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It’s sakura (cherry blossom) time again in Tokyo! As the blossoms reach their peak in the next week, you can bet that people will be flocking to the parks to enjoy some much-needed R&R under the flurry of falling petals. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could get tired of gazing at the sakura since the flowers are only in full bloom for such a short time in the spring.

But if you’ve found yourself fighting through the hanami (blossom-viewing) crowds at Ueno or Yoyogi Park for several years in a row, you might be looking for a slightly more alternative, or even adventurous way to take in the ephemeral petals. If we’re describing you, check out these four alternative ways to enjoy hanami without having to break out that tired old picnic blanket or get up at 5 a.m. on your precious weekend to grab a decent a spot!

1) From a boat!

O-Edo Fukugawa Sakura Festival 
お江戸深川さくらまつり
1-1 Monzen-Nakacho, Koto-ku, Tokyo
江東区門前仲町 1-1

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Image: Goo Blog

If you’re looking for something tranquil and away from the crowds, how about a lovely boat ride? 2o14 marks the 10th year of the Fukugawa Sakura Festival. You’ll sail right past the sakura along the riverside in an old-fashioned, hand-rowed boat. You can also see the beautiful flowers lit up at night by special illuminations. After your ride, stop by the refreshment booths nearby that are run by a local university for the event.

Here’s what two people had to say about the boat ride:

“The view from the boat is amazing because the tree branches hang low along the water. It’s a wonderful sight when the blossoms are in full-bloom.”

“It’s like I traveled back in time to the Edo Period (1603-1867). The little food stands on the stone bridge overhead were also cute.” 

 ▼Modern-day Tokyo or 19th century Edo?

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Image: Koto Kanko

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Image: Goo Blog

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Image: Goo Blog

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Image: Goo Blog

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Image: Webry

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Image: Webry

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Image: Webry

2) From a kotatsu!

Grand Princess Hotel Takanawa
グランドプリンスホテル高輪
3-13-1 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo
東京都港区高輪 3-13-1

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Image: Ameblo

This is a stunning spot for o-hanami if you’re feeling (more than) a bit extravagant. The restaurant within the hotel offers a special boxed-in outdoor dining area from which to view the sakura, complete with everyone’s favorite low heated table, the kotatsu! You can also take a leisurely stroll in the 20,000 square-meter Japanese garden filled with 234 cherry trees of 19 varieties.

Although you’ll get a veritable banquet of top-quality food, just beware of the hefty 30,000 yen price tag (US$292!) per person. The special kotatsu area will be available for reservations until April 14.

 ▼Perfect for really special occasions

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Image: MSN Lifestyle

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▼On the menu: Kobe beef, tiger prawns, abalone, and red king crab!

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Image: Prince Hotels

▼The atmosphere at night is surreal

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Image: Prince Hotels

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Image: Twitter

3) From a bus!

Hato Bus Tokyo Sakura Kairo
はとバス東京さくら回廊

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Image: Tabinori

Why not enjoy famous sakura places around Tokyo from the convenience of a double-decker, open-roof bus? An hour-long tour narrated by a guide will cost adults for only 1,500 yen ($14.50) and children for half of that. Longer tours are also available. If you ride on the upper level, you’ll certainly get up nice and close to the blossoms! Details can be found at the Hato Bus website, but you might have to ask a Japanese-speaking friend to help translate.

Here are what two people who experienced the tour had to say:

“The tree branches were jutting out so it felt like I was flying past them in the sky!”

“There’s no roof so the sky seems close and the breeze feels great. When the wind blows, everyone shouts in delight as falling cherry blossoms cover the bus.”

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Image: Taru-Taru

▼It must be fun to view the blossoms from higher than usual!

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Image: Yukipyu

4) From a roller coaster!

Musashi no Mura
むさしの村
1700-1 Shidami, Kazo-shi, Saitama Prefecture 347-0042
347-0042 埼玉県加須市志多見 1700-1

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Image: Ikou yo

Musashi no Mura is an amusement park located in Saitama Prefecture, just to the north of Tokyo. This year is the park’s 45th anniversary, which will be marked by many special events. Every year it also hosts a “Sakura Festival” from the end of March through the start of April, during which you can enjoy the approximately 500 sakura trees within the park from any attraction! Whether you’ll actually be able to appreciate them while on a fast ride is another question…

▼The roller coaster even goes through a tunnel of sakura.

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 Image: Saitama Navi

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Image: Ikou yo

▼View from the ferris wheel

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▼Illuminations at night are also gorgeous.

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By the way, if you want to see the peak times for cherry blossom viewing in specific cities/regions of Japan, be sure to check out Japan-Guide’s 2014 cherry blossom forecast!

Source: Matome Naver
Top Image: Webry