Cherry Blossom Report 2014
Official cherry blossom reports by japan-guide.com

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2014/04/30 - Kakunodate Report
by scott

Cherry blossoms along the Kakunodate Riverfront

Picking up from where Raina left off, today we continued our Tohoku Region cherry blossom reporting with a visit to Kakunodate in northern Akita Prefecture. Also known as a "Little Kyoto", the refined Kakunodate has a beautiful preserved samurai district, and together with Kitakami and Hirosaki, is one of the Tohoku Region's top three cherry blossom spots. A cherry blossom festival, which includes food stalls and live performances, will be held along the Kakunodate Riverside until May 5, 2014.

Kakunodate Samurai District
April 30, 2014 - petals starting to fall (weeping cherry trees)

Our first stop this morning was to Kakunodate's former samurai district where about 80 samurai families resided during the Edo Period. The samurai imported cherry trees from Kyoto and would compete with each other to grow the most beautiful trees. As a result, the area is filled with around 150 large weeping cherry trees whose branches drape over the quite roads through the district.

These trees tend to bloom a little earlier than the regular Somei Yoshino trees and usually reach their peak right around Golden Week. This year the weeping cherry trees were right about average, and opened a little over a week ago. The blossoms were starting to fall today but look like they should be nice for at least another few days.

The famous view of cherry blossoms in the Kakunodate Samurai District

This far up north the weeping cherry trees often have some green leaves even during full bloom

Full bloom around the preserved samurai residences

Fallen petals strewn about the walkways

It wasn't particularly crowded out today, but there were still quite a few people and cars getting in each other's way as they made their way through the district

Visitors could take rickshaw tours of the district

Delicious Inaiwa Udon for lunch

Kakunodate Riverside
April 30, 2014 - full bloom

After visiting the trees around the samurai district, we headed just a few dozen meters west to the banks of the Hinokinaigawa River where about four hundred Somei Yoshino cherry trees line a two kilometer stretch of the riverside. Visitors can walk through tunnels of cherry blossoms, while open lawns along the grassy banks provide plenty of nice spots to picnic.

The Somei Yoshino trees usually bloom a few days later than the weeping cherry trees, and this year they opened on the 26th and reached full bloom just yesterday. The blossoms looked to be right at the peak of the peak today, although some areas were already experiencing some of the first cherry blossom blizzards (hanafubuki). They should remain at their best for a few more days, which makes it a good time to visit Kakunodate as you will be able to see the trees around both the samurai district and the riverside park around their respective peaks.

Kakunodate Waterfront

The petals were just beginning to fall along the river

Food stalls around the entrance to the riverside park area

Live monkey performance

Cherry blossom tunnel

Walking back along the water

This year we also checked out the site of Kakunodate's former castle which stood on a small mountain overlooking the town below. At the top, which is an easy a 10-15 minute walk from the samurai district, is an observation point from where you can admire the view of Kakunodate's cherry trees from above.

View of Kakunodate from the mountain top site of the city's former castle

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Hakodate Report
2014/05/08 - Matsumae Report
2014/05/01 - Hirosaki Report
2014/04/30 - Kakunodate Report
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Report
2014/04/23 - Mt. Fuji Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu Report
2014/04/19 - Matsushima Report
2014/04/17 - Takato Report
2014/04/16 - Sendai Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Report
2014/04/15 - Fukushima Report
2014/04/15 - Mount Fuji Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Report
2014/04/11 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/10 - Yoshino Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/09 - Gunma Report
2014/04/09 - Hikone Report
2014/04/08 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/07 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Report
2014/04/05 - Matsuyama Report
2014/04/04 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/04 - Kamakura Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Report
2014/04/03 - Fukuoka Report
2014/04/03 - Uji Report
2014/04/02 - Tokyo Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Report
2014/04/02 - Kumamoto Report
2014/04/01 - Kyoto Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Report
2014/03/29 - Kyoto Report
2014/03/28 - Kumamoto Report
2014/03/27 - Fukuoka Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Report
2014/03/25 - Kyoto Report