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Where to Find Japan’s Late Blooming Cherry Blossoms

March 25, 2020 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

‘Hanami’, or cherry blossom viewing, is a significant event in the Japanese cultural calendar, but it’s not just Japanese residents who make the most of the occasion.

In 2019 more than 2.9 million foreign visitors flocked to Japan during the month of April, a rise of 0.9 per cent from the year prior.

This year, cherry blossoms are forecast to open earlier than usual due to a warmer than average winter. For travellers worried they’ll miss out on Hanami season, here are three destinations to find Japan’s late-blooming cherry blossoms.

1.Shiraishi River, Miyagi

Shiraishi River is located in Miyagi, a prefecture on the north-east coast of Honshu. Here, 1200 cherry trees line an 8km stretch of riverbank, blooming from early to mid-April each year.
The Shiraishi River is considered one of Japan’s most beautiful riverside Hanami destinations, with the snow-capped Zao Mountain Range providing a unique and dramatic backdrop to the soft cherry trees while you eat, drink and relax under the blossoms.

The area is loved by locals and tourists alike as it offers access to the Shiroishi Castle and Funaokajoshi Park, which was selected as one of Japan’s top 100 Sakura spots. The park has a slope car that takes you through 305-metres tunnel of cherry trees to the parks highest point. Here you can overlook the Shiroishi River and its cherry tree-lined banks winding through the city from above, as well as the 24-metre tall white Kannon Statue at the mountain’s peak.

How to get there: Shiraishi River is a three-minute walk from JR Ogawara Station.

2.Hirosaki Castle, Aomori 

Hirosaki Castle is located in Aomori, Honshu’s (Japan’s main island) northernmost prefecture. Famed as being one of the top three best cherry blossom sights in the whole country, Hirosaki Park is home to 2600 trees and more than 50 different types of cherry blossoms which bloom each year from late April to early May.

Hirosaki Park is well-known for its ‘Sakura Tunnel’, where thousands of cherry blossom trees line the banks of the West Moat of the castle. As the flowers end their blooming cycle, the falling petals cover the waters of the moat, transforming it into a magnificent pink tunnel. At night the cherry blossom trees are illuminated and offer a breathtaking perspective on the Hirosaki Castle grounds.

How to get there: Hirosaki Castle can be accessed from JR Hirosaki Station. The park is a 30-minute walk or a 15-minute bus ride.

3.Takada Castle, Niigata

Takada Castle is located in Niigata, a prefecture on the west coast of Honshu. Takada Park is ranked as one of Japan’s best cherry blossom night viewing destinations, consisting of close to 4000 cherry trees.

One of the most breathtaking locations in the 50-hectare park is the Takada Castle Triple Turret. Known as the park’s symbol, the triple turret sees the castle, moat and cherry trees come together in one frame. At night, the illuminated Takada Castle and cherry trees are reflected onto the waters of the moat, offering scenes one might expect from a fairy tale.

How to get there: Takada Castle can be accessed from JR Joetsumyoko Station. The park is about a 35-minute walk from the station.

*Photos from left
Shiraishi River, Hirosaki Castle, Takada castle

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