by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
The cherry blossom season this year has been somewhat early in most cities, with the flowers opening a few days earlier than the average year. This was more pronounced in the northern cities where the flowers opened and reached full bloom about a week earlier than normal. As such, while we usually have cherry blossom reports all the way through the first week of May, today's report from Sapporo, Hokkaido, is our last one for the 2015 cherry blossom season. I hope that you have enjoyed reading our cherry blossom updates this year and stayed tuned for our autumn color reports in the later half of this year.
Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido, and is about three and a half hours by limited express train from Hakodate where I was yesterday. The opening of the first blossoms (kaika) in the city was reported on April 22 this year and full bloom (mankai) was reached on April 26, four days later.
Sapporo has been enjoying warm weather with temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius over the past few days. It reached a high of 24 degrees Celsius when I was there today, and it was interesting to see those in sweaters and others in sleeveless tops and shorts. I visited two popular cherry blossom spots in the city, Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine, and Odori Park. For those who are considering a weekend trip to Sapporo to see some blossoms, you may just be too late.
Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine
April 30, 2015 - petals starting to fall
Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine are located side by side, and are usually visited together. The closest station to the park and shrine is Maruyama Koen-mae Station, and from there, the park can be reached in a five-minute walk. I headed to Hokkaido Shrine first, and saw that the cherry trees that lined the main approach to the shrine had petals falling in the slightest breeze. These cherry trees are of the Ezo-yamazakura variety, different from the Somei Yoshino, the most commonly seen cherry tree variety with numerous trees across Japan.
In Maruyama Park, I saw people picnicking and preparing for a brunch or perhaps an early lunch barbecue. Open fires are allowed in the section of the park closest to the entrance and that was where the most people laid out their picnic mats. The cherry trees here had petals falling like at Hokkaido Shrine, and I'm afraid that the trees may be beyond peak by this weekend.
April 30, 2015 - beyond peak
My last stop for today was Odori Park, which is a long park that serves as the main site of the Sapporo Snow Festival, and is not far from Sapporo Station. The trees I saw here were beyond peak, and there were more petals on the ground than on the cherry trees. However, all was not lost as there were other flowers planted at either ends of the park, tulips and pansies on the one side and magnolias on the other. There were also plenty of trees and greenery in the park as well as kids play areas in the middle. I saw lots of people sitting along the benches that line the sides of the park enjoying this warm spring weather and watching the world go by.