by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2010/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
April 9, 2010 - full bloom
Today was the first and only japan-guide cherry blossom report from Kanazawa this season, and I found the cherry trees in the city to be at full bloom. The peak of the cherry blossom season in the city should continue into this weekend.
I arrived at Kanazawa Station in the morning, coming for only a day trip from Osaka on one of the JR Thunderbird limited express trains. From the station I took the Kanazawa Loop Bus to my destination. Today I planned to visit only two cherry blossom spots which are located right beside each other: Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park. The loop bus took me right to the two sites and as soon as we pulled up I could already see many cherry trees that were at full bloom.
From the bus stop I decided to first visit Kenrokuen Garden. The garden is considered one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens in the country, and I think that this high estimation is well deserved. I have noticed that Kenrokuen seems to be particularly popular with Westerners, who I have often found make a surprisingly large percentage of the garden's visitors. From the general reactions of the people I noticed today it seems that I am not the only person who thinks Kenrokuen's acclaim is warranted.
One possible issue for some visitors is that Kenrokuen can get very busy at times, and indeed today there were large crowds that had come to see the cherry blossoms. Personally, I much prefer to visit Japanese gardens when they are calm and there are not too many people walking about. Nonetheless, today I very much enjoyed the cherry blossoms in conjunction with the many features of the garden, such as its paths, ponds, and lookout points.
Both this visit and my visit last year for the April 13, 2009 Kanazawa cherry blossom report there is one spot in the garden that I enjoyed the most. Beside the Hisagoike Pond, near the Mayumizaka entrance that is near the bus stop for the loop bus, there is a number of cherry trees along the perimeter of the garden. What I like most about this area is that it is elevated above the street below and gives nice views onto the city and nearby mountains in conjunction with the cherry blossoms. Both years I had to wait to get a seat on one of the benches in front of the trees.
There is usually an entrance fee for Kenrokuen, but for the one week a year when the cherry blossoms are at full bloom the park is free to enter. Visitors who make it to the garden by this Sunday will also get to enjoy the garden free of charge.
Around noon I decided to leave Kenrokuen and get something to eat. Between the garden and the castle there is a line of shops and food stands that is impressive in its own right as a cherry blossom spot. I bought a small serving of Yakisoba from one of the food stands and ate at one of the table that have been placed under the cherry trees.
Approaching Kanazawa Castle Park from Kenrokuen Garden visitors first pass under the Ishikawamon Gate, and as can be seen below there are a number of cherry trees that line the path to the gate. These trees were very attractive and made the approach to the park an enjoyable little walk.
Perhaps even more impressive than the trees on the approach to the gate were the trees along the castle walls located just to the left. There were a number of large blue tarps laid out for hanami parties on the ground below.
When immediately entering the Kanazawa Castle Park the cherry trees are not nearly as impressive as on the outside. There is a spacious grass field called the Sannomaru Park that had a number of people picnicking today, but there were only a few cherry trees nearby. As for Kanazawa Castle, it was burnt down many times and the main castle keep has not been reconstructed. However, a few impressive structures have been rebuilt, such as storehouses and castle turrets, a few of which can be seen overlooking the Sannomaru Park.
The best cherry trees within the castle park are located just past the Sannomaru Park to the right, and are made up of rows of cherry trees along one of the castle's moats. There were a few other cherry trees scattered around the park and many of them had people seated below enjoying flower viewing parties.
With good weather expected for tomorrow, Kenrokuen Garden and the Kanazawa Castle Park will likely experience one of the busiest days of the year and should be great for travellers who are looking for cherry blossoms.