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Top 5 Essential Tips For The Best Tokyo Cherry Blossom Chase Ever


Atiqah •  Feb 08, 2018


Anyone who's been to Tokyo (or Japan in general) would agree that the best season to visit this vibrant metropolitan city is during sakura or cherry blossom season ? And why wouldn't it be? With unforgettable views of fluttering pastel pink flowers high up in the trees and the wind gently caressing your face as you wander from one spot to another, the experience of viewing these seasonal blossoms is like no other. Credit: giphy As major sakura enthusiasts ourselves, we've compiled our top 5 tips for the best cherry blossom chase ever! From the top viewing spots to planning the perfect hanami party, here's all you need to know for your upcoming trip to Tokyo ? [inlinewidget id=42563]
1. Book your hotels early!
Even though 2018 has just started, everyone's already scrambling to book the hotel of their choice for their trip - since it's a well-known fact that hotel prices tend to skyrocket during the cherry blossom season!
Book a stay at Shinjuku Washington Hotel, which boasts super clean and spacious rooms! It’s located just a short walk away from Shinjuku station and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the city's most famous (and free!) observatory. After you drop off your bags and check in at the hotel, you can easily make your way to the building for stunning panoramic views of Tokyo ?
Credit: Manish Prabhune on Flickr But the nearby view is not the best part! We especially love how Muslim-friendly this hotel is ? Fellow Muslim travellers can request to rent complimentary prayer mats and compasses. There’s also a 24-hour convenience store located in the hotel itself, so anytime you’re hungry, simply head over to the store and choose from their large selection of items (we heard their Muslim-friendly salmon onigiri flavour is pretty good ?).
Credit: Shinjuku Washington Hotel, Tokyo (新宿ワシントンホテル) on Facebook But if you prefer dining out, don’t know where to go or how to even speak Japanese, not to worry! There’s a Foreign Visitors Desk the hotel set up exclusively for foreign customers at the lobby. The counters support English, Chinese and Korean – feel free to ask and they’ll be more than happy to provide useful information on nearby halal/Muslim-friendly eateries. P.S. Want to win a 4D3N stay for 2 at the gorgeous Shinjuku Washington Hotel in Tokyo? Here’s what you need to do: 1. LIKE HHWT and Shinjuku Washington Hotel, Tokyo (新宿ワシントンホテル) Facebook pages  2. TAG a friend you would love to stay at this hotel with 3. COMMENT in our Facebook post why you’d like to stay at Shinjuku Washington Hotel 4. SHARE this post with your friends (remember to set it to public!)
The giveaway ends on 21 February 2018 and is open internationally!
Just to get you started, we've highlighted our top few favourites below!
Nearby halal eateries:
Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka Slurp up a piping hot bowl of ramen, served ochazuke style with a bowl of rice, grilled chicken and yakitori. The servings are huge here, so make sure you come with an empty tummy!
Address: 1-11-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday; 2pm-10pm, Saturday and Sunday: 12.30pm-10pm (Closed on Fridays) Gyumon Sink your teeth into tender, flavourful halal yakiniku that’s been grilled to perfection! You’ll have a blast cooking the meat on a charcoal stove.
Address: 3-14-5 Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan Opening Hours: Mon to Sat; 5pm-11pm (Closed on Sundays)
2. Plan your chase carefully (and in advance!)
Before you jet off on your cherry blossom adventure, remember to check the sakura forecast for the year. The official forecast is normally released a few months prior to the season, however, you can roughly gauge when the flowers will start blossoming (typically starting from March to May).
The stages of blooming and vibrancy of colours vary, depending on which city/destination in Japan you're heading to. Based on 2017's cherry blossom forecast for Tokyo, the flowers were predicted to start blooming from late March all the way to early April.
Credit: Japan-guide However, do take these dates with a pinch of salt as the blooming period is largely affected by the weather at the time – if it's mild, the blossoms open early. If it’s too cold, they open later. This is why we'd strongly recommend that you plan your trip way in advance and give yourself at least a week in Tokyo – just to make sure that you’ll be able to catch it in case of variations in bloom time ?
3. Cover the best viewing spots in the city
Now that you know when's the best time to go, it's time to decide where you should go for the most magical views of these pink-hued, willowy trees. Here are our personal favourite spots: Shinjukugyoen National Garden One of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks, this former feudal lord's residence is just a short 10-minute walk away from the Shinjuku station. Over a thousand cherry trees from different species are planted here, which means that trees tend to bloom at different times so the visiting period here can be stretched out even longer!
#HHWT Tip: Stay in the Shinjuku area for the best sakura viewing spots within walking distance! Shinjuku Washington Hotelis just a short distance away from Shinjuku Gyoen ? With such a spacious lawn area, winding walking paths and picturesque scenery, this garden is the perfect place for a quick escape from the bustling city life ? Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014, Japan Opening Hours: 90am to 4:30pm (entry until 4:00pm) Entrance Fee: ¥200 Ueno Park  Locals and tourists alike flock to this enchanting park, and for good reasons! Surrounded by towering cherry trees and hanging lanterns gently swaying in the breeze, the act of walking through this park is just like a scene straight out of an anime film.
Credit: Karl Baron on Flickr Being one of the most popular viewing spots in the city, you can surely expect to find throngs of visitors scattered all over the park, armed with mats and a hearty picnic spread to last them through the day.
Credit: Jennifer Bailey on Flickr For a unique viewing experience, make your way to the nearby Shinobazu Pond and rent a row boat or pedal-powered swan boat. It's such a serene feeling - slowly maneuvering around the pond whilst catching glimpses of fallen blossoms floating on the surface. Have your camera in hand, since you're bound to capture more close-up shots of the pretty petals near the water's edge ? #HHWT Tip: Book accommodations that are conveniently located near train stations (Shinjuku WashingtonHotel is just a 10-minute walk away from Shinjuku station)! From there, it’s a quick 30-minute train ride to this park. Address: Japan, 〒110-0007 Tokyo, Taitō, Uenokoen, 5−20 Opening Hours: 5.00am-11.00pm Meguro River Can't get enough of cherry blossoms during the day? Swing by the Meguro River just before sunset to watch in awe as the overarching trees along the canal light up and illuminate the pastel blossoms ✨
Getting There: You can take the Tokyu line from Shibuya or the Hibiya line on the subway to get to Nakameguro. Alternatively, you can also take the JR Yamanote line to Ebisu station. The walk to Nakameguro is around 15 minutes from Ebisu. #HHWT Tip: For an even more memorable experience, hop on a night time cruise or rent your own boat (if your group is big enough!) down the Meguro River.
4. Essentials you need for the perfect hanami
Aside from pushing through the throngs of visitors at every viewing spot, you'll also see several groups laying out giant mats under the hanging sakura branches, with food and drinks to boot! This is what locals call hanami, which is a fun combination of a picnic party and sakura viewing experience.
Credit: Dick Thomas Johnson on Flickr There's no better way to enjoy a relaxing picnic than to munch on delicious food while taking in the breath-taking scenery! Of course, to complete your authentic Japanese picnic experience, you'll need to bring along some essentials:
  • Tatami, or a large plastic mat and portable floor cushions
  • Disposable cutlery, wet wipes and garbage bags (remember to keep the area clean!)
  • Disposable heat packs - it can get pretty chilly, even in the spring
  • Portable chargers for all your gadgets
Credit: Japanexperterna.se on Flickr The early bird catches the worm when it comes to securing the perfect hanami spot (our personal favourite spot is at Shinjuku Gyoen, which isn’t too far away from the Shinjuku Washington Hotel)! #HHWT Tip: Want to escape from the crowds? Have your hanami at Shinjuku Chuo Park, just a 6-minute walk from the hotel! Head over early and reserve your spot in advance by spreading your picnic mats. As a precaution, do remember to check beforehand if the area you're in allows hanami parties to be held by going to the website or contacting the relevant personnel.
5. Stock up on limited edition sakura merchandise before leaving
Even before the cherry blossoms start blooming, the wave of pink mania will have already conquered Japan ? Everywhere you go, you'll see sakura themed goods, food and drinks - among others! But, the top contender for the most sought after sakura merch goes to Starbucks!
Credit: Cotton Fluff Japan on Facebook Starbucks has since created a wide array of pastel pink mugs, cups, tumblers, membership cards, notebooks and more - adorned with pretty flowery prints ?
Credit: Mint's Starbucks Collection Shop on Facebook Do note that these items are for a limited time only and the stock usually runs out quickly - so fastest fingers first ? [inlinewidget id=42563] Now that you've learned everything you need to know for the best cherry blossom experience, it's time to start planning the chase of a lifetime! Don’t forget to book the Shinjuku Washington Hotel for the perfect stay – complete with awesome Muslim-friendly services and for its close proximity to stunning viewing spots ? It's time to tick this experience off your Japan travel bucket list, you won’t regret it ? P.S. Want to win a 4D3N stay for 2 at the gorgeous Shinjuku Washington Hotel in Tokyo? Here’s what you need to do: 1. LIKE HHWT and Shinjuku Washington Hotel, Tokyo (新宿ワシントンホテル) Facebook pages  2. TAG a friend you would love to stay at this hotel with 3. COMMENT in our Facebook post why you’d like to stay at Shinjuku Washington Hotel 4. SHARE this post with your friends (remember to set it to public!)
The giveaway ends on 21 February 2018 and is open internationally!
[iframe seamless="seamless" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" height="450" width="100%" scrolling="no" src="https://pollbuzz.co/frame/2070?type=poll"][/iframe] Website | FacebookThis article was brought to you by Shinjuku Washington Hotel.