Let a certified guide take you on a tour of the best cherry blossom sights in Tokyo!

With the pandemic not yet under control, it’s still dubious whether cherry blossom viewing parties (hanami) are a safe activity this year. But either way you think of it, it looks like, after many people ignored recommendations last year, many parks in Tokyo are planning to restrict the number of parties that can put down a blanket or tarp on their grounds, so it might be difficult to secure a spot under your favorite tree this year anyway.

But don’t worry, there is another way to enjoy the beauty of spring in Tokyo. Why not try a cherry blossom taxi tour?

This new service, called “Ohanami Taxi 2021”, is currently being offered by taxi and limousine operator Nihon Kotsu. Their taxi vans, decorated with cherry blossom petal graphics, will be driven by certified tour guides who will use their knowledge of the best times to see cherry blossoms, and the best places to see them, to give you a tour of some of Tokyo’s most beautiful sakura spots.

There are two tour options: the “Two-hour Casual Course” and the “Custom Course”, which can range from three hours up to half a day. The Two-Hour Casual Course actually offers three different routes: one around Tokyo Station, another around Ueno Station, and the last around Shinagawa Station, each of which costs 10,280 yen (US$94.84), plus 2,470 yen for every 30 minutes over the two-hour mark. You can take your tour in the morning (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.), in the afternoon (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.), and even at night (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.).

These courses hit some of the most popular spots in the city, but also some lesser known spots that might be less crowded. For example, though Ueno Park is known as one of the best spots to have a cherry blossom viewing party, the Ueno tour stops not only at the Shinobazu Pond section of Ueno Park, but also at some small temples, and shrines in the vicinity.

The custom course costs 15,220 yen for the three-hour tour, plus 2,470 yen for every additional 30 minutes. With this course, you can ask the driver to take you to any cherry blossom viewing spots within the 23 wards of Tokyo, as well as the nearby cities of Musashino and Mitaka!

Since it’s completely customizable, you can decide on a route beforehand, or choose your stops as you go. For example, if you see a spot that looks nice as you drive by, you can ask your driver to take you there. And since you’re riding in a taxi, you don’t have to worry about finding and paying for proper parking. You can just hop in and out whenever you like!

Of course, Nihon Kotsu is promising stringent protection measures against the coronavirus, including antibacterial cleaning between bookings, requiring their drivers to wear a mask, and regular airing out of the vehicle, so not only can you avoid the crowds, but you can feel extra safe while doing so. Plus, having a personal tour guide take you around Tokyo is like having a real VIP experience! You’ll also get to check out multiple beautiful spots, instead of just one, which is great for tourists and visitors to the city.

Reservations for the Ohanami Taxi 2021 rides are open now, with tour dates projected to fall between March 20 and April 10, which is precisely around the time cherry blossoms are predicted to bloom. All riders will receive a commemorative card to remember their tour by, and the first 200 reservations will also receive an original bookmark made of bamboo.

You can place your reservation online through Nihon Kotsu’s Expert Driver Service website, or on the phone if you like. Up to four people can fit in one taxi, so why not bring your family or some friends and go for a cherry blossom tour this year?

Source: PR Times
Top image: PR Times

Insert images: PR Times, Nihon Kotsu
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