The 180 year old weeping cherry trees at Kassenba, a short drive out of central Nihonmatsu City, are very popular among visitors during the early to mid April hanami (flower-viewing) season. The bright canola flowers that cover the hills that surround Kassenba like a blanket make its scenery rather unique, and it’s fair to say that it is these striking colours which have led to the area’s popularity.
If you visit Kassenba on a clear and sunny day, you’ll be greeted by the picturesque pink of cherry blossoms in full bloom, the bright yellow flowers of the surrounding hills, and the deep blue of the sky above. If standing in front of the Kassenba weeping cherry trees doesn’t make you fumble for your camera whilst you attempt to take your eyes off the scenery, I don’t know where will!
There are two trees at this famous hanami viewing spot (as can be seen in the photo above), but visitors tend to be enchanted primarily by the pink-purple flowers of the weeping cherry tree that towers over the central area.
Kassenba is lit up at night during cherry blossom season, giving the area a magical, other-worldly atmosphere.
That being said, I learned from some of the photographers at Kassenba that unless you come really early in the morning, there is no way that you will get a photograph of the famous tree that doesn’t have the back of somebody’s head in it. I did find that I was having a similar problem! So you’re likely to have to choose between coming early in the morning to get the best photo, or coming in the evening to see the tree lit-up.
The Kassenba area is surprisingly small. Aside from the trees, food stalls at the foot of the hill, and small exhibition with highly regarded photographs of the trees from over the years, there is not a huge amount to see. However, Kassenba is conveniently located between a number of top cherry blossom spots, so it would be good to use it as a mid-way point between – say – Kasumiga-jo Park and Takizakura.
I have been surprised to find out just how many stunning cherry blossom trees are in Nihonmatsu City, so I would recommend renting a car next hanami season, and driving around to visit as many as possible – the well-know and the obscure. While the city’s most well-known hanami spots can be accessed by public transport – such as Kasumiga-jo Park – Kassenba is pretty hard to get to without a car, as it is a 30 minute drive from Nihonmatsu IC, the nearest exit off of the Tohoku Highway.
If driving to the area, you may feel like you’ve made a wrong turn and have landed in the middle of nowhere. Right up until I reached the Kassenba’s car park, I couldn’t spot anyone on the roads apart from myself, and was starting to panic that I had set my SatNav to a completely different place! But as I pulled up to park, the happy chatting of visitors replaced the hush of the country roads.
Although I visited the area about 1 week too early, the view of the huge tree towering far above me was really mesmerising and beautiful. I would like to come back another year, so I can see it in full bloom.
It is a little hard time coming to see cherry blossom in full bloom 100% accurately… Although the general timings can be estimated, as I wrote about in a previous article, the best thing to do is to call up individual Tourism Associations and ask about whether they are in full bloom or not… Which is a bit hard if you don’t speak Japanese. I will try and post updates on this blog next year!
The Story Behind Kassenba
The weeping cherry trees at Kassenba are affectionately called the “grandchildren of Takizakura” by locals. Takizakura is the huge, weeping cherry tree that has been standing tall for over 1000 years in Miharu Town.
Kassenba is not particularly close to Takizakura – over 20km separates them – but it is only 1 km away from Fukuda Temple, the temple where the weeping cherry tree recognized as Takizakura’s “daughter” stands.
It is said that the branches of the tree at Fukuden Temple used to hang over a road, and became a nuisance to passersby. One day, the offending branches were cut off and tossed into the Ogawa River. A tree began to grow on the banks of the river, and was found by chance by a man who happened to be washing his farming tools in the river after a day of hard work.
He took some small branches back to his home, and his family planted them close to the road approaching their local Inari Shrine, and they grew into these two spectacular trees. I, for one, am glad that he took the initiative to bring those branches back with him!
Kassenba is a 30 minute drive from the closest highway exit (Nihonmatsu IC), as is located in an area with a number of sakura spots, as shown on the map below.
For more information, see here!