By David, long-term Tokyo resident & food-loving traveler
Here are some ideas for what to do in Tokyo before the cherry blossom time begins. Winter peonies are already in bloom and there are a number of interesting events coming up.
January & February: Winter peonies at the Ueno Toshogu Shrine
Winter peonies, called fuyu-botan in Japanese, flower early in the New Year as a symbol of good fortune. In the garden of the Ueno Toshogu Shrine you can see over 200 plants that showcase different varieties and colors.
Open 9:30-16:30 until February 24, 2020. Admission 700 yen.
February 3: Setsubun, celebrating the coming of spring
Setsubun is the event that traditionally marks the end of winter in Japan. Many temples invite celebrities to participate in bean throwing ceremonies. At Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo, participants shout “Long Life! Welcome good fortune!” instead of the usual “Demons out! Welcome good fortune!”. Location: In front of the Main Hall of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
March 18: Hozon Jigen-e, celebrating the appearance of Bodhisattva Kannon
Sensoji Temple is dedicated to Bodhisattva Kannon. This annual event celebrates the beginning of the temple’s history which dates back to the year 628. According to legend, two brothers went out on the river to fish and found a golden statue of Kannon in their net. And a golden dragon descended from the heavens. Kinryu-no-mai, the golden dragon dance, is performed on this day near the temple’s main hall.
March: Sakura 2020, cherry blossom time in Tokyo
According to the first forecast for the 2020 cherry blossom season that predicts opening and full bloom, sakura trees in Tokyo will start to bloom March 19, 2020 and reach full bloom March 27, 2020. This would be about one week earlier than average. Check weather news to plan your trip during cherry blossom time. Forecasts are regularly updated for all parts of Japan in detail.
Ueno Park is one of the most famous places in Tokyo to experience the cherry blossoms. In the park there is plenty of space to go for a walk or have a picnic.
There are also several excellent museums located here as well as Ueno Zoo, so make sure to check the exhibition schedule. There is always a lot to see in and nearby Ueno Park. These are just a few of the places to visit.
Tokyo National Museum https://www.tnm.jp/
National Museum of Nature and Science https://www.kahaku.go.jp
The National Museum of Western Art https://www.nmwa.go.jp/en/
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum https://www.tobikan.jp/en/