Saturday, 21 January 2017

Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tokyo, Japan

Zg and I made the trip to Japan during the cherry blossom (sakura) season in 2016 to experience our very first hanami (also translated as "flower viewing"). It was really one of the best experiences ever and I could not stop marveling at the beautiful blooms.

We stayed at Sotetsu Fresa Inn Tokyo Kyobashi because we wanted somewhere near the Tokyo Station this time and Sotetsu Fresa Inn was one of those near enough yet still reasonably priced. It was about a 10-minutes walk from the Yaesu South Exit which we found using GPS from our Global Advanced Wifi Router. There was also a much closer subway station (Kyobashi) which was just right across the hotel. The room was small (as with all the hotel rooms in Tokyo) but clean and comfortable. They also gave each of us a small bag filled with packets of shampoo, shower foam and cotton pad, a shower cap, and a hair band, which I thought was really sweet. The convenience store was just round the corner and we headed there every night to stock up on snacks and bottled water. 

Another perk about staying near Tokyo Station was that we were near the Yaesu Ramen Street and could indulge in our favourite tsukemen at Rokurinsha!

Tokyo Station, 東京駅一番街 B1 東京ラーメンストリート内 1-9-1 Marunouchi, 千代田区 Tokyo 100-0005, Japan

Back to cherry blossom viewing. We visited two places to view the cherry blossoms in Tokyo.

Chidorigafuchi Park. 

We took the subway to Kudanshita Station and took a short walk to the Chidorigafuchi park. We were blessed with beautiful weather that day! The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and it was so amazing looking at a whole row of cherry blossoms on both sides of the moat. Come early because the park fills up quickly and soon you will find yourself jostling with many others for a good spot to take pictures. 

The best part about cherry blossom viewing in Chidorigafuchi was rowing a little boat around the moat and getting close to the low hanging branches of the lovely cherry blossoms. So the sign in the picture below states that the operating hours start at 11 am. But we did our research before going and read on a forum somewhere that we could start rowing at 930 am so that was when we arrived. However, despite being somewhat on time, we realised that a long queue had already formed even before the start of the operating hours! We joined the queue and managed to get into a little boat within 30 minutes. 

Rowing the boat was hard work and I have to thank my boyfriend for shouldering that responsibility. For a long moment, it felt like there was a cluster of boats near the boathouse and everybody was unable to move because we were all just stuck. We also spotted a pair of Chinese tourists who attempted to stand while being in the boat and rocking the boat so violently that they almost fell overboard. 

So anyway, after some furious rowing and trying to get away from the rocks at the side, my awesome boyfriend found a spot away from the crowd and proposed to me! Such a sweet happy surprise <3 

It was really very romantic and I would suggest this as a potential proposal spot for all the gentlemen reading my blog. Everything was just so beautiful and it felt so right. The blue cloudless sky, the sunshine on my face, beautiful blooms everywhere, and my boyfriend working his arms off to row the boat to the perfect spot. 

I wish I could stop there and leave you with this romanticized idea of his proposal but we are a very real couple so here's the other side of the story. First, our boat could not stop spinning. We could not figure out why but the boat started spinning away happily the moment he put down the oars to fish the ring box out of his pocket. Second, we were so afraid we would drop the ring into the water (now that would not have been funny) so we were ultra careful with sticking the metal band on my finger. Third, neither of us could remember which hand the engagement ring should go so we froze for a moment and tried to recall. Fourth, I could not stop laughing once the ring was on my finger! I laughed and laughed like a mad woman for a long long time in a spinning boat. Guess I was really happy. Last, my stomach started to ache after all that laughing and I realised I needed to use the restroom so I nagged him to return to the boathouse asap. There is nothing as real in a relationship as having to run to the loo right after your boyfriend (now fiance) planted an engagement ring on your finger! I also had to be annoying and demanded that we find a clean restroom ("No, I'm not using the one in the park! It's so dirty!") so we circled around the area until we found a large hotel that we could enter and use the restroom ;)

Shinjuku Gyoen. 

With an entrance fee of 200 yen and loads of tourists by the time we entered, we kind of expected Shinjuku Gyoen to suck. But Shinjuku Gyoen was large enough to accommodate the large crowd streaming through the gates and the cherry blossoms were everywhere! We entered through the Shinjuku Gate which was the nearest to the Shinjuku Station but you could also enter through the other gates if those are nearer to your station. We wanted to have our own little picnic under the cherry blossoms too but we left our picnic mat in the hotel so we decided to enjoy Shinjuku Gyoen by walking around the park (our legs were so tired by the end of the afternoon!). If you would like to take a little break and enjoy a snack under the beautiful cherry blossoms, remember to pack a disposable mat in your bag when you head to Shinjuku Gyoen!

For cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto, visit here.

For cherry blossom viewing in Osaka, visit here.

For my post on what to eat and do in Tokyo, visit here and here.

If you would like to read my day-to-day posts in Tokyo, you can find them here.

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