Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report

A sea of cherry blossoms and a mountain range from the castle ruins park

Today I continue the cherry blossom report from Morioka, the capital of Iwate prefecture, in the Tohoku region. Full bloom in Morioka was announced officially on April 21 and the views didn't disappoint when I was there.

Takamatsu Pond
April 23, 2014 - opening (10-50%)

My first stop for today was Takamatsu Park, easily one of the more beautiful places I've been to. It is also one of Japan's top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots. Takamatsu Park is about a 15 minute bus ride (220 yen) from Morioka Station. Being a little further away from the city center, the cherry blossom season is a little slower. There are about 800 cherry trees planted in the park with most of them around the pond.

Near the entrance of the park
These blossoms will be at their peak in a few days
Paddle boats also available for rent

Takamatsu Park is built around Takamatsu Pond. The pond has a circumference of 1.4 kilometers and there is a walking course around it, which is easily completed in about 20 minutes. It seemed to be a popular exercise course amongst the locals as I saw many retirees on their morning walk. In addition to the walking course around the pond, there are also short walking trails up a small hill where you can enjoy more great views and see more cherry trees as well as other flowers. On clear days, Mount. Iwate can be easily seen from the park, making for a beautiful backdrop. I also found out later that Takamatsu pond is also a pit stop for migrating swans from Siberia. But unfortunately, I didn't see any when I was there.

I saw a few early blooming cherry trees that were at full bloom in the park. However, most of the cherry trees were only 10-50% opened while most of the cherry blossoms towards the back of the park were still in buds. With good weather forecast till this Saturday, the cherry trees should reach full bloom in the next few days and the blossoms still in buds a few days later. The park is having a cherry blossom festival all the way through till end of golden week, May 6. During this time, it will also be lit up in the evenings from 18:00 till 21:00.

These will open soon
You can see the mountain range better on a clearer day
Towards the back of the park, and the walking course on the other side
A short hill you can walk up to have more great views
A mash of early flowering cherry blossoms
The shidare cherry tree at full bloom

Morioka Castle Ruins Park
April 23, 2014 - full bloom

After Takamatsu Park, I headed to Morioka Castle Ruins Park. The castle ruins park is about a 20 minute walk from Morioka Station, or if you take the local community bus, it takes about 10 minutes and costs 100 yen. There were significantly more people here and the cherry trees were at full bloom. With good weather forecast till Saturday, the cherry blossoms should stay at their peak till at least this weekend.

I saw blue sheets laid out in preparation for cherry blossom viewing parties, a couple of street performers, and festival food stalls in the wide event space. There was also a big shidare cherry tree by the side of the castle ruins in full bloom at most people missed. Like Takamatsu Park, the castle ruins park is having a cherry blossom festival all the way through till end of golden week, May 6. During this time, it will also be lit up in the evenings from 18:00 till 21:30.

Full bloom at the castle ruins park
Fresh, young and sturdy blossoms
That's a bullet train between the cherry blossoms and the mountain range
Shidare cherry tree that had few visitors
Close up of the shidare flowers

Ishiwarizakura
April 23, 2014 - full bloom

Not far from Morioka Castle Ruins Park is the Ishiwarizakura tree. It is a Edo-higan cherry tree that split a rock as it grew. The tree is estimated to be about 360 years old and has a height of about 10 meters. According to the local news, the split is 5 centimeters wider compared to last year. The tree is located in the driveway of the city courthouse and the private road was closed off to cars when I was there. Visitors can still have an unobstructed view of the tree from behind the gate even if the courthouse is closed. The tree is also illuminated in the evenings from sunset till 21:00.

The condition of the tree this year is not very good. There aren't as many blossoms as previous years and resulting in a sparse looking full bloom. I was surprised when I saw the tree as the split was a lot smaller than I expected, considering the size of the tree.

The split in the rock is just below the middle of the trunk
Close up of the blossoms and new leaves sprouting
View of the tree from the back with elementary school children on excursion

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List of Posts:
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report