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Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report

To round up my short tour of the Tohoku Region, I headed to Akita Prefecture to check out the cherry blossoms in Kakunodate today. The city is famous for its cherry blossoms, especially around the Samurai District where many weeping cherry trees were planted, and along the Hinokinai River where many cherry trees were planted. The cherry trees I saw today were all at full bloom, and look set to remain at their peak for the next few days or so. With beautiful weather forecast for the next few days, I expect the city to be crowded with visitors especially over the coming weekend.

Kakunodate City is about a 45-minute bullet train (shinkansen) ride from Akita and is easily doable in a day trip or a half-day trip if you leave early. The main tourist spots are a 10 to 15 minute walk from Kakunodate Station and there are signs showing the way. During the cherry blossom season, the city has a cherry blossom festival (sakura matsuri) with food stalls along the riverside, and evening light up along the Samurai District. This year, the festival will carry on till May 6, the end of the Golden Week holidays.

Hinokinai Riverside
April 23, 2015 - full bloom

Hinokinai River runs through Kakunodate and there are about 400 cherry trees planted along the banks of part of the river, creating a two-kilometer long cherry tree tunnel. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the station to the main festival area along Hinokinai Riverside, and that was where I headed. The cherry trees here were at full bloom today, and it was a gorgeous day to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine and open blossoms.

I saw some visitors there taking advantage of the beautiful weather to picnic along the riverbank, and it wasn't long before the busloads of tour groups arrived to enjoy the sights. The festival food stalls were open and making brisk business, as were the lunch box stalls and convenience shop nearby with people getting food for hanami. I also saw local elementary school kids on a school excursion and they were tasked with introducing the history of Kakunodate to random groups of visitors, which was absolutely cute to watch and listen.

Cherry trees along the riverside
Branches creating a web of blossoms
Half a cherry blossom tunnel along the riverbank
Festival food stalls before they got busy
Narcissus flowers growing on the riverbank
Bunches of blossoms at full bloom
Cherry blossom tunnel
Hinokinai River
Ladies surrounded by flowers

Kakunodate Samurai District
April 23, 2015 - full bloom (weeping cherry trees)

Moving on to the Samurai District, a short walk from the riverside, the weeping cherry trees here were also at full bloom and crowded with people. Despite the road being open to vehicular traffic, I did not once hear any honking even when people were standing in the middle of the road, obstructing traffic to take pictures of the trees. The weeping cherry trees in the Samurai District gave the area somewhat of a austere feel, creating a delicate balance of wabi-sabi when coupled with the architecture of the residences. Quite a different feeling compared to seeing the Somei Yoshino cherry trees, a common cherry tree variety, in large numbers at full bloom.

Weeping cherry trees
They look so fragile, so delicate
Close up of some weeping cherry blossoms
More trees in the area
This old man held up traffic on both sides for a while trying to get a picture for his group
Rickshaw puller beneath a weeping cherry tree

I also had enough time for a quick hike up to the former site of Kakunodate Castle for panoramic views of the city and the river below. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk from the end of the Samurai District to the top of the hill where the castle once stood.

View from the former castle site, you can see the cherry trees along the river from here
While this cherry tree gently weeps its blossoms over me
A little souvenir from Kakunodate Station

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List of Posts:
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report