IT'S only a six-minute train ride from Shibuya, or you can opt to walk if you wish. Meguro is a special ward in Tokyo.

The ward was founded in 1947. The name of the ward was derived from Meguro Fudo (black-eyed Fudo-myoo), one of five Fudo-myoo statues, each with different eye color, strategically placed at Edo’s outskirts in the early 17th century to provide protection for the new capital of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Nakameguro, a residential district in Meguro, is said to be one of Tokyo’s most popular and hippest neighborhoods, a designation it enjoys among others: one of the best places to live in Tokyo; one of best Tokyo neighborhoods for kids; and one of the best hanami spots in Tokyo. The last is what brought me to this place.

The riverbanks of the 7.82-kilometer Meguro River were remarkably landscaped that it serves as the urban green space of the wards along its length- Setagaya, Shinagawa and Meguro.

White and pink take over the green in Spring along the length of the river. It is during this season when Meguro wears its blushing robe and lures the lovers of the sakura. It ranks as one of the best places in Tokyo to view the cherry blossom at the peak of its bloom.

To mark the Nakameguro Sakura Festival, lanterns were placed along the river. At night, its faint pink glow illuminated the rosy petals of the cherry blossom hovering above the darkened tint of the river.

Believe it or not, as it was alluring as it is today, Meguro River was a place avoided in the past. The waterway was filled with industrial waste and it was only in the late 1980s when the government initiated a clean-up.

As the condition of the river improved, business in the area thrived. Taking the opportunities of setting up small modish retail shops, quirky cafes and restaurants were the young fashionable hipsters, who kicked off a trend that eventually shot Nakameguro to the hip district it is today.

I managed to catch the sakura in bloom by the Nakameguro riverside. The river’s width, smaller compared to Odagawa River in Machida, proved to be an asset. With the branches of the cherry blossom trees on both sides of the waterway touching, the river was canopied with blooms of pink flowers. It was a breathtaking sight.

But just like Odagawa, there was no area by the river where local and foreign tourists can spread a mat for hanami. People were already content walking under the cherry blossom trees by the watercourse, sit by the concrete benches or lean on the railings with a drink on hand.

For my friends and I, hanami was weaving through the crowd of locals and businessmen in suits and stopping for a couple of servings of sake from the pop up stalls as we found our spot by the river.

As the wind blew, we were showered with sakura petals and carpeted the pavement and the river in pink. “I am coming back again for this season,” I said.

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Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com and http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com.

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