Kameido Tenmangu Shrine Plum Blossom Festival
Kameido Tenjin Shrine plum blossoms.

In eastern Tokyo (the area near Tokyo Skytree), there is a trio of major plum blossom spots: Kameido Tenjin Shrine (亀戸天神社), Omurai Katori Shrine Kobaien Plum Garden (小村井香取神社 香梅園), and Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden (向島百花園). They all hold a plum blossom festival (Ume Matsuri 梅まつり) from mid-February to early March.

If you start out by mid-morning, you can see all three plum blossom spots and maybe have time to visit Tokyo Skytree or Asakusa afterward. I recommend this tour sequence:

  1. Kameido Tenjin Shrine near JR Kameido Station on the JR Sobu Line. It’s a short train ride from Akihabara. This is the largest of the three spots for plum blossoms.
  2. Next go to Omurai Katori Shrine, within walking distance from Kameido Tenjin Shrine. After that, walk to nearby Omurai Station on the Tobu Kameido Line and take the train to Hikifune Station.
  3. Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden is a short walk from Hikifune Station.

To get back to town from Hikifune Station, you can take the Tobu Skytree Line to Tokyo Skytree (connected to Oshiage Station) or Tobu Asakusa Station.

For map locations, see the Google map at the bottom of this post or click here.

1. Kameido Tenjin Shrine Plum Blossom Festival (亀戸天満宮)

Kameido Tenjin Shrine is one of Tokyo’s famous Shinto shrines and famous for plum blossoms in February and wisteria in April. It’s one of the thousands of Tenmangu/Tenjin shrines in Japan that worship the famous Japanese scholar Sugawara Michizane (845–903) deified as Tenjin, the god of learning and scholarship. Students hoping to pass school entrance exams come to pray at Tenjin shrines.

Sugawara Michizane is closely associated with plum blossoms because he once wrote a poem for his beloved plum blossoms that “flew through the air” (飛梅) to follow him when he was exiled to Dazaifu in Fukuoka Prefecture. That’s why most Tenjin/Tenmangu shrines have plum blossoms. Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is the headquarters of Tenjin/Tenmangu shrines.

Kameido Tenjin Shrine has 300+ plum blossom trees all over the shrine grounds next to the prominent wisteria trellis. Quite a few weeping plum blossoms. The shrine’s plum blossoms and wisteria were made famous by woodblock prints by Hiroshige. The plum trees also bear fruit. The shrine staff harvest the plums (ume) in May.

What makes the plum blossoms picturesque is the red torii, red arch bridges, pond, and the shrine’s worship hall in the background.

From Kameido Tenmangu Shrine, you can walk to the next plum blossom spot at Omurai Katori Shrine. See the map at the bottom.

Address: Kameido 3-6-1, Koto-ku, Tokyo
When: Feb. 4–March 3, 2024
Admission: Free
Getting there: Near JR Kameido Station on the JR Sobu Line.
Official website (in Japanese only): http://kameidotenjin.or.jp/
More photos: https://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=2

2. Omurai Katori Shrine Kobaien Plum Garden (小村井香取神社 香梅園)

Omurai Katori Shrine Kobaien Plum Garden

Omurai Katori Jinja Shrine is a small neighborhood Shinto shrine in Sumida Ward. It has one of Tokyo’s best plum blossoms. There are 120 plum trees in 85 colorful varieties. Some of the plum trees are very tall. Five-minute walk from Omurai Station on the Tobu Kameido Line.

When you go through the main torii (left photo), the shrine has two small clusters of plum blossoms on the left and right. Stand under the weeping plum blossoms and the flowers seem to rain on you as the fragrance wafts through the air.

One highlight is when Sumida Ward’s Goodwill Ambassadors dressed in kimono visit the plum blossoms on the opening day in mid-February. Great photo op! The opening weekend will also have a koto performance (11 a.m.) and matcha tea and amazake served at cost from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Camera tripods not allowed.

Omurai Katori Jinja Shrine is one of 400 katori shrines in Japan dedicated to a god named Futsunushi-no-Kami (経津主神) also called Iwainushi-no-Kami (伊波比主神). It’s the god of swords and warfare. Warriors prayed to this god for victory in war. Athletes might also pray to this god for victory in sports competitions.

Nowadays, most people pray to this god to find a good marriage partner, safe childbirth, and marine safety. The headquarters shrine is Katori Jingu Shrine in Katori, Chiba Prefecture.

This area once had the large Omurai Plum Garden (小村井梅園) during the Edo Period (17th to 19th centuries) with low hills, large rocks, and a pond with many waterfowl. Besides plum blossoms, the garden had irises and flowering herbs. Many people would visit, even shogun family members. Unfortunately, a major flood in 1910 destroyed the garden and shrine. The shrine’s current worship hall was built in 1954. It wasn’t until 1994 when the plum blossoms were resurrected within the shrine grounds.

Address: Higashi Mukojima 3-chome, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
When: Feb. 17–March 3, 2024 Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Admission: Free
Getting there: Omurai Station on the Tobu Kameido Line.
English info: https://visit-sumida.jp/en/event/koubaien20240217/
Official website (in Japanese only): https://koubaien.sakura.ne.jp/koubai/
More photos: https://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=844

3. Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden (向島百花園)

Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden plum blossoms
Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden plum blossoms with Tokyo Skytree in the background.

Mukojima is one of Tokyo’s geisha districts just across Sumida River from Asakusa. It’s a quiet residential area in Sumida Ward and the Mukojima geisha operate in high-class restaurants. “Mukojima” literally means “island on the other side” of Sumida River. It was the former site of the Taga samurai clan’s residence.

In the neighborhood is Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden, a medium-size Japanese garden operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Hyakkaen means “garden with a hundred flowers,” but the garden actually has more than that, about 230 species of flowers and plants. Besides plum blossoms, it has Japanese bush clover (long tunnel), spring herbs, autumn herbs, and dogtooth violet. Whenever you go, you will find something in bloom.

The plum blossoms are scattered here and there in small clusters. There are benches for admiring the plum blossoms. Tokyo Skytree is visible in the background.

On Sundays in February (Feb. 11 and 18 in 2024), there will be traditional Edo Period street performances at 11:40 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. for 30 minutes. They will perform in front of the gift shop in the garden. Free admission for garden visitors.

They will also have a Sparrow Dance (すずめ踊り) on Feb. 12th (National Holiday) and 25th (Sun.) at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (30 min.) in front of the gift shop. (To be cancelled in case of rain.)

Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden was built during 1804–1830 by wealthy antique merchant Sahara Kiku who started the garden with 360 plum blossom trees to imitate the famous plum garden at Kameido Tenjin Shrine. Well-known flowers mentioned in the Chinese Classic of Poetry and Japanese Man’yoshu 8th century poetry collection were also planted. He also invited prominent poets and artists to the garden for literary gatherings. That’s why the garden has many poetry monuments by these poets.

The garden was decimated in 1910 by the great flood of Sumida River. In 1938, the owner donated the garden to the Tokyo municipal government which reopened the garden on July 8, 1939.

In 1945, Tokyo air raids by the U.S. destroyed the garden and much of eastern Tokyo. The garden was rebuilt in 1949, and designated as a National Place of Scenic Beauty and National Historic Site in 1978.

Unlike daimyo gardens like Koishikawa Korakuen Garden and Rikugien Garden in Tokyo, this garden was built by common folks, especially the literati.

Address: Higashi Mukojima 3-chome, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
When: Feb. 10–March 3, 2024
Hours: 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Admission: ¥150 (Free for elementary school kids, ¥70 for age 65+)
Getting there: Near Keisei Hikifune Station on the Keisei Oshiage Line and Higashi Mukojima Station on the Tobu Skytree Line. Or from JR Kameido Station (bus stop 6), take the Nippori-bound bus #22 (里22) and get off at Hyakkaen-mae.
English info: https://visit-sumida.jp/en/event/02100303mukoujima-umematsuri/
Official website (in Japanese only): https://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/park/format/index032.html
More photos: https://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=1168

Map below shows the locations of the above three plum blossom spots.

Other plum blossom spots in Tokyo