Fukushima Prefecture is blessed with lush nature and dramatic scenery. As the third largest prefecture in Japan, the climate, seasons and landscapes differ vastly by area. However, there is one season that is spectacular no matter where you may be in Fukushima – spring!
I’m really looking forward to my spending my first spring in Fukushima. I want to visit as many cherry blossom spots as possible across the whole prefecture.
Blossoms start to bloom from the east of Fukushima, where the temperature is warmest, and flower the latest in the west. This means that if visitors come to Fukushima during April and May, it is very likely that cherry blossom will be in full bloom somewhere in the prefecture!
Here is a map demonstrating the order in which cherry blossoms bloom in the prefecture.
Here are my top recommendations for cherry blossom spots!
The beautiful weeping cherry blossom tree at Ogawa-Suwa Shrine has been standing strong in Iwaki City for over 500 years. The branches gracefully stretch across the main area of the shrine, providing a stunning foreground against the red torii gates. The blossom is illuminated by traditional Japanese campfires every night of the cherry blossom season. You can see more information and photos here.
By car: 15 minute drive from Iwaki Chuo Interchange off of the Joban Expressway. Also 15 minutes by taxi from the closest train station (Iwaki Station).
Natsui River Senbon Sakura
Senbon translates as “1000 trees”. As its name suggests, this area is well known for the 1000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees that line both sides of the river. Natsui River is a wonderful location for taking photos or going on a peaceful walk. More info here.
By car: 10 minute drive from Ono Interchange off of the Joban Expressway.
By train: 5 minute walk from Natsui Station (on the JR Ban’etsu East Line).
The Abe family opened this stunning garden to the public as a park in 1959 to allow visitors to enjoy their flowers. In the springtime, over ten types of blossom bloom together, enveloping the park in bright, beautiful colours. The white of the often snow-clad Azuma mountains contrasts sublimely with the flowers, giving visitors the impression of having accidentally wandered into paradise.
When I visited Abe san recently, he spoke about how Hanamiyama Park can be enjoyed with all five senses – the sound of water from rock garden, the feel of the breeze on your skin, the sight and sweet smell of the flowers, and the taste of the fresh spring air.
When I asked him where his favourite spot in the park was, he told me that he had too many to count, and it depended on the weather, the season and the time of day. Visitors can enjoy finding their own favourite spot, or ask for suggestions from the volunteer guides, who can guide visitors in English, Chinese and Korean. See here for more information.
By car: 2km from the Fukushima-Nishi Interchange (Tohoku Expressway). Parking lots are made available during peak seasons.
By bus: Seasonal buses run from Fukushima Station directly to Hanamiyama Park during the peak season (April 1st to 23rd 2017). These buses leave every 30 minutes from Fukushima Station East Exit Bus Stop 6. It takes around 15 minutes to reach Hanamiyama.
One of the three great weeping cherry trees in Japan, the Takizakura tree in Miharu is truly breathtaking. It is estimated to be around 1000 years old, and has been designated as a national treasure. Around 12 metres high, the flowers of the cherry blossom cascade down for metres around the magnificent tree, enveloping visitors in bright flowers. It’s no wonder that its name translates in English as ‘Cherry Blossom Waterfall’. See here for more information.
By car: Takizakura is 7.3km from the Funehiki-Miharu Interchange off of the Ban’etsu Expressway. There is a parking lot that holds up to 850 vehicles, so parking is available, but please be prepared for long queues during the peak season.
By train: The closest station is Miharu Station, 6.3km from Takizakura. From there, visitors can travel by taxi, or take advantage of the Takizakura temporary bus that travels between Takizakura and Miharu Station during the spring. Temporary buses also leave from Koriyama City and Ononii Town (Dates to be confirmed later).
The light colours of the castle walls are complemented by around 1000 cherry blossom trees that decorate the castle and its surrounding park in the springtime. The blossoms can be appreciated from up close, or from above – a sight you can gain access to from the viewing platforms at the top of Tsuruga-jo Castle.
Relax at the traditional Japanese tea house inside the castle walls, or take a walk through the picturesque park before entering the castle and learning about Aizuwakamatsu City’s rich and interesting samurai history. Free English guided tours are available at the castle if booked 2 weeks in advance. You can also rent bicycles at the castle. Check out this website for more information.
By bus: The Haikara sightseeing bus leaves from Aizuwakamatsu Station around every 30 minutes between 08:00 and 17:30. Get off at Tsuruga-jo Iriguchi bus stop, from where it is a 5 minute walk to the castle grounds.
Nicchu Line is the name of the train line that used to run at this site. The train tracks have been closed and converted into 3km long cycling paths, but you can still see the steam train which used to run on this line. 1000 weeping cherry trees stand tall along the Nicchu Line, their branches stretching as far down as the feet of visitors that pass by. At the end of April there are ‘cherry blossom walks’ and ‘walking events’ held here! More info here.
By train: 5 minute walk from Kitakata Station (JR Ban’etsu West Line)
During springtime, a 1km path along the banks of the Kannon-ji river becomes lined with Yoshino and weeping cherry tree blossom. Visitors walking along the river banks may feel like they are passing through a tunnel of blossom. On a bright and sunny day, a visit to Kannon-ji River is a must. That being said, it is worth it to hang around until the evening, when the branches and flowers are lit up with the setting sun, and later with stunning light displays.
By car: 10 minute drive from Inawashiro Bandaikogen IC on the Joban Expressway.
By train: 3 minute walk from Kawageta Station on the JR Ban’etsu West line.
I’m looking forward to seeing you at some of these spots this year!