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Aizu: Petals Starting To Fall

Bushels of cherry blossoms surrounding Aizu Wakamatsu's Tsurugajo Castle

The cherry blossom season is now moving its way through northern Japan as around the are quickly reaching their peak timing. While blossoms around northern Tohoku (in places like Aomori, Akita and Iwate) are still in the process of opening this week, southern Tohoku is now just passing its peak.

I headed today to Tohoku's southernmost prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture to check on the state of the cherry blossoms in the beautiful Aizu region. Just a few days after catching Sendai's blossoms at the peak (only 150 kilometers north of Aizu), I found the sakura around Aizu today in the midst of a huge blizzard of falling petals.

Despite the rather strong wind and on-and-off rain today, the trees around Tsuruga Castle, Aizu's most famous attraction (and most impressive cherry blossom viewing spot), still looking rather full and near peak. Walking through the castle grounds, the trees closer to the castle keep itself were losing their petals most quickly, while around the outer moats, the trees were only just starting to drop petals.

The sakura lining the path leading to the bridge over the eastern inner moat were gorgeous today
Many cherry trees outside the inner moat were still near full bloom, just starting to drop petals
Big, fluffy sakura
Tsuruga Castle surrounded by hundreds of sakura trees
Tsuruga Castle, showing off its unique red-tiled roof to compliment the white and pink cherry blossoms
The sakura trees inside the inner moat were losing petals quickly today in the strong wind and on-and-off rain
Like a fresh coating of snow
The blossoms could stay relatively nice and full for a more couple days if the strong wind and rain over the weekend don't finish them off too quickly
Traditional-styled banners flying in the wind around booths set up for the blossom viewing
Gorgeous colors around all around the castle grounds
Enjoying the day

With the blossoms still looking great today, I would like to say that this weekend could be a perfect last chance to catch the sakura here while it's still quite pretty. However, the strong winds I encountered today are forecast to stay pretty gusty for the next few days and rain is forecast for this Sunday, threatening to blow down a lot of the blossoms into fennel-colored nubs. If you're planning a visit for the weekend, Saturday might be the safest bet.

The trees around the grounds will be illuminated at night until 21:30 as long as the blossoms are still there through May 8 (until 20:30 after the petals have all fallen).

A large grove of near-full bloom cherry trees on the outside of the moats on the south side had tons of space for hanami
Playing amongst the petals
Petals flying in the wind around the mighty chilly Aizu Municipal Swimming Pool
View from the top of the castle's keep
Walking through a blizzard (of petals) in the rain
View from the top with plenty of sakura trees in sight in around the grounds
Aizu swag: got me an Akabeko phone strap (the adorable red cows are a traditional handicraft in Fukushima Prefecture). I imagine if it could speak, it would have a cute lisp.