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Home - Travel - Community - scarreddragon
Winter Cherry Blossoms at Joumine Kouen

Travel Reports by scarreddragon view profile of scarreddragon

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December 1, 2012 - Winter Cherry Blossoms at Joumine Kouen

Perhaps you've heard of Sakurayama Park in Gunma Prefecture, home of the famous winter cherry blossoms (fuyuzakura), that bloom in fall and into winter. But have you heard of Joumine Kouen? Sakurayama's smaller, lesser-known cousin, Joumine Kouen across the border in Saitama is a must-see for fuyuzakura and Autumn colors together. If you come early in the day, it is easy to see both Sakurayama and Joumine, as well as some other sights in the area.

Fuyuzakura, the fall- and winter-blooming strain of cherry tree
Joumine Kouen is a park in Kamikawa, Saitama just across the border from Sakurayama Kouen in Gunma Prefecture. In fact, on fine days you can see one from the other, and to get to Joumine, the easiest route is through Gunma and across the dam.

Sakurayama is the more famous of the two, a fact which I believe is partly because it is easier for tour buses from Tokyo and Kanto to get to and park at Sakurayama. Joumine is further down the road, and doesn't have the big parking lot that Sakurayama has. However, this is actually a good thing; where Sakurayama can be a bit crowded on weekends, Joumine was quiet and peaceful. Also, you must pay for parking at Sakurayama, which at Joumine is free. I'd say Sakurayama has the better walking/hiking paths whereas Joumine has the better clusters of trees. And of course, Sakurayama has that beautiful pond and Japanese-style garden, which Joumine lacks.

However regardless of which park is better (and having been to both, they are both pretty great!), since they are close together it is easy to see both in a day and decide for yourself.

A map of Joumine Kouen

Banner celebrating fuyuzakura

Sign with information about the festivities
The fuyuzakura generally bloom from around the end of October through the beginning of December. However I'd say they only truly become worth the trip at the end of November on. The winter blooms are much sparser normally than spring ones, so even in "full bloom" the trees still look a bit bare when compared to spring. So when they first get started, there isn't much to see. Also, by coming in late November to early December, you get the fall colors together with the blossoms, which is a unique sight!

The night light up is from November 1st through the beginning of December (there isn't an exact date listed). On October 28th there was an actual matsuri held, on November 3rd a Rock Concert was held, and on November 10th there was a karaoke contest. So events are held sporadically throughout the season. The poster also points out some other interesting sights in the area, such as the Shimokubo Dam and the Sanbaseki, giant rocks that are famous from the Edo period.

Shimokubo Dam from Joumine Kouen

A carpet of leaves
Although a bit late in the season, there were still some nice colors at the park. Between the fall colors and the winter cherry blossoms, there was a lot to see and take pictures of!

The sun finally made an appearance!

I was trying to be artistic...
There are many viewing platforms to get overall views of the trees, as well as paths between the trees themselves.

One of the viewing platforms
And there were also a lot of opportunities to get the fuyuzakura and the kouyou together as well... which was entirely the point of why we came!

Fuyuzakura with kouyou in the background

And kouyou with fuyuzakura in the background

Enjoying the day

Looking down into the valley
The contrast between the kouyou, the fuyuzakura, and the green was fantastic. A better photographer would be able to do it justice; I, alas, am not that good. But I hope my pictures give you a vague idea of the beauty of the area!

Leaves and light
The light in this area was fantastic, and we were pretty much alone in the area. One thing to note, winter in the mountains means the sun sets VERY early. Already by 3:30 we were losing the light; by 4:00, it was behind the mountains. So if you are planning to go, make sure you are aware of that and plan your trip accordingly!

A day well spent
All in all, I was very happy to go to Joumine for the first time, and am glad we went there instead of Sakurayama. If this is my last kouyou opportunity of the season, then I can conclude that it was a great one, and look forward to winter fully. So, in summary:

Kouyou: check!
Fuyuzakura: check!
Winter Illuminations: coming up next!

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List of Posts:
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 1: Gifu City and Gujo Caves
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 2: Gujo City and Shirakawa-go
2014/08/22 - Gifu Road Trip Part 3: Hida Takayama
2014/07/02 - Rainy Season around Tokyo: Hydrangea Flowers
2014/05/27 - Road Trip: Yamadera, Yamagata
2014/05/26 - Road Trip: Yonezawa, Yamagata
2014/05/19 - Roadtrip Fukushima's Ouchijuku
2014/05/16 - Roadtrip: Aizu-Wakamatsu
2014/04/30 - Climbing Gunma's Mt. Myogi
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 2: Tokyo Report
2014/03/09 - Flower Weekend 1: Gunma Plums
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 1
2013/10/30 - Onioshidashi Koen and Mt. Asama Part 2
2013/10/30 - Cosmos and Mt. Myogi
2013/10/01 - Fall Flowers: Higanbana
2012/12/01 - Winter Cherry Blossoms at Joumine Kouen
2012/11/18 - Annual Coco Harvest Festival
2012/11/11 - Ueno Cat cafe ''Nekomaru''
2012/11/10 - Tokyo Design Festa vol.36 at Odaiba
2012/11/04 - Utsunomiya, Tochigi Gyoza Festival

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