Francois' Japan Blog
by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2011/05/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate

Cherry blossoms at Hakodate's star shaped Fort Goryokaku

After a series of cherry blossom reports from the Tohoku Region on April 29 and May 1 and May 2, Schauwecker and I have followed the cherry blossoms to Japan's northernmost region and the last place to find flowers: Hokkaido. Today we explored the most famous cherry blossom sites of Hakodate, and within the next few day will write our final report of the season from Sapporo.

Hakodate is located along the southern coast of Hokkaido, and as such is the one of the first places on the island to see the cherry blossoms open and then reach full bloom. At the moment the flowers are still approaching full bloom, but should reach their seasonal peak within the next couple of days. The progression of the flowers has been faster this year than it was last year. Schauwecker visited the city during full bloom over a week later in the year on May 14, 2010.

Hakodate's Asaichi morning market

After arriving at Hakodate Airport, Schauwecker and I went straight to the city's morning market (held daily from the early morning until noon and located beside JR Hakodate Station). The morning market suffered considerable damage from flooding caused by the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami, but today we found the area has been completely repaired and brought back to normal.

A late breakfast of sea urchin and salmon roe at the market

Hakodate Park
May 6, 2011 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

Hakodate Park is located at the foot of Mount Hakodate, and is one of the country's first Western style parks. With a small zoo and a children's playground, the park is a great place to take one's kids. There are a few hundred cherry trees scattered across the grounds, which are currently approaching full bloom. Between 50 and 60% of the cherry trees' flowers have opened, and the park should reach full bloom within the next couple of days.

Hakodate Park
One of the park's rides passes by some cherry blossoms
Some of the park's flowers
Flowers opening on the trunk of a tree

Fort Goryokaku
May 6, 2011 - approaching full bloom (50-80%)

The second stop of the day could be considered Hokkaido's most famous cherry blossom spot. Fort Goryokaku is a star shaped citadel built at the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867). It was converted into a public park in the early 1900s and over a thousand cherry trees were planted along the star shaped moat and across the grounds. The fort is covered in attractive green space and dense rows of cherry trees, whi hold thousands of flowers overhead. Beside the fort stands the 107 meter tall Goryokaku Tower, which has a great observation deck overlooking the fort.

The flowers of Fort Goryokaku are not as advanced as those of Hakodate Park and are about 50% open on average, though some trees are significantly more advanced and other significantly behind. The fort's trees should reach full bloom in a couple days and stay attractive into the beginning of next week.

Cherry blossoms around the fort's moat and the 107 meter tall Goryokaku Tower
Visitors to the fort walk under the branches of the cherry trees
The fort has a lot of green space for relaxing
A close up of one of the branches

An additional attraction of today's visit to Goryokaku was our first look at the newly reconstructed Magistrate Office at the center of the fort. During Schauwecker's visit last year on May 14, 2010, the building was still undergoing construction. It was opened to the public a few months later and now displays the wooden architecture and tatami rooms as they appeared at the time of their construction in the mid 1800s.

Fort Goryokaku's reconstructed Magistrate Office
Inside one of the formal sections of the office

Today was my first visit to Goryokaku, and I must say that I was impressed with the fort as a cherry blossom spot. The grounds have a very nice park-like atmosphere and were not too crowded. Travelers in the area should consider paying the fort a visit, although a forecast for bad weather in the next few days may disrupt some of this year's peak cherry blossom viewing period.

Hanami parties just starting at around noon at Fort Goryokaku

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List of Posts:
2011/09/01 - Final Post
2011/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2011/05/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2011/04/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu
2011/04/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2011/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2011/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2011/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2011/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2011/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2011/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2011/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/02/11 - Shiretoko Fantasia 2011
2011/02/11 - Asahikawa Winter Festival - by night
2011/02/10 - Asahikawa Winter Festival - by day
2011/02/09 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by night
2011/02/08 - Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi 2011
2011/02/07 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by day

2010/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2010
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/24 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2010/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2010/10/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2010/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kirishima
2010/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2010/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2010/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2010/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2010/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagasaki
2010/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2010/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2010/01/23 - Wakakusa Yamayaki

2009/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2009
2009/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Light Up
2009/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2009/11/22 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Ohara
2009/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Higashiyama
2009/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Kurama
2009/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2009/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2009/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Akita-Komagatake
2009/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kamikochi
2009/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2009/06/18 - Biking the Shimanami Kaido
2009/06/01 - Gunkanjima
2009/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2009/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2009/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kobe
2009/04/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2009/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2009/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nara
2009/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kobe
2009/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2009/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/03/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2009/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2009/01/19 - Bears in Hokkaido

2008/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kamakura
2008/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Lake Akan
2008/08/18 - Miyajima Trip
2008/06/09 - Post Towns
2008/05/08 - Baseball Game
2008/04/14 - ASIMO and Aoyama Cemetery
2008/04/08 - Ninja Restaurant