Area 1
Cherry type: sakura. 
It’s worth traveling to Kawagoe’s Shingashi River for two special reasons: The boat rides down the river under the cherry blossoms, and catching a glimpse of the entire river covered in fallen pink blossoms near the end of the season. Board the boat at the end near the Dokan Bridge

Cherry blossoms at Shingashi River in Kawagoe

Area 2
Cherry type: sakura. 
This shot was taken from the pedestrian bridge that crosses the river on the end nearest the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine

Cherry blossoms at Shingashi River in Kawagoe

This is how it looks at night

Cherry blossoms at Shingashi River in Kawagoe

And from that same bridge, turn around and see these trees reflecting in the rive on the other side:

Cherry blossoms at Shingashi River in Kawagoe

Jindai Botanical Garden, Chofu

Map of where to see cherry blossoms in Chofu

Area 1
Cherry type: shidai-zakura and sakura

Cherry blossoms at Jindai Botanical Garden

Area 2
Cherry type: sakura
One place where it helps to have people in the shot for scale—look how huge these are!

Cherry blossoms at Jindai Botanical Garden

Area 3
Cherry type: sakura

Cherry blossoms at Jindai Botanical Garden

Bonus cherry spot: If you walk to the Jindai Botanical Garden from Chofu Station, you’ll cross a river lined with these awesome sakura cherry trees, a great place to picnic!

Cherry blossoms at Jindai Botanical Garden

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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