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We usually visit our family in Japan during the holidays but this year we made it a point to visit during the cherry blossom season so that we could see these special trees blooming in Tokyo at Meguro River. We haven’t seen the cherry blossoms in a very long time and to be honest, I don’t think we really appreciated it as much as we should have while we were living in Japan. We weren’t going to take it for granted this time!
The cherry blossom trees are usually in full bloom the first week of April, but the weather forecasted that it would be early this year so we flew to Japan the last week of March. Once cherry blossoms reach full bloom, they only stay up for a week or shorter if there is strong wind or rain. The season is very short so going at the right time can be a bit tricky. Luckily, we were able to see some cherry blossom trees pretty much in full bloom when we stopped by Meguro River.
Meguro River is famous for their cherry blossom tree lined river. People from all over the world come here to view the trees both during the day and night. Various food and liquor vendors set up shop along the river and any restaurant here needs reservations months in advance.
Since we visited during the week and when it wasn’t exactly full bloom everywhere, the crowds were less than it would have been at 100% full bloom. We were actually relieved that it wasn’t 100% full bloom because we probably couldn’t handle the massive crowds. It was already crowded when we went, so any more than that would be a bit too uncomfortable for us. If you are determined to visit Meguro River during the cherry blossom season, here are some tips:
USE THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU GET TO MEGURO RIVER
There aren’t a ton of bathrooms and if you do spot one, the lines are going to be long. We suggest either using a bathroom at a previous train station before you arrive.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY THE STREET FOOD
Street food in Japan is delicious and one of our favorites is yakitori. It’s a Japanese grilled skewered chicken and it typically comes in two flavors: salted or sweet sauce. It’s a convenient dish to eat especially when there are no tables and chairs. It’s usually considered impolite to walk and eat in Japan, but in cases like this when there is a festival with food vendors it’s completely fine.
BE PREPARED FOR LONG WAIT TIMES AT THE WORLDS LARGEST STARBUCKS RESERVE ROASTERY
Starbucks opened their largest store this year right along Meguro River and, SURPRISE!, it’s already a huge hit. We wanted to step foot inside this new fancy Starbucks, but to our surprise the wait time was between 3-4 hours. You have to register at their kiosk which will then give you a number. You will then be contacted when it’s your time to come back.
START YOUR WALK FROM NAKA-MEGURO
Starting from Naka-Meguro station you can walk all the way along Meguro River and the walk will be gorgeous the entire way. Don’t worry about getting lost because it’s pretty much impossible to miss.
GO EARLY ON A WEEKDAY TO AVOID THE LARGE CROWDS
Surprisingly, it gets packed the later it gets. The views of the cherry blossoms are just as beautiful in the dark when the lanterns start to light up at dusk. We wish we could have stayed longer to view the cherry blossoms at night, but we were super tired from a very early start to our day and left the area right before sunset.
Despite visiting during the week with some of the cherry blossom trees not reaching full bloom, it was still pretty packed. The weekends are guaranteed to be full of people so if it’s not your thing to view cherry blossoms with large crowds it may be best to avoid the weekends. We were happy that we went shorty before the cherry blossom trees were in full bloom. This resulted in a lesser crowd so that we had some room to breath and to walk comfortably along the river.