After hearing so much about Hanamiyama, the spectacular park that overlooks the Azuma mountain range, I had been looking forward to seeing it in the springtime, in all of its glory.
During the spring, Hanamiyama, and the surrounding scenery, explodes with colour and beauty.
I have always associated the Japanese custom of hanami (flower viewing) with cherry blossom. Because of this, whenever I think of hanami, I think of light pinks and a dainty cherry blossom flowers. But at Hanamiyama, there is so much to see than just cherry blossom!
I’m not very knowledgeable about different types of flowers, so I translated the names of some of the flowers we saw during our trip. They include Yoshino cherry blossom (someiyoshino), double cherry blossom (yaenozakura), peach blossom (momo), flowering peach blossom (hanamomo), white magnolia (hakumokuren), Japanese quince (boke), Japanese allspice (roubai), among many others.
I visited Hanamiyama by bus from Fukushima Station. During peak cherry-blossom viewing time, there are frequent temporary buses that go between Fukushima Station and the park. The bus stop was easily sign-posted and there were main guides helping people figure out where to line up. See here for access information to the park.
On arriving at Hanamiyama, I was surprised at just how different the scenery was to my previous visits in September and February – it was unrecognisable! No matter where you looked, beautiful bright pink and yellow flowers blanketed the fields and hillsides.
There were so many places to take photos from that I did wonder quite a few times during the walk to the actual park (about a 10 minute walk from the bus stop) whether I had actually been walking in the park the entire time without realising it. I wasn’t sure how the scenery could get any better.
After entering the park, and starting on the 1 hour walking route, I came to the conclusion that, despite the beauty of the surrounding fields and hills, the flowers and foliage within the grounds of Hanamiyama is on a whole other level.
There were so many different types of flowers, and the curving shapes of the path up the hill that stands at the centre of Hanamiyama means that it is exciting to try and guess what kind of flower you might meet at the next turn or bend.
The 1-hour course took us a little longer because we took a lot of photographs on the way up, but it didn’t feel like it dragged on or was too long. Being outside under the warm sun, smelling the light scents of the different blossom passing past me on the wind, hearing bird song – it was so lovely that I was hoping that it didn’t end.
From the top of Hanamiyama, we had a quick rest, took photographs and planned our route down using the visitor maps that we received upon entering the park.
There were many people eating their lunch and hanging out at the top of the hill, and a few areas on the way up and down where people were eating packed lunches. However, there are no areas to lay a tarp or blanket on the ground and have a picnic, as visitors tend to do in huge parks.
On the way down, we passed through the sakura tunnel, which is one of the key photo spots for visitors.
There were a lot more people enjoying Hanamiyama on the day of my visit than I was expecting. However, it didn’t feel crowded or overwhelming. This is probably because there are so many different routes and ways that you can explore the park, and some quieter areas which appear to have yet to be discovered by the majority of visitors!
I honestly thought that Hanamiyama could never live up to the stunning photographs I had seen over the last 8 months, but it was so much better than could be captured in any number of photos.
I can now understand why Mr Abe, the owner, loves this place so much that he decided to hold his wedding reception in the park, on a day with sakura in full bloom, just as they were during my visit.
Plan your trip
My photos do not do it justice at all, so you’ll have to go and see it for yourself! You might find these pages useful for planning your trip to Hanamiyama. Hope to see you there next year!