Hanami Highlights: A Photo Journey along the Meguro River

Over 800 cherry trees parallel the lantern-lined walkways on either side of the Meguro River. This beautiful spring spectacle, coupled with trendy riverside shops and restaurants, makes Naka-Meguro one of Tokyo’s most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots.
Due to the romantic ambiance created by the illuminated cheery trees, most articles (including my own) that you’ll read about the Meguro River highlight it as a place to see at night.

What most articles don’t cover, however, is just how crowded the banks of the Meguro River can get—especially around Naka-Meguro Station. Nothing kills the mood more than being engulfed in a sea of sightseers.

Thankfully, if you have some extra time and a good pair of walking shoes, you can have a more holistic hanami experience by strolling along the less crowded portions of the river, just as dusk turns to night.

2019-05-13   Visit: Charming Towns, Tokyo,

The calm before the storm

Looking northwest from Route 312 (Meguro-dori Avenue). This will be your first glimpse of the cherry trees that line the Meguro River.

I framed this particular route between two JR stations, starting at Meguro Station and finishing at Shibuya Station, which is ideal for Japan Rail Pass users. Upon emerging from the West Exit of JR Meguro station, finding the Meguro River is simple. Just keep walking west along Route 312 (Meguro-dori Avenue) and eventually you’ll see the river. From there, simply head northwest along either of the river’s elevated banks.

Taking a look back toward Route 312.

Since this segment of the riverbank lacks restaurants and shops, crowds are sparse, and you’ll be able to enjoy a pleasant, unencumbered stroll for about 1.5 kilometers. Take your time, snap some photos, and make the most of these moments because as you approach Naka-Meguro Station, the scenery and your experience, will begin to change.

A new world

The irresistible combination of beautiful cherry blossoms, trendy shops, and classy restaurants attract throngs of people.

Just after crossing Route 317 you’ll enter a new, bustling world filled with all of the excitement that Japan’s fleeting cherry blossom season brings. If you aren’t a fan of crowds, you may want to cut your stroll short and hop on the subway at nearby Naka-Meguro station.

However, if you get caught up in the seasonal excitement, you should press forward, merging with masses of people as they shuffle up and down the river snapping countless selfies along the way. Make your way through the crowds (or go around them via a side street) and you’ll eventually come across the headline-making Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo, currently the largest Starbucks Roastery in the world.

Gazing up at the massive Starbucks Reserve Roastery.

Winding down

Local businesses that support the annual Meguro River Sakura Festival are featured on the lanterns that line the entire promenade of cherry trees.

Once you reach Route 317 (Yamate-dori Avenue) it’s time to call it an evening and make your way northeast to JR Shibuya Station. Follow the elevated Shuto Expressway as you make your way to the station. It may not be the fastest route, but it will minimize your chances of getting lost in Shibuya’s hilly, labyrinthine neighborhoods.

Once you arrive at Shibuya Station, it’s time for your next adventure. The night is young and there are  more cherry blossoms to see before the all-too-brief season comes to an end.

For an interactive map of this five-kilometer walking route, click here.

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.


Address 3-4-1 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0051
Hours 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Price Varies
Close None
Access One-minute walk from Naka-Meguro Station
on the Tokyu Toyoko Line
or Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line
Phone None
Language Japanese
Website https://www.nakamegu.com/