Kitakami (北上) in Iwate Prefecture, is famous for the more than 10,000 cherry trees planted alongside the Kitakami River in Tenshochi Park. The trees are usually in bloom for one to two weeks around late April and form a beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms that earns the park a spot among the Tohoku Region's three best cherry blossom spots alongside Hirosaki Castle and Kakunodate.
During the cherry blossom season, festival visitors stroll along the park's two kilometer long path which is lined by cherry trees on both sides and covered in a canopy of white blossoms. Food vendors and festival event venues are found at both ends of the path. Visitors can also enjoy the cherry blossoms from the Kitakami River by joining one of the sightseeing boats that depart from the resthouse at the south end of the park (20 minutes, 1300 yen per person).
Just next to Tenshochi Park lies the Michinoku Folklore Village, an open air museum that displays 30 preserved farmhouses and other buildings from different historical periods from the Tohoku Region. The restored buildings are attractively arranged around the park amid forested walkways, ponds and fields. Most of them can be entered and display various household items and tools that offer visitors a glimpse into what traditional life was like in the Tohoku Region.
Near the open air museum's entrance gate stands the Kitakami City Museum. The museum displays additional exhibits of Buddhist art, natural history and the cultural history of Kitakami City and the surrounding area.
Get There and Around
Kitakami and Tokyo are connected by hourly trains along the Tohoku Shinkansen. The one way trip takes three hours, costs around 13,000 yen and is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR East Tohoku Area Pass and JR East South Hokkaido Pass.
From Kitakami Station, it is a 20 minute walk to Tenshochi Park or 45 minute walk to the open air museum. There are also buses (310 yen one way) between Kitakami Station and the park; however, they tend to get stuck in traffic jams during the peak of the season. The park can alternatively be reached in a five minute ferry ride across the river (350 yen one way) during the cherry blossom season.