Everyone knows that spring in Japan is a magical time when the landscape is covered in pink and white hues of the cherry blossoms. One of the best places to witness this phenomenon is, perhaps surprisingly, at Yanaka Cemetery, a metropolitan cemetery located in Tokyo. While it may seem counterintuitive to view cherry blossoms in a cemetery, Yanaka Cemetery offers a unique and peaceful hanami experience.
Yanaka Cemetery has a rich history dating back to the early Meiji period, when the Tennouji districts devastated by the Ueno War became Yanaka Cemetery. Today, it is a large general cemetery with about 7,000 graves, including the grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th Tokugawa Shogun, and other famous people such as Shibusawa Eiichi, Hatoyama Ichiro, Yokoyama Taikan, and Hasegawa Kazuo.
In addition to its historical significance, Yanaka Cemetery is also famous for the beautiful cherry blossom trees that line Sakura-dori, the central parkway that runs north-south through the cemetery. The Someiyoshino cherry trees bloom from late March to early April, providing a breathtaking view of pink and white petals against the serene backdrop of the cemetery. Visitors can also find the rare Ukonzakura cherry trees near Tenno-ji Temple.
North of Yanaka Cemetery is Tennoji Temple, which leads to Momiji-zaka, a staircase leading down to Nippori Station. South of the cemetery are Yanaka Okano Eisen, which serves delicious homemade daifuku (rice cakes), and Aitamago, where visitors can taste aitamago, which originated in Taiwan.
To get to Yanaka Cemetery, take the JR Yamanote Line to Nippori Station, and then it is a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance of the cemetery. The cemetery is open every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and admission is free.
Yanaka Cemetery is a popular destination for those who wish to immerse themselves in Japan's rich history and culture while experiencing the beauty of the cherry blossom season. With its peaceful atmosphere and stunning views, it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature in the city.