Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Cherry Blossoms at Yasukuni Shrine - 2018

How many types of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) are there?  I can think of a few ways to do it: 1) sitting down on a rug (or more likely blue plastic sheet in Japan) and having a drink or two along with some food under the trees; 2) walking around a park or along a river, or; 3) enjoying them at a shrine.  This time I chose number three and went to a shrine, one of the most famous in Tokyo, Yasukuni.

Yasukuni shrine with some cherry blossoms nearby

Actually it wasn’t that long ago that I visited Yasukuni to write an article about it.  This time though I went with the specific purpose of just photographing it for the cherry blossoms.  In all honesty though, there are probably better places to enjoy the trees, but in this case, when you have that big shrine with all the people and being what it is, a memorial to those who died in past wars - you get something very interesting.  It is a very different cherry blossom experience.

Cherry blossoms at the Shinchi Teien, sacred pond

Something I have to admit though is, I’ve never been there in the early morning.  I think if you could get there when there is that soft morning light, you could get some remarkable pictures as the sun would be facing the shrine and would be well lit.  And of course, you wouldn’t have to work with the crowds.  That is the main problem with Yasukuni, the inner courtyard between the main gate and the shrine itself if were you’ll find many trees, but it can be so crowded.  The other areas for cherry blossoms are the causeway, but this year there was some construction work there, but towards the main torii good pictures were to be had.

Like many other cherry blossom spots in Tokyo, Yasukuni too gets very crowded

If you go there just for hanami, it is a little difficult to find a good place to just sit down and enjoy the trees.  There are places to sit around the Shinchi Teien (Sacred Pond Garden) and near the Yushukan (the museum), but that is about it.

Lots of people heading to pray at Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni also puts on performances as there is a stage, but since I am there just to take pictures of the trees, I have no time for them.  Like so many other things in life, I will make time, but not just yet.  Just another thing to put on my ever-lengthening bucket list.  So, expect to see them here … one day.

Tokyo Skytree seen from Yasukuni-dori, just outside Yasukuni shrine. Pity the weather wasn't so good when this picture was taken.

If I had to pick my favourite place there for a photo it is from one of the pedestrian crossings along Yasukuni-dori (Yasukuni street/road).  If you look down the road, Tokyo Skytree appears right in the middle.  If you can time your walk across the road, you’ll be able to snap a quick shot.

Cherry blossoms around the number 1 torii of Yasukuni shrine

Yasukuni is another good place to enjoy some of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms.  I recommend it.  And if you can add to my three ways to enjoy hanami, I’d appreciate it if you could let me know!

You can read my article about Yasukuni shrine here and see the shrine’s website here.