1. Lake Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
    Photo: Wolfmaster13/DreamstimeLake Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
  2. Kawagoe Shingashi River
    Photo: クリストファー/Photo-ACKawagoe Shingashi River in spring
  3. Gongendo Park, Saitama
    Photo: Nathapon Triratanachat/DreamstimeGongendo Park, Saitama

9 best cherry blossom day trips from Tokyo

Take a short trip out of the city and experience these sakura destinations in Kanagawa, Saitama and Yamanashi

Kaila Imada
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Kaila Imada
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Tokyo isn’t short of brilliant cherry blossom spots, but there are also incredible sakura destinations just outside the city that are perfect for pleasant day trips. Not only are these lesser-known areas beautiful, they also tend to be less crowded than some of the cherry blossom hotspots around Tokyo. From sakura with the backdrop of Mt Fuji to traditional gardens full of pink flowers, these cherry blossom retreats are definitely worth the excursion.

RECOMMENDED: The greatest cherry blossom trees of Japan and where to see them

Kawagoe Shingashi River, Saitama

If Tokyo’s Meguro River is your usual go-to sakura site, switch it up this year by heading out to Saitama’s Kawagoe city, also known as ‘Little Edo’ for its historical streets and buildings. Behind the Hikawa Shrine, you’ll find a gentle river flanked by grassy banks and cherry trees. One of the best times to visit is during the Coedo Kawagoe Spring Matsuri, which takes place from March 24 to April 21 this year. During this event, you can take a slow boat ride along the sakura-lined river.

How to get there: Kawagoe Station is about 30 minutes from Ikebukuro Station. From there, you can take a ten-minute bus ride to Hikawa Shrine, right next to the river. Bus numbers 1 and 6 from Kawagoe Station are your quickest options.

Gongendo Park, Saitama

Gongendo Park looks like it came straight out of a painting. The colours are stunning at this famous sakura-viewing spot, which has a striking 1 km-long stretch of cherry blossom trees right next to a field of bright yellow nanohana (canola flowers). Around 1,000 cherry blossom trees make up the sakura tunnel and are accented with cute pink lanterns during peak season.

How to get there: Gongendo Park is about an hour and a half from Ueno Station by train and bus. You can walk to the park in around 30 minutes from Satte Station, which is the closest train station.

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Omiya Park, Saitama

This massive greenspace a short train ride from Tokyo is home to a magnificent collection of roughly 1,200 cherry blossom trees. You’ll find them along the banks of Omiya Park’s very own lake and around Hikawa Shrine. Plenty of food vendors set up in the park during sakura season, so you can easily enjoy a peaceful hanami picnic under the trees.

How to get there: It’s just over 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Omiya Station. Once at Omiya Station, you can walk to the park in about 20 minutes.

Lake Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi

If you’re looking for a scene that screams ‘Japan’, you’ve got to head to Lake Kawaguchiko during cherry blossom season. Around 300 sakura trees line the shores of the lake with a jaw-dropping backdrop of Mt Fuji. Visit from March 30 to April 14 and you’ll catch the annual cherry blossom festival, which has food stalls and a crafts market. If you're around during the evening, the cherry blossoms along the lake are lit up for a gorgeous yozakura (evening cherry blossom viewing) experience.

How to get there: The cherry blossoms are located on the north end of the lake near Kawaguchiko North Bank Walking Trail. It’s about three hours from central Tokyo by train and bus. Once at Kawaguchiko Station, take the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus for around 20 minutes and alight at Sarumawashi Theater Konohana Museum.

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Kamakura Kotokuin Temple, Kanagawa

Popular seaside destination Kamakura is a lovely place to visit come spring. One of the best spots to catch the blooming cherry blossoms is at Kotokuin, the temple where you’ll find the Great Buddha of Kamakura. There are some gorgeous trees situated around the Buddha (which make for great photos) as well as throughout the rest of the temple grounds.

How to get there: Kamakura is roughly an hour from Tokyo Station. Once you get to Kamakura Station, take the Enoden tramline to Hase Station, from where Kotokuin Temple is a seven-minute walk.

Hakone Haya River, Kanagawa

Hakone is a relaxing getaway for an onsen break, but it’s also a wonderful spot to enjoy spring’s most popular flowers. One of the local sakura hotspots is the Haya River in Miyagino, which is home to a 450m-stretch of somei-yoshino sakura trees. More than 100 trees are planted here and the entire area is illuminated during the Miyagino Cherry Blossom Festival, which usually takes place from the end of March until mid-April. 

How to get there: This sakura spot is about one hour and 15 minutes from Tokyo Station by shinkansen and bus. Once at Odawara Station, you can take a bus to the Miyagino Information Center, from where the river is a couple of minutes’ walk away. The T Togendai Line bus heading for Togendai is the best option.

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Sankeien Garden, Kanagawa

This beautiful Japanese garden in Yokohama was designed in 1906 and is dotted with traditional buildings that were saved from ruin and transported here, including Tomoyoji, a three-storey pagoda from Kyoto. It makes for a wonderful setting to enjoy the large garden’s many sakura trees. Opening hours are extended during full bloom and the sakura trees are illuminated, as is the striking Tomoyoji.

How to get there: Sankeien Garden is just over an hour from Shinagawa Station by train and bus. City bus number 8 or 148 will take you from Yokohama Station to Sankeien-Iriguchi bus stop.

Hadano Sakura Festival, Kanagawa

If you're looking to escape the city for cherry blossoms but not travel too far away from Tokyo, Hadano in Kanagawa prefecture is worth the trek. Hadano Sakura Road is a 6.2km-long street flanked by hundreds of gorgeous sakura trees. Over at Hadano Culture Park, you'll find even more cherry blossoms as well as the vibrant Hadano Sakura Festival which boasts an impressive illumination from 6pm to 9pm.

How to get there: You can easily reach Hadano Station on the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station in just over an hour.

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Okutama Happoiwa Observatory, Tokyo

While this cherry blossom spot is technically in Tokyo, it’s out in Okutama, which is a considerable distance from the city centre. Happoiwa Observatory is a public observation deck that looks out onto Lake Okutama from 680 metres above sea level. During cherry blossom season, the hillside overlooking the northwestern shore erupts in various shades of pink and you can get an incredible view from the observation deck.

How to get there: The Happoiwa Observatory is about two hours and 45 minutes from Tokyo Station by train and bus. The closest bus stop is Okutamako, from where the observatory is just a three-minute walk.

More cherry blossom fun

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