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Night Sakura at Chidorigafuchi

A view of the moat just before dusk

A view of the moat just before dusk

千鳥ヶ淵 Chidorigafuchi is perhaps the most famous moat in Japan. It is found north of the Tokyo Imperial Palace. In spring throngs of people flock to this spot. The must-see? 夜桜 yozakura or “night sakura”, cherry trees lit up to create an other-worldly atmosphere.

Blue sky behind pink blossoms

Blue sky behind pink blossoms

Chidorigafuch Ryokudo (“green road”) is a 700m long promenade lining the moat. In spring the two hundred and sixty cherry trees turn the green to pink with their delicate blossoms. Tons of city workers come to this place after work to see the “night sakura”. During the day couples row boats under the blossoms, enjoying the ethereal mood. And photographers have a field day capturing the tree silhouettes reflected on the water. Indeed, Chidorigafuchi has something for everyone.

Viewpoint before going on to the promenade

Viewpoint before going on to the promenade

The park constantly ranks on top of the “Best Places for Viewing Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)” in the Kanto area.

Brightly lit sakura look ethereal against the night sky

Brightly lit sakura look ethereal against the night sky

A Li’l Bit o’ History

During the expansion of the Edo (present-day Tokyo) castle after the start of the Edo period, Chidorigafuchi moat was built as a dam, stopping the flow of a river between Hanzomon and Tayasu. Chidorigafuchi was connected to the Hanzo moat bordering Daikanmachi Street, but in Meiji 33 (1900) the connection was reclaimed in order to build a road. Today, Hanzo is a separate moat adjacent to Chidorigafuchi.

View of the moat from the Ryokudo

View of the moat from the Ryokudo

Chidorigafuchi Cemetery can be found further up the road, enshrining the remains of unidentified Japanese soldiers who died overseas in World War II.

Entrance to the park from Kudanshita station

Entrance to the park from Kudanshita station

The Chiyoda cherry blossoms festival is held between late March to early April, depending on the flowers blooming. Lighting up of the trees is from 18:30 to 22:00. Lately the park uses solar-power generated LED lights, so we can skip some of the guilt.

Tons of people at night

Tons of people at night

Things Not to Do

Here are some things I learned.

1. Don’t go there at night after a long, tiring day. When the trees are in full bloom the crowd is so thick it’s hard to navigate. My husband was both hungry and tired, and became grumpier by the meter. So we ended up not covering much ground. Regretful, but there is always next year. For those who don’t live in Japan:

2. Don’t be lazy. Tired or not, super crowded or not, make sure you walk the length of the moat until you at least reach the boating area. Otherwise you’ll live to regret it.

White sakura against jet black sky

White sakura against jet black sky

When to Go

The photos in this article were taken in Spring 2012. Before going this year, check out the latest info here (it’s under the 区立公園 or “Ward Park” category) to make sure the blooms are out.

How to Get There

Chidorigafuchi is found within the 北の丸公園 Kitanomaru Park. It’s a short walk from Kudanshita station on the Tozai, Hanzomon, or Toei Shinjuku subway lines. There are maps of the area along the entrance of the park, so best to orient yourself. During peak sakura season, the crowd is so thick and going in one direction that you can just follow them and end up on the best viewpoints.

東京メトロ東西線・半蔵門線・都営新宿線九段下駅から徒歩約5分
東京メトロ半蔵門線半蔵門駅から徒歩約5分

Related Articles

Cherry Blossom Viewing at Mitsuike-koen – a hanami spot in Yokohama.
Hanami at Sumida Park in Tokyo – Tokyo Sky Tree among the cherry blossoms.

External Link

Walker Plus O-hanami 900 Scenes – a site with up-to-date information on the major hanami/sakura viewing spots in Japan.

I’d Love to Hear from You!

Do the night sakura want to make you brave the crowds? If you’ve been to Chidorigafuchi, any tips or advice? A penny for your thoughts in the comments section below!

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One comment

  1. If the place wasn’t crowded during the day I’d probably prefer to go then. How long is the walk? A kilometer?

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