Cherry blossom season in Tokyo is late March to early April. If you are in Japan on 8 April, you have something that cannot be missed. It is the day of Hana Matsuri, yearly Buddha’s birthday festival!
|Full-Blooming Cherry Blossoms & Kiyomizudo Hall of Kaneiji Temple in Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan
Officially, this festival is called, “kambutsu-e” or “gotan-e,” but people like the friendlier name – “hana” means “flowers, especially sakura,” and Matsuri means “festival” in Japanese.
You will find things like this at Buddhist temples on 8 April.
|Hana Matsuri shrine and decorations
Temples make a small shrine decorated by flowers, put a statue in hydrangea tea (amacha) inside to celebrate Buddha’s birth.
Most travelers visiting Tokyo in cherry blossom season will go to Asakusa and/or Ueno. Then, you’ll drop in at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa and Kaneiji Temple that is part of Ueno Park. So easy to see Hana Matsuri, right?
(Attention! Hana Matsuri is a festival in TEMPLES, NOT SHRINES. See the difference between temples and shrines in Japan?)
|Views of Cherry Blossom and Bentendo Hall
The culture is not difficult at all; You pour amacha from the top of the statue by using the ladles.
|Little Buddha Statue and Amacha
Generally, Hana Matsuri is held only on 8 April, but Kaneiji (Kan-ei-ji) Temple in Ueno Park hold Hana Matsuri Week. You have many chances to see it!
You can see the flowery shrine at Kiyomizudo Hall and Bentendo Hall in Shinobazu Pond.
|Hana Matsuri shrine at Kiyomizudo Hall
At Kiyomizudo, visitors could taste amacha – As a local, I’d like to point out that it is a very rare chance. Amacha is NOT Japanese green tea, matcha, nor any other standard tea in Japan. The sweet tea appears only in Hana Matsuri. A local never misses this chance, and you?
|Views of Ueno Park from Kiyomizudo
In 2016, cherry blossoms reached peak on 31 March in Tokyo and lasted until Hana Matsuri. It depends on the year, but 8 April is always at the last days of cherry blossoms.
You do not need to worry.
When standard cherry blossoms start falling, the season of late kinds of sakura begins. For example, I saw this in Kaneiji Temple. You can see them in Ueno Park!
|Late-blooming Cherry Blossoms at Kaneiji Temple in Hana Matsuri Week
Cherry blossom season is NOT only cherry blossoms. When cherry blossoms are blooming fully, we have another thing to see.
Explore Japanese culture fully!
Bonus: Ueno Park Cherry Blossom Festival 2016 Photo Gallery
Ueno Sightseeing Guide by Tokyo Direct Guide