Cherry Blossoms in Sumida Park – Enjoy Hanami From the Boat in Tokyo



Cherry blossoms in Sumida park are exceptional. I used to live in Sumida in my childhood. The location my house stood, though there has been a parking lot since many years ago, is in the Hon-jo area. From there, a several minute ride by bicycle took me to the Nari-hira area, where Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s most conspicuous landmark building, now stands high like a gigantic “Tower of Babel”.

According to local folklore, the name Nari-hira comes after Ariwara-no-Narihira (825-880). He is one of the six Japanese poetic geniuses – “六歌仙 (rokka-sen)” in the Heian period (794-1185).  One of his waka, 31 syllable poems, says, “Were it not for Sakura in this world, I could keep my heart calmer and serener in spring.”  I’m not sure if this poem was about the admiration of sakura he saw blooming at that time along the Sumida River. But the sight of the beautiful cherry trees which line the Sumida riverbanks in spring reminds me of the poem by Narihira, who is my favorite poet.

Cherry Blossoms Viewing in Sumida Park

Sumida Park is one of the best spots for “hanami” or cherry blossoms viewing in Tokyo. Cherry blossoms in Sumida park  are truly exciting. Especially, ever since Tokyo Skytree appeared near the park, the beauty of the cherry blossoms in full bloom against the backdrop of the building that stands for the contemporary Tokyo is really instagenic at the peak season from late March to early April.

More than 700 cherry trees are growing on both sides of the Sumida River.  According to a book about the history of Sakura and hanami in Tokyo, the planting of the Sumida cherry trees launched after the mid-1600s in the Edo period (1603-1867). Especially under the rule of Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751), the 8th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.

After the establishment of the Tokugawa government, Japan finally entered the war-free period of about 260 years. This peaceful era allowed common people in Edo, the old name of current Tokyo, to create their rich culture and enjoy it. The custom of hanami parties under beautiful cherry trees, as seen in the current “get-together” style, is also have been promoted by Yoshimune. Cherry trees in Sumida, along with those of Muko-jima Hyakkaen Garden (mid-west part of Sumida), Goten-yama Garden (Shinagawa),  Asukayama Park (Kita), and Koganei Park (Kodaira-Musashino), were planted as a part of major cultural promotion projects by Yoshimune for the commoners living in Edo City.

On the West Side of Sumida Park

Strolling along the riverbank paths of the Sumida River in a mild spring breeze is among the basics of enjoying Sakura.  On the west-side path, annually the town organizes Sakura Festival. It takes place for a few weeks from late March to early April.  The radiant beauty of cascades of cherry petals on Somei Yoshino, Shidare-zakura, and many other varieties of Sakura trees welcomes you. Cruising on a “yakata-bune” houseboat will make your sakura viewing trip more gorgeous if you have leeway in your trip budget. There is a houseboat operator that offers its cruising services bookable from 2 people. Taking on a water bus trip is also an attractive choice to think of.  The Sumida River Line, one of the water bus services by Tokyo Cruise Ship, takes you to the well-kept Hamarikyu Garden, another fascinating spot for cherry blossoms viewing.

On the East of Sumida Park

From the west side of the Sumida River, you will see two buildings that are truly conspicuous. The taller one is the Asahi Breweries Headquarters building. Its shape resembles a huge beer jug that has white foam head on the roof. The shorter one is Super Dry Hall, which is a building resembling a black beer glass with a symbolic object of golden flame on top.  Both buildings house some fancy bars and restaurants.

Keep walking from the Asahi Breweries complex on the east bank path to the north, and you will reach the X-shaped “sakura-bashi” pedestrian bridge. Near the bridge, there is a small shop that sells a local sweet snack “sakura-mochi”. It is a pink rice cake with sweet bean jam paste in its center. It is in a pickled cherry blossom leaf when served.  The superb combination of sweet taste from the bean paste and salty one from the pickled sakura leaf makes your mouth water. But be ready for long lines during the peak season of hanami.

Details and Access

Dates (blooming period): late March to early April every year. The festival takes place from March 21st at 10:00 am to April 7th at 6:00 pm, 2019

Place: Sumida Park

Address:  1 Chome-2-5 Mukojima, Sumida City, Tokyo

Admission Fee: Free

Official website (Japanese only): http://www.city.taito.lg.jp/smph/index/event/kanko/sumidasakuramatsuri.html 


To enjoy viewing cherry blossoms on both banks of the Sumida River in Sumida Park, I recommend the west bank to be the first to start with. Then the east bank after crossing the X-shaped Sakura-bashi, as it is more accessible from Asakusa Station.
Asakusa Station is the terminal station on the Tobu Skytree Line and the Tokyo Metro Ginza (orange) Line.  Near the Asakusa Station, there is actually an Asakusa station on each of the Toei Subway Asakusa Line and the Tsukuba Express Line. The Asakusa Station on the former Lines is the closest to the main entrance of Sumida Park.  This is why the “west bank” approach is recommendable.

Closing Remarks

Let me get back to the poem by Narihira. As a matter of fact, there was a man who penned a poem to respond to Narihira’s poem that I mentioned in the introduction. He replied, “Ephemeral life of cherry blossoms makes them all more elegant because nothing in this world is everlasting.”  I can’t agree more.

If you would like to enjoy Cherry blossoms in Sumida park and explore Tokyo with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!

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Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/ 

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Here’s the link. URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2566/ 

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URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/osaka-kansai-cherry-blossoms-spots-sakura-festivals-feel-spring 

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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

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Have two kids. Teach English at an “eikaiwa” school more than a decade Love cake.

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