Tokyo After Dark: Discovering the Best Spots for Nighttime Sakura Viewing

by Nana Young

Yozakura Japanese spring scenery, Cherry Blossoms

The best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan is at night. Any spot can display sakura in their natural, sunlit beauty, but only truly unique locations can offer the nighttime sakura viewing experience you desire. In this post, we’ll explore Tokyo’s most enchanting yozakura spots to visit at night.

The Enchantment of Nighttime Sakura in Tokyo

Millions of people in Japan enjoy the springtime custom of Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing. However, nighttime Hanami, which is called Yozakura, takes cherry blossom viewing to a whole new level of awesome!


What is Yozakura?

Night scenery of illuminated cherry blossom tree in Japan.

Yozakura is the traditional Japanese practice of cherry blossom viewing at night. During the spring, family, friends, and couples in Japan gather at Yozakura spots to view blooming sakura trees and flowers illuminated by artificial lights. These lights cause the cherry blossoms to appear to glow, creating an ethereal atmosphere in the park or riverside.

Viewing cherry blossoms at night is nothing like doing it in daylight. Both Hanami and Yozakura are two distinct experiences that everyone should enjoy at least once in a lifetime. The Japanese have been practicing Yozakura since the Edo period of 1601–1868. Back then, nobles used to host autumn parties under the light of the full moon. The event was called a Tsukimi and involved a fine display of music and poetry. Yozakura became more popular after that, and paper lanterns were used to illuminate the trees and improve the viewing experience. Today, millions of people visit Japan from all over the world and flock to the urban regions for Yozakura.


How Does Yozakura Work in Japan?


Lanterns in Cherry Blossom Season

During the cherry blossom season (March to May), parks, gardens, and riversides illuminate their cherry or sakura trees at night. They do this using a variety of methods. Some hang lanterns on or next to the cherry tree branches; others use LED lights, most of which are solar-powered. The illumination typically begins at sundown (around 6 p.m) and lasts well into the night (around 10 p.m). Many of the cherry trees have been strategically planted next to ponds or by the riverside because the reflection of the glowing sakura adds a magical appeal to the entire display.

Why Yozakura Offers a Unique Cherry Blossom Experience

Night view of massive sakura trees with Tokyo tower as background.

Hanami is a great experience with family and friends. However, Yozakura offers something unmatched. You get to see Japanese cherry blossoms from an entirely new perspective. Viewing the bright lights bouncing off the sakura flowers and their environment will fill you with a romantic and peaceful feeling. The ethereal glow creates the experience of being transported to another planet.


Hanami vs Yozakura: Comparison of Day and Night Time Cherry Blossom Viewing


Night view of cherry blossoms and Minato Mirai

Many couples who want to spend quiet and romantic time with their partners prefer nighttime cherry blossom viewing to the daytime alternative. Apart from the aesthetics, the yozakura environment is usually serene. After all, it takes place at night, when most people are asleep in their homes. Yozakura also helps photographers take photos in a more controlled environment. Without people bumping into you or blocking the light, you’ll be surprised at the awesome images you can capture. Like with hanami, you can enjoy yozakura by taking long walks in gardens and riversides. You may also enjoy picnics with family and friends. In summary, yozakura offers a chance to escape the busy nature of modern life, reflect on human existence, and appreciate nature at its finest. We recommend that you give it a try if you ever visit Japan. The four best cities to view cherry blossoms at night in Japan are Tokyo, Aomori, Saga, and Tottori.


Navigating Tokyo's Best Yozakura Locations

Tokyo is considered the Yozakura capital of the world, and for good reasons. The city is home to dozens of sakura viewing spots, including parks, gardens, and riversides. Millions of people visit Tokyo every year just to experience the beauty on display at these locations. Join us as we explore the five best Yozakura locations in Tokyo.


1. Ueno Park: A Blend of Nature and Festivity


Gable roof of Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple with weeping cherry blossoms in the foreground during Ueno Sakura Matsuri in Ueno Park

Getting there: The easiest way to get to Ueno Park from Tokyo Metro is by taking the Ginza Line from Kyobashi. The train journey takes about 14 minutes. You can also take the JR Yamanote Line to Ueno Station. This station has a Ueno Park exit that’s within walking distance of your destination.

Ueno Park in Tokyo is one of Japan’s most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing, thanks to its vibrant atmosphere and street food stalls. With over ten million visitors a year, the park equally attracts both locals and tourists. During the day, Ueno Park is a fantastic place to be, and at night, it’s just as impressive, thanks to the illuminated cherry trees. Ueno Park has over 800 cherry trees. The park will begin lighting the trees at night from the middle of March to the early weeks of April. Ueno Park is almost always crowded, especially during cherry blossom season, but going at night will increase your chances of finding a good spot. Entry into Ueno Park is free, and the lights typically go out by 8 p.m even though the park is open until 11 p.m.


2. Chidorigafuchi: Sakura by the Moat

Chidorigafuchi Park during cherry blossom season

Getting there: It only takes 3 minutes to walk from Hanzomon Station to Chidorigafuchi Park and 8 minutes from Kojimachi Station.

Along the Hanzo moat of the Imperial Palace sits Chidorigafuchi Park. It has 260 cherry trees lined up along the moat. These trees are only illuminated during the Chiyoda Cherry Blossom Festival, beginning in late March and ending in early April. Feel free to rent a rowboat and enjoy the unique viewing experience of Sakura by the moat. There are also several food stalls at the park where they serve traditional Japanese food. Entry into the park is free and the lights go out by 10 p.m. You only have to pay for your boat ride. When you’re done with your yozakura, you can visit any of the nearby tourist attractions, such as the Imperial Palace, Kitanomaru Park, and Hanzomon Museum. The Yasukuni Shrine is also a great place to visit, but it closes by 6 p.m, which may be long before you finish your nighttime sakura viewing.


3. Sumida Park: Blossoms by the River


Cherry blossom and building at Asakusa Sumida Park

Getting there: From Asakusa Station, you can take a five-minute walk to Sumida Park.

Located in East Tokyo, Sumida Park is another fantastic spot for yozakura. It boasts an impressive 510 cherry trees, all of which will be illuminated with lanterns from late March to early April, when the park hosts its annual cherry blossom festival. These trees line the Sumida River and are complemented by the stunning backdrop of the Tokyo Skytree, which is especially breathtaking at night. You can take a ride down the Sumida River and enjoy the natural beauty of the trees. Using the yakatabune boat offers a traditional option, while the Tokyo Water Bus is the modern alternative.


4. Meguro River: A Romantic Canopy of Light


Cherry blossom rows along the Meguro River

Getting there: Take the train from Shibuya Station to either Meguro or Nakameguro stations. The train ride only takes five minutes but gets you within walking distance of the Meguro River.

There are 800+ sakura trees lining the Meguro River, one of Tokyo’s most popular hanami spots. These trees stretch up to nearly 4 kilometers along the riverside. They form a pink canopy over the narrow river, and when the illuminations start at night, the arch produces a magnificent sight that’s perfect for a romantic stroll or boat ride. During the Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival, a one-kilometer section of the sakura tree line, called the Nakameguro Canal, is lit up with traditional paper lanterns. The serenity of the environment makes for an unforgettable yozakura experience that’s perfect for couples. You can expect the festival to begin in mid-March and end in early April. The lights typically come on by 5 p.m and go off at 10 p.m. Entry into the Meguro River festival event is free!


5. Tokyo Midtown: Modern Sakura Illuminations


Romantic scenery of illuminated cherry blossom trees (Sakura Namiki) in Tokyo Midtown at night, with busy traffic trails on street and high rise buildings in evening twilight in Roppongi, Tokyo Japan

Getting there: From Shinjuku Station, take the Oedo Subway Line to Tokyo Midtown on a 10-minute trip. Alternatively, you could take the Hibiya Subway Line from Kasumigaseki Station (15 minutes).

Tokyo Midtown may have only 140 trees, but its innovative approach to yozakura has earned it a place on our list. The spot uses contemporary light installations to enhance the natural beauty of the cherry blossoms in the area. These lights change color regularly from the start to the end of the cherry blossom season in Japan. In the same period, the Midtown Blossom event takes place. It’s a celebration of spring that includes several fun and exciting activities. For instance, you can view cherry blossoms from the comfort of an outdoor lounge or while dining in a fancy restaurant. The event also includes a fantastic display of traditional art and music. 


Tips for Enjoying Yozakura in Tokyo

 Tourists at shopping street in Asakusa connect to Sensoji Temple with sakura trees in spring, Tokyo Japan

Below are practical tips for visitors planning to experience yozakura in Tokyo. 

  1. Bring the right items: Don’t expect to find everything you need at the park stores. You should bring all important items from home. Some yozakura essentials are disposable utensils, food with snacks, and blankets.

  2. Do some research: Cherry blossoms in Japan don't reach full bloom all at once. The trees in each region start the blooming process at different times. Imagine traveling down to a park only to discover that their late-blooming cherry trees have barely any flowers. Check out publications like the Cherry Blossom Front for reliable peak bloom predictions.

  3. See different varieties: There are over 200 different kinds of sakura trees. Many hanami spots offer a wide variety, while others stick to one type, usually the Somei Yoshino. Never assume all of the trees look the same, but explore as many different species as you can. Some of them, such as the Prunus serrulata (weeping cherry trees), will stun you with their unique beauty.

  4. Prepare for the cold: Nighttime sakura can be a chilly experience, which is why we recommend that you bring a jacket and blanket to the venue.

  5. Avoid peak periods: Although one of the many perks of cherry blossom at night is that the crowds are usually smaller, hotspots like Ueno Park still receive a lot of nocturnal visitors. Consider going for yozakura on a weekday, as there might be less of a crowd compared to the weekend when people have enough free time.

  6. Don’t take photographs with flash: Switch off your flash before photographing cherry blossoms at night to avoid taking an unbalanced photo. They are already lit up.

  7. Learn yozakura etiquette: Before you go to view sakura at night, be sure to read through our simple guide on yozakura etiquette.


Yozakura Etiquette: Respecting the Blooms and Fellow Viewers

 Japan Tokyo city Nakameguro sakura festival famous destination. Young adult asian woman eating strawberry sparkling wine. Japanese people lifestyles at night street sightseeing.

Let’s discuss some important etiquette for yozakura. 

  1. Follow all the evening rules and regulations for the venue. Remember to check their website or brochure before visiting.

  2. Respect the cherry blossom trees. Do not touch them or hang anything on their branches.

  3. Avoid damaging the roots of the trees. At night, you might not notice your chair on the tree roots. Avoid this by not sitting directly under the tree.

  4. Keep the viewing area clean at all times. Do not litter, and always clean up after yourself. You can carry a garbage bag with you.

  5. Most venues have limited space. Hence, you should always consider other viewers and avoid encroaching on their space. Also, don’t take up more room than you need.

  6. Don’t make too much noise. Serenity is part of the appeal of yozakura, and being noisy will ruin the experience for other viewers.

  7. Respect all queues. Whether it’s at the entrance or the public toilet, be sure to queue responsibly.


Extending the Night: Late-Night Sakura-Themed Activities in Tokyo


Tourists stroll in a temporary market and stop by traditional Japanese snack stalls (Yatai) under Sakura Trees that are lighted up at night during Sakura Matsuri Festival in Ogaki, Gifu, Japan

Yozakura is only a part of the magic of nighttime sakura. You can extend the experience by doing other activities that embody the spirit of the Japan cherry blossom season. Many restaurants and shops at hanami spots offer sakura-themed items. These items include sakura-themed sweets, snacks, souvenirs, buffets, and bento boxes. Some of these restaurants allow you to dine in lounges with fabulous views of lantern-lit sakura. Several hotels, like Peninsula Tokyo, offer an all-round hanami experience during the sakura season. For a limited time, their products, decorations, food, and drinks all revolve around sakura.

You can also attend any of the sakura-themed shows around your location. One of them is the sakura light exhibition show at Tokyo Skytree, which is next to Sumida Park. If you’re uncertain about what to do, you can go to any of the dozens of ongoing cherry blossom festivals around these hanami spots. We’re sure you’ll find lots of fun activities to engage you. When you’re done in Tokyo, feel free to explore the rest of Japan by attending other events, such as the Hirosaki cherry blossom festival and the Kawazu cherry blossom festival, to experience yozakura from a different perspective.

Tokyo's Nighttime Sakura - A Must-See Spring Phenomenon

Cherry blossom in full bloom

Viewing cherry blossoms at night in Tokyo is a magical experience that will remain in your memory forever. It becomes even more impactful when you share that experience with loved ones. Both hanami and yozakura tell the same story but in distinct ways: beauty is fleeting and should be savored in the moment. This is a unique aspect of Japanese culture that everyone should embrace.

If you would like to bring the love and traditions of sakura to your home, we’ve got you covered. For the best snacks, tea, and treats from Japan, including sakura-flavored ones, trust Bokksu Snack Box to deliver them to your doorstep every month. For authentic Japanese specialty items and gifts, Bokksu Boutique is the best place to shop online.

Celebrate the upcoming cherry blossom season with the rest of Japan, no matter where you are in the world!

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