In the past years I’ve been down on Tokyo sakura viewing. I mean when you can have a gorgeous castles in the background, see sakura on a mountaintop viewing regular sakura seems a bit boring? My mind really changed about how pretty Tokyo sakura viewing can be last year. One of my favorite spots was Nakameguro (中目黒). Nakameguro is famous as a destination for sakura because of its beautiful Meguro river that flows through it. The sakura drip over and its truly a gorgeous sight.

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The quintessential Nakameguro Sakura View (TM) and people free!

 

Nakameguro is a sought out place to live in Tokyo because of its hip but laid back vibe. It’s right next to fancy Daikanyama but not as expensive, so a lot of younger people live in the area.

Reasons I like Nakameguro Sakura:

Because it’s a river walkway you may be put off by the concrete of it all and lack of proper Tokyo sakura hanami viewing space, but these two things put off people so it’s much less crowded than places like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and Inokashira Park that get tons of drunk rowdy people. And it serves alcohol and lots of places to eat unlike Shinjuku Park. It’s also free unlike Shinjuku Park. If you can get a bench along the river it’s easy to spend several hours gazing and chatting.

 

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Sakura suits the river so well. I do think the Tottori river sakura are more beautiful but for central Tokyo sakura these are hard to beat. I headed out with Nicola and Linda.

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During a weekday the crowds are manageable and we were able to snag seats.

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The sakura do really cover all of Meguro river. Because of the shade and temperature differences theres a wide range when you can see sakura on just this one walkway.

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When we finally got seats this was our view. Pretty special right? The river really makes the crowds feel not so crowded. You can see one of the food trucks parked across the river. There were lots of tasty food options.

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The strawberry champagne was a big seller.

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We also got a bottle of pink sparkling wine to celebrate the season. Instagram worthy!

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Bonus! This super cute poodle we saw while enjoying an impromptu hanami.

 

Visiting Nakameguro for Sakura viewing:

Sakura season is finicky but even with buds or falling off the Nakameguro Matsuri is lovely to see. They do a light up as well for those seeking out a sakura light-up. It’s also an easy walk if you just want to put in an hour to view but not the whole day.

Nakameguro Station is a small station that can get super crowded during sakura season it’s on Tokyo Metro Hibiya and Tokyu Toyoko lines easily accessible through Shibuya. If you’re going at night or during the weekends I suggest getting off at Daikanyama Station of the Tokyu Toyoko Line (8 minute walk) or Ebisu Station on the Yamanote Line (14 minute walk) and walking to Nakameguro both of which are nice walks. Daikanyama has tons of cafes and cute food options in case Nakameguro gets too busy.

 

 

My first Sakura post of the year! I have more planned. I really got to enjoy sakura last year and I unfortunately can’t visit this year so hopefully posts on the blog turning pink will cheer up.  :hearts3:

 

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Sakura Foods in Japan is back with another edition. I love these posts!! It gets me so excited for eating more of them. Pink delicious food it’s a venn diagram of what makes me happy. And a lot of them were eating during traveling within Japan which makes me ultimate happy.

For the past two years other than my time in Japan and moving (to sample Atlanta’s good sweet spots), I’ve spent my life sugar free. I don’t eat fruit other than berries, I only use stevia in baking. That’s it. My eyes love sugar, my body hates it. I do tend to go crazy in Japan, but the rest of the time I abstain.

And for you sugar haters this sakura foods post actually includes some savory sakura items because I’m not picky when it comes to sakura food! Actually some of my favorite sakura foods haven’t been sweet.

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Top pick of most delicious sakura food. This sakura udon handmade at Hanamiyama in Fukushima. There is a light floral pickled taste to it.

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Sakura muffin picked up at Saitama on our way to Matsumoto Castle.sakura-foods-in-japan-ootoya-sakura-parfait

Sakura shows up in unexpected places like Ootoya (previous post on healthy eating in Japan here). And it lists its calories (along with allergies!). That whole thing for 380 calories seemed solid.

sakura-foods-in-japan-ootoya-sakura-parfait-closeupThe real deal wasn’t as cute, but it was tasty and for the Sakura-nesss you got sakura mochi AND a real sakura blossom on it. And if you don’t know this about me yet, I will eat every wa sweet in site. Red beans and matcha? I’m THERE!

So many layers. The sakura cronut at my favorite bakery chain Pompadour. This was my man’s favorite sakura food or at least he ate it most days it was available. :smiley:

Sebastian Bouillet macaron’s from Ikebukuro Seibu. Clockwise: Frambroise, Pina Colada, SAKURA and Shikuwasa (a Japanese citrus).

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Sebastian Bouillet is a confectioner based in Lyon and Tokyo. Makes very interesting macarons if you’d like to branch out from Laduree.

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Sakura fish? Yup it’s common in fancier restaurants. Chaya Macrobiotic in Shinjuku Isetan is one of my favorite healthy places to eat in Tokyo. Since Macrobiotic eating centers on seasonal it’s lovely they added some pickled sakura and other flowers to their fish. Although it’s a fancier place their lunch is only 2,160 yen ($18.00) so it’s not going to break your budget.

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Can’t pass up sakura season without a jaunt to Floresta Donuts. Last year was a cat sakura donut, the year before that was bear and chick. I’m curious what this year will bring. Love Floresta!

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Sendai Sweets went overboard with their Sakura Daifuku. Check out all that multi-mochi levels and fresh cream.

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They were selling strawberry cream daifuku, but who wants strawberry when you can go for sakura?

sakura-foods-in-japan-sendai-sweets-sakura-daifukuNot the best photo, but #trainlife. Another Sakura production by Sendai Sweets (last year’s sakura foods post had Sendai Sweets sakura).

Unexpected sakura! I ordered some matcha from the excellent matcha shop in Sendai called Ocha no Igeta (お茶の井ヶ田) it’s a must stop for me in Sendai, but the sakura tea dessert was delicious and unexpected.

That 3-d sakura *Homer drooling*

 I actually have a few more sakura foods to talk about but I’m holding them back for Sendai and Nagano posts. So stay tuned for the glory of Sendai foods and Nagano foods. This year I’m already planning to eat more of sakura foods and thus far this year it looks like there’s a lot more choices than usual. Franceslovesyou and I have booked some fancy teas with sakura themes this year so you’ll see some fancier sakura foods too. And I’ll probably take up the challenge to eat the First Kitchen sakura burger because I am a fool.

Previous Sakura food posts:

Sakura Foods in Japan (2015)Sweets Forest in Jiyugaoka – Sakura themed desserts | Q-Pot cafe in Harajuku with Sakura tasting | A collection of Sakura foods (2013) | A few Sakura foods (2011)

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Sendai sakura are definitely worth it if you’d like to prolong your sakura needs. After Tokyo and Kyoto’s sakura season is finished Sendai’s sakura season is still going on. After Tokyo’s blossoms fall off I’m usually left with a pink flower shaped hole. Or like last year the sakura forecast was off and I missed most of Tokyo’s blossoms and instead went to Matsumoto (previous post) and also went to Fukushima and Sendai.

There are three parks in Sendai proper that have sakura: Mikamine Park, Tsutsujigaoka Park, and Nishi Park. I chose visiting Tsutsujigaoka Park (榴ヶ岡) because it’s so close to Sendai station. You can actually just walk it in 20 minutes from Sendai station, or take the train to Tsutsujigaoka station(榴ヶ岡駅) on the Senseki JR line (仙石線).

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The classic vision of cherry blossoms: pink and frilly

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Ohanami indeed. A perfect setting for flower viewing.

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This kid knows what’s up. Best part of weeping sakura, you can touch them easily.

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Since sakura viewing is a drinking pastime alcohol companies provide free lanterns to parks as advertisements.

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This is now my twitter background. Perfect sakura.

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People go crazy over the traditional Somei Yoshino sakura trees. But I’m gaga for the weeping sakura known Shidarezakura. To me it looks like they’re hugging all the revelers.

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The weeping sakura curtain.

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Lots of cute festival food stalls up at the edge of Tsutsujigaoka Park.

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Cost of seeing these blossoms once you hit Sendai station? 0 yen!

Sendai is a really nice place to visit and closer to Tokyo than you may think, it’s only a 95 minute shinkansen ride from Tokyo station. Kyoto gets horribly packed for sakura season and if you’d like a calmer vibe Fukushima, Matsumoto and Sendai are all very good alternatives and have later seasons.

If you’re trying to see more sakura post the Tokyo bloom I really recommend the Fukushima and Sendai experience. You can actually do both in a one-night hotel overnight stay in Sendai (whose hotel rooms are much cheaper than Osaka or Kyoto). From Tokyo head to Fukushima spend your day there (I have a sakura post coming up about them and it’s worth it!) and then train to Sendai. The next day see Sendai sakura and other amusements and then shinkansen out.

Although the tragic earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was originally known as the Sendai quake, there is no damage to witness or radiation danger in Sendai or Fukushima when going to the main tourist spots or just out and about in both cities. But they could absolutely use your tourist dollars, so why not see them? They have a lot to offer, especially in sakura season.

I’m planning to go back this year, but actually to see the burgeoning tourist boom of Sendai’s fox village. Then I hope to check even more sakura.

 

If you missed any previous sakura posts on the Doll check them out here I’ve got a fourth in a series of sakura foods posts coming up too.  :hearts3:

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Matsumoto Castle sakura viewing wasn’t something I expected to do last Spring. Actually I thought I had planned my two week Spring trip to sakura forecast perfection. HAHAHHAA I WAS WRONG!

Sakura are gorgeous super fickle flowers. Forecasts change quickly and even if you wait until a month before to book your travel plans, the predictions can STILL BE off. Six days before I was set to leave for Japan the sakura flood came scrolling across my instagram and twitter and all I could do was sit there and glare. DAMN YOU SAKURA! But that’s one of the big things about sakura planning. You just have to be flexible.

The full pink of sakura season. The pinkness happens at the end of the main variety of sakura blooming.

Matsumoto Castle is one of those great flexible locations. It’s in Nagano prefecture but a very easy day trip from Tokyo (2 1/2 hours by train). Since it’s further up to the north, Matsumoto Castle (松本城 Matsumoto-jo) sakura bloom later than Tokyo. It’s a popular sakura location for Japanese and the castle appeared ready to with lots of volunteers for their “mankai” or full bloom season. Spring is the most popular time to visit and with good reason!

Matsumoto Castle is known as Crow Castle because of its black exterior. I think its dark look really sets off sakura well.

Matsumoto Castle in its full glory. Along with Matsumoto City’s mascot Alp-chan (アルプちゃん) dressed in samurai armor. For the sakura season there was also a roaming guy dressed in samurai armor that you could take photos with (top right).

Anything x sakura or red maple is my WA OTP so when I’m able to get blossoms x castle… so much bonus!

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The castle peaking out from behind the sakura.

There were a few weeping sakura. Weeping sakura bloom later than regular sakura. They’re very plentiful in Kyoto but not so much around Matsumoto castle.

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I usually don’t take many pictures inside of castles because they’re essentially darkened old buildings that house museum examples and mainly great for their exterior and for having wonderful views when you get to the top. I am so amused by old art though.

Climbing the castle was definitely worth it for this view. The moutains in the back are part of the Japanese Alps.

Inside the castle looking out to the grounds and city of Matsumoto.

Mankai or full bloom in all its glory. Matsumoto Castle sakura gave me hope I’d see more sakura that trip.

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Reasons I’m not on this blog, top being –  I cannot pose, I am more like a bakery possum than a human, and I make stupid faces. But damn it’s the only photo I got of the full glory of the line of sakura trees leading up to the castle. Check out that lovely pink sakura rain.

All I did was resize this photo because I wanted to show how some of the sakura very beautifully pink that day.  :dotbow:

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I love when sakura fall because they their whole blossom tends to fall.

We snuck in for the last full blossom day of Matsumoto’s sakura season. It was an overcast day and storms were brewing to rain the next day and take down the fragile blossoms.

How to get there: From Shinjuku take the Super Azuza (スーパーあずさ) limited express to Matsumoto station. There is reserved and unreserved seating which you can sort out at Shinjuku station. It’s free if you have JR Rail Pass or it’s 8,000 yen round-trip for unreserved. It’s a 15 minute walk to the castle from the station.

More information at: myoko-nagano

 

And to think this is just the sakura opener for the blog. So many more sakura posts to do. And many Nagano posts to do, too!

If you missed any previous sakura posts on the Doll check them out here I’ve got a fourth in a series of sakura foods posts coming up too.  :hearts3:

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