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The Best Sakura en Route the Tohoku Shinkansen

February 25, 2021 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

Springtime is perhaps the most enchanting time to visit Japan. The whole country comes to life from late March to April as the weather finally warms up and the delicate flowers of cherry blossoms spring into bloom.

If you are planning a getaway to see the cherry blossoms, make your way North from Tokyo with JR East on the Tohoku Shinkansen to the Tohoku Region’s top three cherry blossom viewing spots ranked by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). Whether you have been to Japan before and want to explore somewhere new – or it’s your first time but you want to do something different, the Tohoku Region might be the ‘undiscovered’ destination you have been looking for.

Note: Due to its cooler climate, the cherry blossoms of Tohoku bloom from mid-April, with the northernmost coming into bloom in early May.

Iwate Prefecture’s tunnel of pink

3 hours from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen in Iwate Prefecture’s Kitakami City you can find Tenshochi Park. It is located along the banks for the Kitakami River and is renowned as one of Tohoku’s top three cherry blossom viewing spots.

The 29,300-m² park houses somewhat 10,000 cherry trees. The branches of the trees cover the promenade alongside the river, forming a canopy of pink blossoms when in bloom. Every spring a cherry blossom festival is held from mid-April to early May in the park, allowing visitors to enjoy the festival foods. Kitakami River is also decorated with over 300 colourful carp shaped streamers as well as the blossoms. For something a little extra, there are horse-pulled carriage rides along the promenade, and as dusk sets the cherry blossoms are lit up, setting the mood for a blissful night-time experience.

How to get thereAfter disembarking from The Tohoku Shinkansen’s Kitakami Station, you can get to the park in 20 minutes by foot.

Sakura and Samurai

Right up in Northern Tohoku in Akita Prefecture is the historic castle town Kakunodate, another of Tohoku’s top three cherry blossom viewing spots. With a nickname as the little Kyoto of Tohoku, Kakunodate houses a two-kilometre radius district that consists of former samurai residences and many buildings boasting well-kept traditional Japanese architecture.

Being even higher north, the springtime kicks in a little later in Akita, with late April to early May the prime time to see the blossoms. Kakunodate is known for its weeping cherry blossom trees, with blossoms more vivid in colour than other cherry blossoms that create a strong contrast against the black walls of samurai residences. When the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, you can take in the view of them throughout the city from the lookout at the hillside park where Kakunodate Castle once stood.

How to get there: In 20 minutes by foot from the Akita Shinkansen’s Kakunodate Station.

A local icon and its best blooms
Last but not least, is Hirosaki Castle, the final of JNTO’s top three cherry blossom viewing spots. The castle is located in the most northern prefecture of Japan’s main island, Aomori Prefecture, with the castle’s grounds, known as Hirosaki Park, home to 2,600 cherry blossom trees which include over 50 different types.

The iconic castle’s moat is lined with cherry blossom trees which bloom each year from late April to early May. The mote has been named ‘Sakura Tunnel’, where thousands of cherry blossom trees line the banks of the west moat of the castle. As the flowers reach the end of the blooming cycle, the falling petals which fall on the water transform the moat into a magnificent pink tunnel. At night, the cherry blossom trees are illuminated with lights from below, offering a breathtaking perspective on the Hirosaki Park grounds.

How to get thereHirosaki Park is a 15-minute bus ride from JR Hirosaki Station.

Safety comes first
To keep passenger’s health as a priority, all of JR East’s facilities on and off board are regularly disinfected. The Shinkansen’s air conditioning and ventilation systems replace the air onboard every six to eight minutes, so you can kick back and travel in comfort and safety. Find out more about JR East’s COVID prevention measures here.

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