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Cherry Blossom Report 2012
Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com

2012 Cherry Blossom Forecast - Schedule of upcoming reports - Post your own report
Popular cherry blossom spots - How to do hanami? - Cherry tree varieties

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2012/04/29 - Kakunodate Report
by sean

I realize that I haven't been using the word "sakura", the Japanese term for "cherry blossoms", at all this season. When a Japanese mentions "sakura", he or she usually refers to the Somei Yoshino cherry trees or their blossoms, because they are by far the majority and many agree that they look best. Some places, for example the Samurai District of Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture, have many Shidarezakura cherry trees. These are weeping cherry trees, and you might have noticed that the "zakura" part of the word is actually "sakura" with the first sound changed to match the words in front.

Kakunodate is one of the Tohoku Region's top three cherry blossom spots, along with Hirosaki and Kitakami. During an average year, by this time around the Golden Week Holidays, the cherry trees at Kakunodate would have been at or close to their peak. This year however, due to relatively severe weather, the trees have delayed opening their flowers; weather agencies have been forecasting that the sakura here would start opening today.

Hinokinai River

Kakunodate Samurai District
April 29, 2012 - Opening (10-50%) (Shidarezakura)

My grand aunt told me one day when I was a kid that, if you said to a peacock that it's not pretty, it will spread its feathers and show you what's pretty. Obviously I quickly found out that that doesn't work, but for some inexplicable reason, I found myself trying it at some of the Shidarezakura buds earlier today:

"You're not pretty!" I yelled, pointing an accusing finger at some innocent random bunch. What ensued was an embarrassing moment of epic proportions: The 65% or so unopened Shidarezakura blossoms simply ignored me, the 35% or so that were open gleamed in the sunshine as if they were laughing at me, and 100% of the passer-bys within a 50 meter radius stopped to stare curiously as if I were some talking ape. "Kirei desu ne (They are beautiful, aren't they)" I blurted, and quickly walked away to disappear within the crowd of thousands. Awkward.

Tour groups start pouring in
State of Shidarezakura
Some came in traditional clothes and posed for others to take pictures
Little girl gets to know nature
This car came before 10:00. From 10:00 to 16:00 (during sakura festival) only pedestrians are allowed on the main street in the Samurai District

Kakunodate Riverside
April 29, 2012 - Opening (10-50%)

A kind old man single-handedly made my day better when he approached and said: "you must be a professional photographer." He then looked at my pictures and went: "kirei desu ne". I suddenly had the feeling that the only reason why he had that impression was because I was holding one camera in each hand. Ok, at least I Look like a professional. Wink.

Both banks of the Hinokinai River are lined with seemingly unending rows of sakura trees. I was feeling perturbed when trying to decide on the state of the blossoms: I walked back and forth the long stretch three times. At first, it seemed that the sakura were only at a just-opening stage. However, the more I walked and observed, the more they seemed to have blossomed. It was almost as if those petty pretty flowers were playing a trick to get back at me for my sudden outrage earlier.

Well, making a more serious conjecture, it could be the warm day which was encouraging the blossoms to bloom even as I walked. With the sakura and shidarezakura set to reach full bloom in a day or two, it would be a beautiful Golden Week here at Kakunodate.

Many enjoying a picnic
Majority of the buds are looking full and ready to open soon
Sunday + Golden Week + Sakura Season + Kakunodate = flood of tour buses
Sakura festival will go on till May 6
My lunch at a festival food stall
Visitors enjoying a performance
Many were seen fishing by the river. I wonder how one of them got to the middle of the river.
A man placed his soft toy nicely for a picture. He was kind enough to let me take one too

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List of Posts:
2012/05/09 - Sapporo Report
2012/05/08 - Hakodate Report
2012/05/07 - Hirosaki Report
2012/04/30 - Hirosaki Report
2012/04/29 - Kakunodate Report
2012/04/28 - Takizakura Report
2012/04/28 - Kitakami Report
2012/04/28 - Aizu Report
2012/04/28 - Hiraizumi Report
2012/04/25 - Mount Fuji Report
2012/04/25 - Sendai Report
2012/04/24 - Fukushima Report
2012/04/18 - Tokyo Report
2012/04/17 - Kyoto Report
2012/04/16 - Yoshino Report
2012/04/15 - Kanazawa Report
2012/04/15 - Tottori Report
2012/04/14 - Kyoto Report
2012/04/14 - Osaka Report
2012/04/14 - Himeji Report
2012/04/13 - Tokyo Report
2012/04/12 - Yokohama Report
2012/04/12 - Kamakura Report
2012/04/11 - Kyoto Report
2012/04/10 - Hiroshima Report
2012/04/09 - Tokyo Report
2012/04/09 - Kyoto Report
2012/04/07 - Osaka Report
2012/04/06 - Tokyo Report
2012/04/06 - Kyoto Report
2012/04/06 - Nagoya Report
2012/04/04 - Fukuoka Report
2012/04/03 - Tokyo Report
2012/04/03 - Kumamoto Report
2012/04/02 - Kagoshima Report
2012/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2012/03/31 - Tokyo Report
2012/03/22 - Tokyo Report
2012/03/15 - Tokyo Report