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Cherry Blossom Report 2010
by japan-guide.com

This is the official japan-guide.com cherry blossom report for 2010. Please visit also our guide to cherry blossoms for more general information about cherry blossoms and this year's forecasts and our schedule of upcoming reports.

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2010/05/13 - Matsumae Report
by schauwecker

The cherry blossom front has finally reached Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, where trees started to open their blossoms last week, several days behind their average schedule due to a cold April. On the final cherry blossom report trip of the year, I will visit two of Hokkaido's most famous cherry blossom spots: Matsumae Castle and Hakodate's Goryokaku Fort.

Matsumae Castle
May 13, 2010 - everything from "still closed" to "end of season"

Today I visited Matsumae, a small city at the very southern tip of Hokkaido. During the Edo Period, Matsumae was the only feudal fief on the otherwise undeveloped island of Hokkaido. Consequently, Matsumae is also the site of Hokkaido's only castle.

Like many other castles across Japan, Matsumae Castle (also known as Fukuyama Castle), has been turned into a cherry blossom spot in modern times. Several thousand trees are planted around the castle keep (a concrete reconstruction from the 1950s), and in the spacious park that extends far into the hills behind the castle.

Attractive walking trails lead through the park behind the castle
Many lawned areas offer picnic spots (on a day with better weather)

Matsumae Park offers a wide range of cherry tree varieties that bloom at different times, resulting in a long hanami season of an entire month. I estimate that about two fifths of the season have passed so far, when I visited today, as some of the earlier blooming trees, such as the Oyamazakura, had already lost most of their blossoms, and the Somei Yoshino, which are less prominent in Matsumae than elsewhere, have started to drop their petals.

The blooming season of the Yamazakura is ending as most petals have fallen and leaves almost fully developed
The Somei Yoshino trees have started to drop their petals and develop their green leaves

Currently just reaching full bloom are the Naden cherry trees, the most numerous among the varieties present at Matsumae Park. The Naden trees are characterized by large, light pink blossoms and should remain spectacular for several days to come.

Naden cherry tree has just reached full bloom

Furthermore, there are also a lot of late blooming cherry trees around Matsumae Castle, including a large number of Kanzan trees, which have not opened their blossoms yet, but will provide visitors to Matsumae with hanami opportunities for a couple more weeks.

The buds of a Kanzan tree

Due to the more intensive look of earlier blooming trees (whose blossoms develop before the leaves) as opposed to the later blooming trees (whose blossoms appear with or after the leaves), most people will find a visit during the first half of the blooming season more exciting than during the second half. Nevertheless, a visit can still be well worthwhile in the later phase of the season.

Since 1988, Matsumae has not been connected to Japan's railway network anymore. Instead, access by public transportation is provided by bus from Kikonai Station (1.5 hours, 1220 yen, one bus every two hours), with some buses operating directly all the way between Matsumae and Hakodate (2.5 hours, 1990 yen, two buses per day).

A view over a sea of cherry trees onto the Tsugaru Straight from the top of Matsumae Park

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List of Posts:
2010/05/14 - Hakodate Report
2010/05/13 - Matsumae Report
2010/05/06 - Kakunodate Report
2010/05/05 - Hirosaki Report

2010/04/25 - Takizakura Report
2010/04/14 - Fujigoko Report
2010/04/10 - Kyoto Report
2010/04/09 - Kanazawa Report
2010/04/08 - Tokyo Report
2010/04/08 - Osaka Report
2010/04/07 - Kyoto Report
2010/04/07 - Kamakura Report
2010/04/06 - Yoshino Report
2010/04/06 - Inuyama Report
2010/04/05 - Tokyo Report
2010/04/05 - Hikone Report
2010/04/04 - Kyoto Report
2010/04/04 - Himeji Report
2010/04/03 - Nara Report
2010/04/03 - Miyajima Report
2010/04/02 - Kyoto Report
2010/04/02 - Hiroshima Report
2010/04/01 - Tokyo Report

2010/03/30 - Nagoya Report
2010/03/30 - Kyoto Report
2010/03/30 - Tokyo Report
2010/03/29 - Osaka Report
2010/03/27 - Kyoto Report
2010/03/26 - Tokyo Report
2010/03/26 - Nara Report
2010/03/26 - Himeji Report
2010/03/26 - Nagoya Report
2010/03/25 - Nagasaki Report
2010/03/23 - Tokyo Report
2010/03/23 - Kyoto Report
2010/03/22 - Kumamoto Report
2010/03/21 - Fukuoka Report