Wednesday 6 April 2016

It's that time of year again, Hanami - Cherry blossoms in Yanaka

I can't believe it's been a year already since my last cherry blossom post!  That time has flown!  Yes, it is that time of year again!  The time of year when Japan changes to all shades of pink and white beginning in Okinawa in January and finishing up in Hokkaido in early May.  The time of year when people dust off their blue tarpaulins and set them up under the cherry blossom trees and eat and drink their merry hearts away.  It is spring time, a time of new life and new beginnings in Japan.  It is also a bloody beautiful time to be in Japan!

A couple of weeks ago I started to think about where I would go to enjoy cherry blossoms.  A couple of years ago, someone recommended Yanaka cemetery (I have done a couple of posts about Yanaka previously which can be found here and here).  They said it was the perfect place.  Peaceful and quiet and not crowded at all.  I mean, it's a cemetery so it is spared the drunken frivolity that other places like Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park must endure.  So, Yanaka cemetery it was!

Coming out of the North exit of Nippori station, Yanaka cemetery is less than a one minute walk away (you can also access it from the south exit).  Up a few steps and I was immediately immersed in clouds of white!

Unfortunately it was a cloudy day, so I couldn't get the brilliant contrast that the pinky white of the cherry blossoms provide against a sky blue backdrop.  But it was still pretty good!  I won't do a whole lot of talking now, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Absolutely stunning!

It's just like winter time all over again!

If you arrive earlier than I did (4pm) make sure you drop in to have a look at Tennoji Temple.  The gardens are superb!  Unfortunately it was closed when I was there.......  However, by following the first link at the top of the page for the previous posts on Yanaka, you can see it in all it's glory!

Oh well, back to the flowers!

It was now half time in my own little cherry blossom party so I wandered over to nearby Yanaka Ginza shopping street.

I stopped at this shop to get some menchi katsu (crumbed and deep fried hamburger pattie) and some yakitori.

Unfortunately you only get a side on view of the shop because they have signs up all saying "No Photographs"  I guess they must be pretty famous......  It was about 1/3 of the way along the street on the left (the menchi katsu was pretty good too).

A little further down towards the end of the street, on the right is a liquor strore where you can buy plastic cups of beer or sake and sit down outside on some plastic crates and watch the world go by.

It was a wonderfully relaxing hour of dogs, kids, beer and menchi katsu.  The one thing I noticed was that as people walked past, they would stop and talk to the shop owners, the other customers sitting down enjoying a drink and the dogs too.  It was a really delightful time and I felt privileged to be able to witness a wonderful close community moment in the middle of what is one of the largest cities in the world.

Night was falling, however, and that meant it was time to head back to the cemetery.  Yes, that's right..........head back into the cemetery after nightfall.  No ghostly ninja or samurai was going to keep me away from getting a night view of the cherry blossoms in the park, so back in I went.......

And then I stumbled across this.......

"Wow, is it really that time already?  It is surely dinner time......." I thought as I beat a hasty retreat back out of the cemetery keeping 2 watchful eyes wide open!!

Well, that's it for another post.  I truly recommend, that if you live in Tokyo, or happen to be visiting Tokyo during cherry blossom season, you pay a visit to Yanaka cemetery and nearby Yanaka Ginza.  It is well worth a visit.  And if you can get there in the next couple of days, you can catch the cherry blossoms while they are still around this year.  I'm already looking forward to next year!  Where should I go next........

Thank you all for reading.  Noel, I really hope you enjoyed this one!  Please leave a message below, I enjoy hearing from people who read.  Until next time, see ya!


  1. Hello Jason,I certainly enjoyed revisiting this peaceful part of was good to see your photos and to see those beautiful sakura.The buroshita,I remember...seeing them being spread out during the day by the women...getting in early,in readiness for the evening celebrations under the lights that light up the paths.trees etc.The Japanese Bladder must be fully stretched on such occasions, but I don't recall seeing many toilets around.I think Spring must be the best time to be in Nihon!No doubt you will find plenty of new places to experience hanami as the years unfold...I remember too being in Ueno towards evening time in Spring...there must be so many places in around Tokyo where cherry trees have been planted to cater for the masses of people that like to participate in enjoying a night of frolicking, whilst the blossoms are on display.Thanks for the memories...dewa mata..Noel.(the Autumn leaves are now looking good in the Stirling/Aldgate area...dare I say it...the Dons may win a few more matches than expected this year.)

    1. Hi Noel,
      some of the busier places get in port-a-loos for just for the season, but I know that whatever is supplied just isn't sufficient enough to cater for the crowds of people that come! I'm sure I will continue to find new and beautiful places each year and you are right, there are pockets of cherry blossoms located all over the city, and, I am sure, the country.
      I was very happy to see that the Dons beat Melbourne. It does look like the doom and gloom might not be as serious as everyone anticipated (touch wood!)
      Take care, and enjoy those Autumn leaves!