There is a huge buzz around the coming of the hanami season and to the uninitiated it can seem a little strange. You travel around looking at trees, taking photos of trees, and picnicking under trees...
Yes, and it’s amazing!
Without exaggeration cherry blossoms (sakura) in Japan are stunningly beautiful. They are with us for only a few precious days in the year and then they are gone. As such they have come to become a symbol of life itself.
Hanami literally means "flower viewing", however, it usually refers only to cherry blossom viewing. In Tohoku hanami is best around late April into early May. This means we can usually make a few trips during the Golden Week holidays. However, rain, wind and temperatures all affect the timing of the sakura, so keep an eye on the year’s cherry blossom forecast.
Hanami Viewing Spots
In Akita we are very fortunate to be around some of the best hanami spots in Japan:
- Ogata-mura (Route 298) *Ogata
- Features 11 km of sakura contrasted by yellow “nanohana” flowers below.
- Kakunodate *Kakunodate
- About 400 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees spreading over the 2 km stretch along the river. One of Tohoku’s “top three” hanami spots.
- Odate (Iwagami Fureai no Mori) *Odate
- A nice stop halfway between Kakunodate and Hirosaki Castle with about 3,000 trees.
- Yokote (Mato park in Masuda) *Yokote
- 2,000 (claims the Internet, I am not so sure?!) cherry trees in a hillside park, with views across to Chokai on clear days. Hanami season coincides with the annual “taraikogi” festival, where participants race across the lake in wooden buckets (many of them sinking in the attempt).
- Yokote (Yokote Castle) *Yokote
- Enjoy cherry blossom viewing in the grounds of Yokote Castle. Includes night light-up and food stalls.
- Kitakami (Iwate) *Iwate
- Famous for the more than 10,000 cherry trees planted alongside the Kitakami River in Tenshochi Park forming a 2 km tunnel of cherry blossoms. Another "top three" spot in Tohoku.
- Hirosaki Castle (Aomori) *Aomori
- Premier hanami in Japan. A must see! Over 2,600 cherry trees, more than 80 different species are planted in the park surrounding Hirosaki Castle. During the evening the castle is illuminated. Another of Tohoku’s “top three” hanami sites.