When sakura season rolls around, Tokyo’s top hanami spots can become a tad overwhelming. So how do you plan a romantic stroll among the blooms that’s away from the crowds? We’d like to let you in on a little secret: without having to travel too far, you can enjoy some of the most spectacular cherry blossom viewing in the city at Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa.
The hotel is just a five-minute walk from the Takanawa exit of Shinagawa Station (also super convenient if you’re arriving by shinkansen or from Haneda Airport) and from March 15 to April 5 will be hosting their Takanawa Sakura Matsuri 2020. This event includes not only a special accommodation offer but also the chance to participate in cultural workshops presented by traditional Kyoto craftsmen and stores. Here, we give you a guide to how to make the most of all the special experiences and activities on offer.
Hanami With a Cultural Twist
The first thing you should do when you arrive is explore the hotel’s expansive Japanese garden. Covering an area of about 20,000m2, this beautifully landscaped garden boasts around 210 cherry trees in 17 different varieties. The blossoming season usually begins in mid-February with the early-flowering Kawazu cherry trees and extends through to late April.
If you happen to be visiting on March 20 or 21, take advantage of the hotel’s Kimono Garden Stroll experience, during which you can rent a kimono, have photographs taken in a traditional rickshaw, and enjoy a performance of Japanese drums and shamisen.
Also scheduled for these two days are a couple of cultural craft activities including yuzen handkerchief dyeing (March 20) and a kindami workshop during which you’ll be able to decorate a kimono with gold foil and create accessories such as hairpins and brooches (March 21).
[UPDATE: Please note that due to coronavirus, the Kimono Garden Stroll experience, along with rickshaw and performance, has been canceled until further notice.]
For Sake and Foodie Fans
If you love sake, be sure not to miss the tastings offered in the Chikushin-an tearoom on March 21 and 22. Five esteemed sake breweries will take part, giving you the chance to sample some of Japan’s best alcohol and to hear an informative talk by one of the chief brewers. No reservation is needed for this event.
For dinner and drinks, Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa offers a variety of restaurants and bars. Gaze out across the garden of cherry blossoms while tucking into excellent quality French or Japanese cuisine.
Guests staying overnight also have the option to dine in the privacy of their hotel room. As part of the Takanawa Sakura Matsuri 2020, you can book a deluxe twin room for two people (from ¥20,523 per person) any time between March 15 and April 5. This Cherry-Blossom Viewing Stay package includes a delightful sakura bento box so you get all the hanami picnic frills without the chaos of Tokyo’s crowds.
Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa’s Sakura Matsuri 2020 runs from March 15 to April 5 with specific events scheduled to take place on March 20, 21, 22, 28 and 29.