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Cherry Blossom Report 2014
Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com

2014 Cherry Blossom Forecast - Schedule of upcoming reports - Popular cherry blossom spots
How to do hanami? - Cherry tree varieties - Post your own report

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2014/03/28 - Kumamoto Report
by scott

Kumamoto Castle

Today I headed down to Kumamoto to check out the cherry blossoms around the city's popular hanami spots. The blossoms in Kumamoto officially reached full bloom yesterday, and together with half the prefectures of Kyushu, maintain about a week's lead over Tokyo and Kyoto.

Suizenji Koen
March 28, 2014 - full bloom

The first place I visited this morning was Suizenji Koen. This beautiful garden reproduces a miniature version of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido, the historic road that connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period. About 150 cherry trees are planted in groups around the path that winds around the garden's large central pond. And though you are not allowed to leave the route, there are a few areas underneath the trees that are specifically set aside for hanami parties.

The cherry blossoms around Suizenji Koen have reached full bloom and were some of the best I've seen there. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for this weekend is not very good, and pretty heavy rain is expected on Saturday evening. Hopefully it won't have too much an effect on Suizenji Koen's Somei Yoshino trees, but some of the earlier blooming cherry trees around the grounds will probably have their seasons' cut short.

Suizenji Koen

Full bloom at Suizenji Koen

Izumi Shrine is located inside the garden

Cherry blossoms behind a miniature Mount Fuji

Mini Mount Fuji from the other side

Bridges and hills

Some trees were beginning to occasionally drop petals

This part of the garden was mostly early blooming varieties

Kumamoto Castle
March 28, 2014 - full bloom

Next I took a short tram ride up to Kumamoto Castle, an impressive, albeit newly reconstructed, fortress that towers over the city. The castle is Kumamoto's most famous and popular cherry blossom spot and has over 1000 cherry trees planted around its imposing stone walls.

While there are a few cherry trees around the castle keep, the best places for viewing the blossoms and for picnicking are instead found along the lower walls and circles of defense (maru), especially around the Takenomaru, south of the main citadel; the Minami Ote Turret Gate, west of the main citadel; and along the Bizen Moat and Nagabei outer wall.

Kumamoto officially reached full bloom just yesterday; however, the cherry trees around Kumamoto Castle tend to be more advanced than the city's reference tree. They seemed to be approaching the tail end of full bloom already today, although the petals are not yet falling freely from the trees. Their hold was beginning to weaken though and I fear that this weekend's rain will do some heavy damage.

Kumamoto Castle

Full bloom around Kumamoto Castle

Takenomaru

Fallen petals on moss

During the cherry blossom season (March 23 to April 6, 2014), Kumamoto Castle will extend their opening hours to 21:00 (entry until 20:30), and the castle keep and walls will be illuminated in the evenings from 17:00 to 21:00.

Toward Takenomaru

Hanami parties overlooking the city below

Enjoying the blossoms around Takenomaru

Strong winds knock loose a few petals around the Minami Ote Turret Gate

Bizen Moat

Outside the Nagabei Wall

Along the southern approach to the castle keep

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Hakodate Report
2014/05/08 - Matsumae Report
2014/05/01 - Hirosaki Report
2014/04/30 - Kakunodate Report
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Report
2014/04/23 - Mt. Fuji Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu Report
2014/04/19 - Matsushima Report
2014/04/17 - Takato Report
2014/04/16 - Sendai Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Report
2014/04/15 - Fukushima Report
2014/04/15 - Mount Fuji Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Report
2014/04/11 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/10 - Yoshino Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/09 - Gunma Report
2014/04/09 - Hikone Report
2014/04/08 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/07 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Report
2014/04/05 - Matsuyama Report
2014/04/04 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/04 - Kamakura Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/03 - Fukuoka Report
2014/04/03 - Uji Report
2014/04/02 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Report
2014/04/02 - Kumamoto Report
2014/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Report
2014/03/29 - Kyoto Report
2014/03/28 - Kumamoto Report
2014/03/27 - Fukuoka Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Report
2014/03/25 - Kyoto Report