While Japan’s cherry blossom season is expected to start earlier this year – we’re talking more like mid-March – there are already a couple of places throughout Tokyo where you can admire pastel pink winter cherry blossoms. If you’ve missed the ones at Shinjuku Gyoen, then stop by at the Sakura Jingu Shrine in Setagaya. Since sakura means cherry blossom in Japanese, you might say the shrine is literally living up to its name.
After about ten minutes on the Den-en-toshi line from Shibuya, you’ll find yourself at Sakura-Shinmachi Station, a neighbourhood that’s all about cherry blossoms, from the pastel pink tiles lining the station’s platform to the station name itself.
Walk for about two minutes along the Shinmachi-Nichome road and you’ll reach this tiny local shrine boasting two massive winter cherry blossom trees.
We visited on March 1 and were impressed by the sight of countless pink blooms lining the shrine building on both sides, making it a perfect photo spot for anyone hunting for that perfect profile pic, only without the usual crowds of central Tokyo.
The vivid colour of the blossoms is emphasised by pink ribbons tied onto the branches, incorporating the hand-written wishes of visitors. But that’s not all, even the omamori lucky charms and wooden ema plaques used to write down your prayers are all adorned with beautiful cherry blossom designs. We can’t think of a better place to start your hanami (cherry blossom viewing) outing.
If you’re looking for some edible sakura treats instead, check out Tokyo’s best cherry blossom desserts and drinks.