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3 Famous Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Tohoku


From March to May every year, cherry blossoms bloom in many areas of Japan. Other than the well-known cherry blossom viewing spots such as Ueno Park in Tokyo and Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto, there are lots of other famous cherry blossom spots scattered around Japan. In this article, we will be focusing on the Tohoku area, and introduce some of Tohoku's top cherry blossom viewing spots, such as Hirosaki Park (Aomori), Kitakami Tenshochi Park (Iwate), and the samurai residence in Kakunodate (Akita). Some spots even hold a cherry blossom festival during the blooming season of the cherry trees! Please refer to the article if you visit Japan, especially Tohoku region in the spring!
※All information and prices listed are accurate as of March 2021

 

(1)Kitakami Tenshochi Park(Iwate)
(2)Hirosaki Park/ Hirosaki Castle (Aomori)
(3)Samurai District in Kakunodate(Akita) 


Tips & Highlights of viewing Cherry Blossoms in Tohoku 

The cherry blossoms in the Tohoku region usually begin to bloom from early April to mid-April, and they are in full bloom until early May. The average temperature in April in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture is about 10.1℃. Even though it's spring, it gets cold in the morning and night, so be sure to bring an extra layer of clothing that is easy to put on and take off as necessary when you are viewing the cherry blossoms!
Additionally, when you go to the park to see the cherry blossoms, be sure to take your trash, such as empty lunch boxes and sweet wrappers, back home with you.It is also considered bad manner to take a spot in advance where it is prohibited or to break a branch from the cherry blossom trees. There may be other rules as well depending on the venue! Follow the rules at each viewing spot and enjoy the cherry blossoms while they’re full bloom.

 

(1)Kitakami Tenshochi Park  (Iwate)


"Kitakami Tenshochi Park" is located on the banks of the river that runs through Kitakami City in Iwate Prefecture. This is one of the leading cherry blossom viewing spots in Tohoku, which has been selected as one of the "100 Best Cherry Blossom Spots" in Japan. Rows of cherry blossom trees stretch as long as 2km from the Sango Bridge. It is said that there are around 10,000 cherry blossoms of about 150 species in the garden, which covers an area of 293 hectares. Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms are in full bloom around mid-April, and Kasumi-zakura cherry blossoms are in full bloom around early May, so various cherry blossoms can be enjoyed depending on the season. The Kitakami Tenshochi Cherry Blossom Festival, which is held from early April to mid-April and from early May to mid-May, is packed with tourists that are there to witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms. 
※The details for the 2021 event are currently being adjusted. Please check the official website for the latest information.

 

During the cherry blossom season, the main highlight of this spot is probably the approximately 300 colourful Koinobori (carp streamers) swimming above the Kitakami River! Koinobori is a carp design drawn on paper, cloth, non-woven fabric, and other materials, made to pray for the growth of boys, and they flutter in the breeze. Additionally, a tourist boat also operates during the cherry blossom season! Viewing cherry blossoms from the water gives you a different type of experience full of elegance. We also recommend taking a sightseeing horse-drawn carriage creating a nostalgic atmosphere. The cherry blossoms are illuminated at night, so why not enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms all day long?

If you go to Iwate prefecture to see the cherry blossoms, you should definitely try the famous noodle dishes! "Morioka Chilled Noodles" is a chilled soup made with beef bones, topped with tough noodles, vegetables, and kimchi. "Jajamen" is thick, chewy noodles topped with meat miso, cucumber, green onions, and more, and it is eaten while being mixed. There are lots of unique local dishes such as "Wanko soba" where you can eat bite-sized portions of soba in a bowl and you can eat as many bowls as you like until you are satisfied, so please try it! 


To get there, take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station for about two and a half hours and then get off at Kitakami Station. It is about 20 minutes on foot from Kitakami Station to Sakuranamiki Iriguchi (near Sango Bridge). Rental bicycles are also available during the cherry blossom viewing season in April. The area around the Sango Bridge is packed with visitors annually, so do avoid to drive there. You can also go from JR Kitakami Station to the excursion site by ferry. The ferry runs from the riverside on the east side of JR Kitakami Station during the season annually.

 

(2)Hirosaki Park/ Hirosaki Castle(Aomori)

Hirosaki Park is based on the site of Hirosaki Castle, a castle with a keep built in 1611. In the park, approximately 2,600 cherry trees of 52 species are planted, including the weeping cherry trees (cherry trees where the branches grow hanging down), but most of the trees are mainly the most common cherry tree in Japan, "Somei Yoshino". It is also famous as a site to appreciate the oldest Yoshino cherry tree in Japan.
Moreover, in recent years, there is a spot in the park that becomes a viral topic annually due to the photos looking excellent on social media - the "Hanaikada (flower raft)" in outer moat. The moat is covered full with cherry blossom petals, so it looks just like a "cherry blossom carpet”!
※The "Hanaikada" can only be seen slightly after the full blooming season, so do take note of the timing if you wish to see it!

The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival is held annually from late April to early May. During the festival period, there are around 200 food stalls selling local dishes, such as the classic Japanese confectionery "Dango", strawberry candy, and the well-known black konnyaku (a kind of street food made by pickling square konnyaku in a black sauce) are lined up under the eaves. At night, the magical atmosphere of the castle and the cherry blossoms can be enjoyed.
※The details for the 2021 event are currently being adjusted. Please check the official website for the latest information.

While walking up and down looking at the cherry blossoms, it is recommended to stop by "Iwakiyama Shrine", of which the main shrine is designated as an important cultural property of Japan, and "Tsugaru-han Neputa Village", which exhibits a huge Neputa (※Giant, lighted lanterns used at the famous Nebuta Festival, held throughout Aomori Prefecture). Hirosaki is also known as a region that produces most of the apples in Japan, so if you like sweets, why not try "apple pie" or you can even purchase baked apple desserts as souvenirs?

To get there, take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station, then change to the limited express "Tsugaru", ride for about 30 minutes, and then get off at Hirosaki Station. Hop on the bus from the bus terminal of Hirosaki Station and get off at the bus stop in front of Hirosaki Park.

 

(3) Samurai District in Kakunodate(Akita)


Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture, was once a town that prospered as a castle town, and is a popular spot where historical townscapes such as samurai residences still remain. The streets that are lined with samurai residences are blooming with fern cherry blossoms during the cherry blossom season. 


Moreover, be sure not to miss the row of cherry blossom trees at Hinokinaigawa Tsutsumi, which is right next to this street!
Approximately 400 Yoshino cherry trees stand along the river for about 2km. This area has been designated as a national scenic spot. The Sakura Festival is also held from April 20th to May 5th annually.
※The details for the 2021 event are currently being adjusted. Please check the official website for the latest information.

 

When it comes to sightseeing in Kakunodate, going to see the samurai residences comes to mind. The direct descendants still continue to live in the one and only "Ishiguro residence" in this area, and you can tour the inside of the building. Why not visit these valuable historic sites while cherry blossom viewing, such as the "Kakunodate Historical Village Aoyagi residence" where tour of the armoury and museum can be enjoyed, as well as a meal at a teahouse or restaurant? To get there, take the Shinkansen from Tokyo for about 4 hours, then get off at JR Kakunodate Station, and then walk for around 15 minutes.

 

Refer to the following for more information on the facilities mentioned in this article.

https://www.japan.travel/en/destinations/tohoku/
https://www.tohokukanko.jp/en/index.html

 

About sightseeing spots and passes in Tohoku

Recommended animal spots in Tohoku for families with children
https://www.japan.travel/en/my/little-splurge-travel-2/recommended-animal-spots-tohoku-families-children/
A Prefect Pass to get around Hokkaido and Tohoku!The JR Tohoku-South Hokkaido Rail Pass
https://www.japan.travel/en/my/enjoy-smart-trip-travel-passes/prefect-pass-get-around-hokkaido-and-tohoku-jr-tohoku-south-hokk/

Michinoku Sakura
https://michinokusakura.com/index-en/
Kitakami Tenshochi Park
https://visitiwate.com/article/4713?redir
Hirosaki Park
https://www.hirosakipark.jp/en/
Kakunodate
https://tazawako-kakunodate.com/en/

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