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

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2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report

The cherry blossom season this year has been somewhat early in most cities, with the flowers opening a few days earlier than the average year. This was more pronounced in the northern cities where the flowers opened and reached full bloom about a week earlier than normal. As such, while we usually have cherry blossom reports all the way through the first week of May, today's report from Sapporo, Hokkaido, is our last one for the 2015 cherry blossom season. I hope that you have enjoyed reading our cherry blossom updates this year and stayed tuned for our autumn color reports in the later half of this year.

Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido, and is about three and a half hours by limited express train from Hakodate where I was yesterday. The opening of the first blossoms (kaika) in the city was reported on April 22 this year and full bloom (mankai) was reached on April 26, four days later.

Sapporo has been enjoying warm weather with temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius over the past few days. It reached a high of 24 degrees Celsius when I was there today, and it was interesting to see those in sweaters and others in sleeveless tops and shorts. I visited two popular cherry blossom spots in the city, Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine, and Odori Park. For those who are considering a weekend trip to Sapporo to see some blossoms, you may just be too late.

Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine
April 30, 2015 - petals starting to fall

Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine are located side by side, and are usually visited together. The closest station to the park and shrine is Maruyama Koen-mae Station, and from there, the park can be reached in a five-minute walk. I headed to Hokkaido Shrine first, and saw that the cherry trees that lined the main approach to the shrine had petals falling in the slightest breeze. These cherry trees are of the Ezo-yamazakura variety, different from the Somei Yoshino, the most commonly seen cherry tree variety with numerous trees across Japan.

In Maruyama Park, I saw people picnicking and preparing for a brunch or perhaps an early lunch barbecue. Open fires are allowed in the section of the park closest to the entrance and that was where the most people laid out their picnic mats. The cherry trees here had petals falling like at Hokkaido Shrine, and I'm afraid that the trees may be beyond peak by this weekend.

Yin and Yang as I walk towards Hokkaido Shrine
Ezo-yamazakura blossoms
Weeping cherry tree at the front of the shrine
That's a real bird, not a decorative one
Walking along one of the trails between Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine
Festival stalls getting some business in the morning
Main picnicking area in Maruyama Park
I thought they were playing golf from afar, but it turned out to be selfie sticks upon closer inspection

Odori Park
April 30, 2015 - beyond peak

My last stop for today was Odori Park, which is a long park that serves as the main site of the Sapporo Snow Festival, and is not far from Sapporo Station. The trees I saw here were beyond peak, and there were more petals on the ground than on the cherry trees. However, all was not lost as there were other flowers planted at either ends of the park, tulips and pansies on the one side and magnolias on the other. There were also plenty of trees and greenery in the park as well as kids play areas in the middle. I saw lots of people sitting along the benches that line the sides of the park enjoying this warm spring weather and watching the world go by.

Cherry trees looking quite bald
Yep, more petals on the ground than on the tree
Different cherry tree varieties with their petals falling
Magnolias near Sapporo City Museum
An art installation/slide for kids and all who are young at heart
Tulips and pansies with Sapporo Tower in the background

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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