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

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2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report

While Scott was in the Fujigoko region today and you can read his report here, I headed north to the Tohoku Region and checked out the cherry blossoms in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. The cherry blossom season has ended in Tokyo and Kyoto, and the Tohoku Region is the place to go if you want to see cherry blossoms in the coming week.

Yamagata and Akita cities both reached full bloom (mankai) on April 15, while Morioka reached full bloom today (April 16). I expect this weekend to be perfect for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) in these places if you are in the area.

Shiroishi Riverside
April 16, 2015 - petals falling

I started my day at the Shiroishi Riverside, an eight kilometer long stretch of the Shiroishi River lined on both embankments by nearly 1200 cherry trees about 30 minutes south of Sendai by train. The train from Funaoka Station to Ogawara Station also runs along part of this cherry tree lined area and it was beautiful to see from the train as well. I covered the section of the riverside between Funaoka and Ogawara stations, and the cherry trees had petals falling when I was at the riverside today, but still looked full and very attractive. I expect the trees here to remain attractive till at least this weekend.

From Ogawara Station, it is about a three minute walk to the riverside. There is a sakura festival on this end of the riverside until April 23, and the cherry trees around the area are lit up from 18:00 to 22:00. Additionally, sightseeing boats ply the riverside from 10:00 to 16:00, allowing visitors to see the cherry trees from the water. One trip takes about 30 minutes and costs 1000 yen.

I saw cherry tree after cherry tree as I walked towards the next station, Funaoka Station. It was gorgeous to see as the rows of trees created a cherry blossom tunnel of sorts. There were also groups of morning walkers and tourists enjoying the morning blossoms and relatively sunny weather in the morning. While visitors can also walk along the riverbanks, they were a little muddy from rain and I found my shoes to be covered in a mix of mud and fallen petals. However, there is a paved walkway beside the riverbank that makes for a more comfortable walk and to which I switched to halfway through.

Part of the riverside near Ogawara Station
Petals starting to fall off slowly, but surely
Cherry blossoms with festival stalls in the back
Sakura tunnel along the riverbank
Paved walkway towards Funaoka Station
View of a section of the area from the top, the river cannot be seen here

Tsutsujigaoka Park
April 16, 2015 - petals starting to fall (Somei Yoshino)
April 16, 2015 - full bloom (weeping cherries)

My next stop for today was Tsutsujigaoka Park, one stop east of Sendai Station. The western end of the park has a variety of cherry trees planted on the grounds, and thanks to the good weather, the park was crowded with hanami-goers picnicking on blue sheets under the cherry trees. There were also festival food stalls lined up on the one side that were popular with the vistors.

While the Somei Yoshino, the most numerous and commonly seen cherry tree, had petals falling, the weeping cherries were at full bloom and are expected to remain attractive for the next few days. I expect the park to be crowded this weekend with lots of hanami revelers taking advantage of the warm and mostly weather.

Entrance to the park
Weeping cherries at Tsutsujigaoka Park
Street lamp and sakura at full bloom
Lamps along the park
Weeping cherry blossom petals starting to fall
Pink weeping cherries at full bloom
Food stalls by the side
All dressed up for hanami
Picnicking amongst cherry blossoms

Shiogama Shrine
April 16, 2015 - full bloom (Somei Yoshino)
April 16, 2015 - full bloom (weeping cherries)
April 16, 2015 - still closed (late blooming varieties)

My last stop for the day was Shiogama Shrine, a large Shinto shrine about ten minutes on foot from Hon-Shiogama Station. It is believed to be about 1200 years old and has over 300 cherry trees of around 30 different varieties.

Most of the cherry trees were at full bloom when I was there except for the late blooming varities, including the Shiogama Cherry, a cherry variety unique to the shrine, that were still in their buds. I expect the blossoms at full bloom to remain beautiful for at least the next few days before their petals start to fall and the flowers in buds to develop more over the coming week.

Due to the many varieties of cherry trees present at the shrine, the cherry blossom blooming season is prolonged and flowers can be seen over a longer period of time. I saw groups of visitors picnicking in the small garden at the front of the shrine, and later, a large high school group on excursion to the shrine. All these visitors made the shrine bustle with energy and movement that made it a different shrine experience for me.

Cherry blossoms at full bloom at Shiogama Shrine
Somei Yoshino cherry tree at full bloom
Shiogama cherry blossoms still in buds
Part of the shrine grounds with the Matsushima Bay in the background
Inside the shrine area
Feeding some flighty pigeons
Pockets of color
Picnicking in the small garden surrounded by flowers

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List of Posts:
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