Cherry Blossom Report 2013
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2013/05/08 - Matsumae Report
by scott

Matsumae Castle (also known as Fukuyama Castle)

Nearly two months since the first cherry trees opened in Kyushu, this year's cherry blossom front has finally landed in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island. While the blossoms opened much earlier than normal across most of the rest of the country, the trees around Hokkaido are about a week later than in an average year, mostly due to uncharacteristically cool temperatures in recent weeks.

Matsumae Park
May 8, 2013 - just opened (0-10%)

Today we paid a visit to Matsumae, an old castle town on the southernmost point of Hokkaido. During the Edo Period, Matsumae was the only feudal fief that was established on the island and as a result it is home to Hokkaido's sole castle. Matsumae Park is located on the former castle grounds and extends quite far up into the hills. The park includes a reconstruction of the original castle keep, several temples and museums, and a reconstructed Edo Period village.

While the usual Somei Yoshino cherry trees are present, the most numerous species found around the park are the local Naden Zakura. These progress on a similar schedule as the Somei Yoshino and both only just opened a few days ago on May 6th. Overall the trees were still in the very early stages today and probably won't really fill out until later this week.

People picnicking around Matsumae Park

A Somei Yoshino tree in front of Matsumae Castle

The Somei Yoshino blossoms are just beginning to open around the lower parts of the park

300 year old Kechimyaku Zakura from which the Naden descend from

Close up of some Naden blossoms

There is a huge range of cherry trees planted around the park that includes over 10,000 trees of around 250 different varieties. Many of these are located in two special groves that serve as repositories for hundreds of different types of cherry trees. Consequently, there is a long cherry blossom season around Matsumae that usually extends from late April to late May.

Most of the trees around the repository groves (Sakura Mihonen) haven't opened yet

Virtually all of the trees are labeled with little wooden placards

There are also a lot of later blooming trees around the park which probably won't start to open for another few weeks, quite possibly extending this year's cherry blossom season into early June. A cherry blossom festival will be held at the park until May 19, during which time several special events and performances will be held and food vendors and festival games will be set up around the park. In the evenings the cherry trees around the castle keep will be illuminated until 21:00.

Matsumae is not accessible by train. Instead, there are buses between Matsumae and Kikonai Station (1.5 hours, 1220 yen, one bus every two hours), and two daily direct buses between Matsumae and Hakodate (2.5 hours, 1990 yen one way, 3420 yen round trip).

The blossoms were less advanced further into the park

From the top of the park you could see the Tsugaru Strait and Honshu Island off in the distance

If you go up the trails into the mountain behind the park you'll come across early blooming Oyama trees and some Yamazakura

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List of Posts:
2013/05/09 - Hakodate Report
2013/05/08 - Matsumae Report
2013/05/02 - Hirosaki Report
2013/05/01 - Kakunodate Report
2013/04/30 - Kitakami Report
2013/04/18 - Sendai Report
2013/04/17 - Takayama Report
2013/04/15 - Fukushima Report
2013/04/12 - Matsumoto Report
2013/04/11 - Kyoto Report
2013/04/10 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/04/10 - Hakone Report
2013/04/10 - Kanazawa Report
2013/04/09 - Yoshino Report
2013/04/08 - Kyoto Report
2013/04/08 - Tokyo Report
2013/04/05 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/04/04 - Kyoto Report
2013/04/04 - Gunma Report
2013/04/03 - Takamatsu Report
2013/04/02 - Osaka Report
2013/04/02 - Hiroshima Report
2013/04/01 - Tokyo Report
2013/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/29 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/28 - Gunma Report
2013/03/28 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/27 - Osaka Report
2013/03/27 - Fukuoka Report
2013/03/26 - Nagoya Report
2013/03/26 - Kamakura Report
2013/03/26 - Okayama Report
2013/03/25 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/24 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/23 - Kagoshima Report
2013/03/22 - Kumamoto Report
2013/03/21 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/21 - Fukuoka Report
2013/03/20 - Kyoto Report
2013/03/17 - Tokyo Report
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Report
2013/02/28 - Kawazu Report