I have noticed that many tourists who visit Tokyo for the first time in their lives fall in love with this bustling city. Often I hear people saying that “I wish if I could stay in Tokyo for the rest of my life.” I don’t reside there; in fact, city living does not suit me.
However, the city has always inspired and charmed me with its history and wonderful nature that I find in the public parks and gardens. Why to visit Tokyo in early spring? It’s a question I am often asked. Please note that Tokyo is famous for showcasing the country’s most attractive and beautiful traditional Japanese gardens.
You would be surprised to know that Tokyo is the leading destination to witness delicate plum blossoms (ume) in Japan. And visiting the gardens in the early spring means you are going to see beautiful exclusive plum blossoms display. I think words fail to convey the essence of ume beauty. The shape and color of this blossom is much more appealing than sakura (cherry blossom).
I am a huge plum blossom aficionado, therefore I don’t want you to miss this early spring outdoor activity, please, seriously take a look at the itinerary. Would you mind traveling around the Tokyo city for a day? I especially crafted it with various ume spots including other top attractions of Tokyo. Just enjoy reading it!
For your overnight stay, I recommend this hotel as it’s located close to Shinjuku Station.
1) Hanegi Park
You start your one-day in Tokyo trip right from Setagaya (one of the special wards in Tokyo). When you are in Tokyo, please wake up just in time to go sightseeing, don’t sleep for too long! Taking an early morning stroll is one of the best things to do in city.
You must start the day by exploring Hanegi Park. This is a place that you should consider yourself as a perfect holiday spot for viewing plum blossoms from early-February through mid-March. The park hosts Japan’s one of the most famous plum blossom festivals called Setagaya Ume Matsuri.
It’s absolutely bracing and inspiring visiting the park and participating in the matsuri in the morning. Take a leisurely stroll along the paths and discover the delicate beauty of ume. Please note that there you can find approximately 700 plum trees.
Enjoy the koto performance and outdoor matcha tea ceremonies. You can spend two hours here before leaving for a historic place in Shibuya. Head to Umegaoka station and hop on the train to Harajuku Station.
2) Meiji Shrine
Meiji shrine is just few steps away from Harajuku station. Next to this famous shrine, there is Yoyogi Park – A sakura paradise. I don’t recommend you to get there as it is not a renowned spot for plum blossom viewing.
The shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Its grounds consist of some remarkable buildings such as the Main Shrine Buildings, the Meiji Jingu Treasure House, and Inner Garden.
Exploring these sites will not take more than an hour, but you could extend the time limit. Make sure you have time for Takeshita Dori, walk along this shopping street and buy something you love.
Feeling real hungry? If so walk towards Omotesando (A lovely tree lined avenue) and find the restaurant called Kamakura Matsubara-an Keyaki, a popular soba restaurant in Shibuya, Harajuku area.
Here is the address of the restaurant: Quest Harajuku 4F, 1-13-14 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Order soba noodles including other delicious traditional Japanese dishes and then enjoy your lunch!
3) Koishikawa Korakuen
You are off to the Bunkyo ward now! If you are in this neighborhood in early spring, you have to visit two places: Koishikawa Korakuen, and Yushima Tenjin Shrine.
Not all the parks and gardens around Tokyo are suitable to visit throughout the year but Koishikawa Korakuen is different and does not belong to this belief.
Every time you visit this oldest scenic Japanese garden it would not just delight your soul and mind highlighting its impressive seasonal beauty but also urge you stay there for long.
Keeping this in your mind, I guess you would not mind heading towards this beautiful natural landmark. Although you should stay there not less than an hour, you can add extra 10 to 15 minutes!
The plum blossom season begins here in mid-February and can be enjoyed till mid-March. In my opinion, the garden itself is a very famous for being one of the most popular photogenic spots in Tokyo.
4) Yushima Tenjin Shrine
Take the train to Yushima Station. Then take a very short walk to the Shrine entrance, it requires only 2 to 3 minutes’ walk. There you would see an ongoing plum blossom festival known as Bunkyo Ume Matsuri.
The festival is held from early February to early March every year. No doubt, the shrine grounds offer a great festive atmosphere.
Many people visit the shrine and see colorful ume, especially at weekend. So in order to avoid the crowds, prefer visiting it on weekdays.
If you think that the atmosphere is little depressing around there, probably your mind has gone to Akihabara’s manga shops.
5) Kyu Shiba Rikyu
Now, it is the time to head to the Minato ward. You will be pretty much excited to know that you are going to see a beautiful classic Japanese landscape garden.
It is surrounded by tall buildings but charmed with many typical Japanese garden elements such as man-made hills, lanterns, bridges, pond, trees, strolling paths and etc. Guess what?! That’s Kyu Shiba Rikyu!
No matter who you are, early spring beauty there would definitely impress you very much, not just because of those plum trees but much more than that.
6) Tokyo Tower
For a quick move, you can take a taxi to get to Tokyo Tower from Kyu Shiba Rikyu. Alternatively I would suggest you to take a pleasant walk from Hamamatsucho Station to Tokyo Tower. The tower is about 333 meters tall and quite similar to the famous Eiffel Tower!
If you are looking for a place to experience Tokyo Night View from an observatory, then this is the perfect spot I could highly recommend. It is a pretty awesome place to observe Tokyo’s impressive night scenery. The first time I visited it, I felt fearful yet excited!
I want you to have your dinner Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai, located at the foot of Tokyo tower that has a stunning garden. You can walk around the garden before or after taking your dinner.
It could be quite expensive to have your dinner this time but worth to try. In fact, everything there is just peaceful! That’s it, and your day trip ends here.
This 1-day Tokyo itinerary allows you to get a taste of the city’s most notable plum blossom spots. If you even can’t devote a day for experiencing Tokyo’s breathtaking plum blossoms then you should be ashamed of yourself.
There are other ume spots that I have not included in this Itinerary such as Tokyo Imperial Palace, and Showa Memorial Park. You should visit these popular attractions if you could manage your time.
Please don’t you forget that this kind of special nature event comes once in a year, so ignoring it and keeping it aside out of your bucket list would be a foolish idea than nothing!