Cherry blossom viewing: discovering the charm of Japan's springHow to fully experience cherry blossoms in Japan2012.02.

Desirable ways of cherry blossom viewing

The most familiar flower for Japanese is sakura (cherry blossoms). Every spring, people admire cherry blossoms and have a picnic party under the blooming trees. This picnic party is also called "hanami (cherry blossom viewing)" and it is one of the most popular events of spring in Japan. Starting from late March through early May, cherry blossoms across Japan will be in peak bloom in one region after another. Cherry blossoms in Kyushu start blooming earlier than other regions of Japan. And the opening of cherry blossoms moves northward as time goes by. The blossoms will be falling in about one week after the peak bloom . While it is nice to simply appreciate the beauty of the blossoms at the places known for cherry blossoms like Shinjuku Gyoen or Arashiyama in Kyoto, you will have more ways to enjoy cherry blossoms if you visit other popular tourist attractions. If you come to Japan in the cherry blossom season, why not be a bit more desirous and enjoy the different cherry blossom viewing.

Admire Mt. Fuji together with cherry blossoms

The surrounding area of Lake Kawaguchi which is one of the five lakes at the foot of Mt. Fuji is recommended to enjoy both Mt. Fuji, one of the most known mountains of Japan and cherry blossoms. When spring comes, the cherry blossoms bloom beautifully on the small cape called Ubuyagasaki. The cape is on the eastern shore of the lake jutting toward Mt. Fuji. It is a famous site to enjoy Mt. Fuji, the cherry blossoms and the lake all at once. As the lake surface is quiet, you will be able to see "sakasa Fuji" the inverted image of Mt. Fuji reflected on the lake surface if the weather permits. "Sakasa Fuji" is another feature to be seen. The contrast of colors: the white snow-capped Mt.Fuji, the pale pink cherry blossoms and the deep blue lake can be enjoyed also from the Nagasaki Park by the lake. It is a popular viewing spot where you can see the entire line of Mt. Fuji extending to the foot.

The cherry blossoms around Lake Kawaguchi reach peak bloom in mid-April. To get to Ubuyagasaki and Nagasaki Park, you can take a local bus from Kawaguchiko Station that goes around Lake Kawaguchi and the neighboring Lake Sai. There also is a bicycle rental shop and you can rent a bike at a reasonable price. As the shore length of Lake Kawaguchi is rather short and about 20 km, it is recommended to rent a bike and enjoy cycling if the weather is nice. You may want to stop by at the Kawaguchiko Museum on the lakeshore . It exhibits works featuring Mt. Fuji including "Fuji" by Genichiro Adachi.

 
Directions to Lake Kawaguchi from Tokyo
About one and 15-min from Tokyo Station to Otsuki Station by JR Chuo Honsen Line
About 45-min from Otsuki Station to Kawaguchiko Station by Fuji Kyuko Line
Take a local bus "Retro Bus" from the station to go to Ubuyagasaki, Nagasaki Park and the Kawaguchiko Museum.

 
Related Information
Fujikawaguchiko Sightseeing information

Ubuyagazaki
Azagawa/Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi

Nagasaki Park
Oishi/Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi

KAWAGUCHIKO MUSEUM OF ART
3170, Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi
0555-73-2829
9:30 a.m. - 5:00 a.m. (Last admission accepted until 4:30 p.m.)
Closed: Tuesdays (days for preparations/end of the year)
* Open on Tuesdays that fall on national holidays.
Admission: Adults, College students 800 yen/ Junior high school, High school students 500 yen

Yamanashi Prefecture Tourist Association

 

Admire the cherry blossoms on the waterfront while tasting tempura on yakatabune




Yakatabune is a kind of pleasure boat with the Japanese style floor and roof. People enjoy dining or partying on the yakatabune and viewing the scenery outside. From late March through early April, about 330 cherry trees reach peak bloom all at once on the certain section of the banks of Sumida River that runs through the eastern part of Tokyo. How about admiring the beautiful cherry blossom scenery from the yakatabune while enjoying the tasteful dishes and sake? The yakatabune dining menu and price vary from boat to boat. The average price for a course menu including tempura and free drinks is about 10,000 per person. If there are more than 15 - 20 people in a group, the boat is often chartered. The small groups will share one yakatabune on the other hand. There are some boats with an English speaking guide on board. There also is one on which you can see the traditional performances that dates back to the late Edo period (1603 - 1867). One of the performances is Nankin Tamasudare. The performer uses a small screen made by weaving thin bamboo with twine to portray a bridge, mountain, etc. while chanting a rhythmic poem. You can enjoy the performance like a magic show even if you do not understand the language.
The 634-meter-high broadcast tower "Tokyo Sky Tree" will open on May 22, 2012. You can see the tower up close from the boat.

*This photo is an example of food served.
 
Related Information
Yakatabune Tokyo Cooperative Association

 

Admire cherry blossoms at a World Heritage site

In the central part of Nara Prefecture, there is Mt. Yoshino and the entire mountain is part of a World Heritage site. About 30,000 cherry trees cover all along the slope of Mt. Yoshino from the top to the foot. Mt. Yoshino is divided into four areas, Shimo, Naka, Kami and Oku, from the foot to the top. And as the sweeping scenery of those areas are as gorgeous as if to see 1,000 cherry trees at one time, they are called Shimo Senbon (lower 1000 trees), Naka Senbon (middle 1000 trees), Kami Senbon (Upper 1000 trees) and Oku Senbon (inner 1000 trees). When the trees in Shimo Senbon reach peak bloom in early April, the opening of cherry blossoms moves upward to the other areas allowing us to enjoy cherry blossom viewing till the end of April. In Naka Senbon, there is an open space called Gorobei-chaya. From there, you can enjoy the splendid 360 degree panoramic view of cherry blossoms as far as the eye can see.
Mt. Yoshino is valued not only for the cherry blossoms but also as a historic site and is designated as part of a World Heritage site. When you walk about 10 minutes from the Yoshinoyama ropeway station, you will find Kinpusenji Temple. Its main hall Zaodo is a historic building rebuilt in the late 16th century and is designated as a National Treasure. Zaodo has a dignified atmosphere with a forest of pillars of natural trees such as pine trees. There are other historic buildings designated as an Important Cultural Property such as Yoshimizu Shrine which is said to be established more than 1300 years ago and Yoshino Mikumari Shrine which is worshipped as a god that blesses people with children. It is nice to leisurely admire the historic sites as you enjoy the surrounding cherry blossoms that add a color to the scenery.

If you wander off further, there is a scenic site Miyataki Waterfall. The banks of the Yoshino River around this area are made up of huge rocks and strangely-shaped rocks and the flowing river seems to change its color to emerald green, blue and so on. It is a beautiful valley. And if you go even further up along the Yoshino River from Miyataki Waterfall, you will reach to Kuzu-no-sato where Japanese paper, one of the traditional crafts of Japan, is produced. The town is blessed with clean air and clear water which are essential for making paper. And some scenes of paper-making can be seen such as drying the Japanese paper in a yard or placing the bark of Kozo (paper mulberry) in the cold and clear water of the Yoshino River during the winter and early spring.
As there will be traffic control during the cherry blossom season, please check on the traffic information before you leave.

 
Directions to Mt. Yoshino from Tokyo
To get to Yoshino from Tokyo take a bullet train to Shin-Osaka, take the Midosuji Line operated by Osaka Municipal Subway to Tennoji/Osaka Abenobashi Station and then take an express train on the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line to Yoshino Station. It takes approximately 4 hours and 50-min from Tokyo.
Take a 3-min ropeway ride from Senbon-guchi Station, about a 3-min walk from Yoshino Station, to Yoshinoyama Station.

 
Related Information
Mt. Yoshino Tourist Association

Kinpusenji Temple
Yoshinoyama Yoshino-cho Yoshino-gun, Nara
0746-32-8371
7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Open year-round

Admission for Zaodo Hall: 400 yen
10-min. walk from Ropeway Yoshinoyama Station

Yoshimizu Shrine
579, Yoshinoyama Yoshino-cho Yoshino-gun, Nara
07463-2-3024
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Open year-round

Admission:
Adults, College students 400 yen/ Junior high school, High school students 300 yen/
Elementary school students 200 yen

15-min walk from Ropeway Yoshinoyama Station

Yoshino Mikumari Shrine
1612, Yoshinoyama Yoshino-cho Yoshino-gun, Nara
0746-32-3012
1 hour and 15-min walk from Ropeway Yoshinoyama Station

Nara - A journey to the ancient city

 

Feel the thrill of skiing while viewing cherry blossoms

If you want to enjoy winter sport along with a spring charm, namely skiing and cherry blossoms, Yuzawamachi in Niigata Prefecture is recommended. There is Kagura Ski Resort which boasts one of the largest ski resorts in Japan. And in the Kagura and the Mitsumata areas it is possible to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in early spring even when the winter ski season is over. As the runs of the resort are open over a long period of time from late November through late May, it is an ideal place to enjoy spring skiing. And during the limited time of period from mid-March through early May, the resort offers "Sunrise Ski" allowing the skiers to enjoy skiing early in the morning.

Going toward the east for about 20 minutes from Kagura Ski Resort by car, there is Yuzawa Chuo Park.
The park has about 400 cherry trees and the trees reach peak bloom from mid-April through early May. The beautiful cherry blossoms in the park against the snowy mountains in the distance create wonderful scenery. You can enjoy the winter sport in the morning and the cherry blossom viewing in the afternoon. It is a privilege to have such a travel plan that crosses the border between the seasons. A festival called "Hana Matsuri Yuzawa" is held on April 29 every year. There will be stalls and flowers and young trees are sold. The period when the resort is open for spring skiing and "Sunrise Ski" varies from year to year. Please check on the schedule beforehand on their website.

 
Directions to Echigo-Yuzawa Station from Tokyo
About 1 and half hour from Tokyo Station to Echigo-Yuzawa Station by bullet train

 
Related Information
Yuzawa Town Tourist Association

Niigata prefecture tourism guide

Kagura Ski Resort Mitsumata Station
Mitsumata, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata
025-788-9221
Weekdays: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Saturdays and holidays: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

* The operation hours may change for spring skiing season.

Open year-round


About 20-min from Echigo-Yuzawa Station by shuttle bus originating from the Yuzawa Onsen town.

Yuzawa Chuo Park
628-1, Kandatsu, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, Niigata
025-784-1511
About 15-min from Echigo-Yuzawa Station by car
Or take the Joetsu Line from Echigo-Yuzawa Station to Iwappara Ski-jo Station and walk about 15-min.

 

Soak in hot spring while viewing cherry blossoms


There is a place that enables you to kill two birds in one stone; it is where you can ease fatigue by soaking in a hot spring after enjoying the cherry blossoms in full bloom. There are five hot spring towns in Okuhida Onsen-go in the northern end of Gifu Prefecture. One of them is Tochio. In Tochio, you can enjoy both cherry blossom viewing and hot spring within the town. There is a row of cherry trees along the mountain stream called Horadani that runs in Tochio. As the town is located at a high altitude, the cherry blossoms reach peak bloom from late April through early May which is one month later than those at low altitudes. Every year a cherry blossom festival "Tochio Onsen Sakura Matsuri" is held from April 23 to May 5 when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the row of cherry trees is lit up in the evening. You can enjoy fantastic cherry blossom viewing.
During the cherry blossom festival it is also lit up around Koujin-no-yu , an open-air bath close to the festival site. The bath is on the bank along the river that runs through the town of Tochio from east to west. It is a public open-air bath with men's and women's changing rooms. There are only large rocks around the bath. You need to pay 200 yen to get in. You can enjoy the magnificent mountains in front of you and hot spring feeling expansive.

 
Directions to Okuhida Onsen-go/ Tochio Hot spring from Tokyo
Take a bullet train from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station. Take the limited express "Wide View" Shinano to Matsumoto Station. A local bus "Nouhi bus" takes you to Tochio in Okuhida Onsen-go from there. It takes about 4 and half hours from Tokyo.

 
Related Information
Hida Takeyama

Tochio Onsen Sakura Matsuri Tochio Hot Spring
458-2, Tochio, Okuhida onsen-go, Takayama-city, Gifu
3-min on foot from the "Tochio Onsen" stop on the Nouhi bus line

Koujin-no-yu
Tochio, Okuhida onsen-go, Takayama-city, Gifu
8:00 a.m. - 10: 00 p.m. (Mondays and Fridays: 12: 00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.)
Open year-round
Admission: 200 yen
Near the "Tochio Shinryojo-mae" stop on the Nouhi bus line

 

 

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