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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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2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Report
by raina

Cherry trees beside Matsumoto Castle

Today, I visited Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. The cherry trees at Matsumoto Castle and Koboyama were in full bloom. With the weather forecast to be warm and sunny for the next few days, I expect the blossoms at both places to remain at their peak, up to this weekend. For those who missed the cherry blossom season in Tokyo, Matsumoto is only 2.5 hours away by JR limited express train.

When I at Matsumoto Station, the first thing I heard was the station name being announced. While that is common, a given really, it was funny to hear the female voice recording sing the station name. After being so used to hearing the serious tones of train station staff, it was refreshing to hear the recording sing, 'Matsumotoooo, Matsumotoooo, Matsumoto desu'.

Elsewhere in Japan, Sendai reached full bloom status on April 11, and Scott was there today to report on the state of the blossoms. Head here to read his latest report in Sendai.

Matsumoto Castle
April 16, 2014 - full bloom

Matsumoto Castle, also known as the Crow Castle, was very pretty. The castle is about a 10 minute walk away from Matsumoto Station and is open to visitors from 08:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) and costs 610 yen to enter. There are about 300 cherry trees planted in the castle park and its immediate surroundings. I have heard that the castle is very beautiful at night especially during the cherry blossom season. There is a special light up in the evenings until April 19, from 17:30 to 21:00. The interior of the castle keep is not accessible during the light up, but the grounds are free to enter.

View of the moat and the park from Matsumoto Castle

Flowers at full bloom

View of the castle from across the moat

The stairs within the castle keep were quite steep, especially towards the higher floors. I wouldn't recommend wearing a short skirt or shorts. There were interesting artifacts located on a couple of floors in the castle. When I was in there, I saw English speaking volunteer guides who were introducing the castle to a group of tourists. My favorite part of the castle was the moon viewing room. It was wide with open windows and i could see the moat and the cherry trees in the courtyard at a glance. Outside of the castle, I saw lots of school children on an excursion and local tour groups visiting the castle and enjoying the cherry blossoms at full bloom. It was really cute to see the older children carrying the younger kids to get them closer to the blossoms.

Castle park's cherry trees at full bloom

School children on an excursion

More blossoms

Can't have too many pictures of Matsumoto Castle

I couldn't help smiling at this scene

Koboyama Park
April 16, 2014 - full bloom

Koboyama Park is about a 15 minute bus ride away from Matsumoto city. I felt that it was an easy and close enough side trip, during the cherry blossom season, from Matsumoto city. Note that the buses there and back aren't very frequent, so you'll have to do a little bit of planning. The information center in Matsumoto Station was very helpful and gave me a copy of the bus timetable so I could plan for my trip back.

The main draw for Koboyama Park is the approximately 2000 cherry trees of different varieties, grown on the slopes of the mountain. The top of the mountain (which is easily reached in 5 minutes) is completely devoid of trees, giving us a great view of the city beneath the cherry trees. The graduation of colors was also beautiful, from white to pink, especially now when the cherry blossoms are mostly at full bloom. There is a designated path towards the top of the mountain, as well as several walking trails around the mountain. These trails let you walk amongst the cherry trees, and also see the cherry trees from above. As I mentioned earlier, with the good weather forecast, I expect the views to last till at least this weekend.

View of the surroundings from the top of Koboyama

Cherry tree at full bloom

Dogs want to view cherry blossoms too

The path up to the top of Koboyama

Undulate top

Natural cherry blossom curtain for private cherry blossom viewing picnics

The pink oval behind is Koboyama and its 2000 cherry trees

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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