Today I headed to the Fuji Five Lakes area, about two hours west of Tokyo, to check out the state of the cherry blossoms there. While the cherry blossoms have mostly finished around Tokyo and Kyoto, the cherry trees at the Fuji Five Lakes area were at their peak when I was there today. I expect the blossoms to stay their best tomorrow, but the forecast rain for Sunday and Monday may cause some of the petals to fall prematurely.
Moving further north into the Tohoku Region, Joe is in the Aizu today, and you can read his report here. Akita just reported the start of their cherry blossom season on April 14 and visitors who want to see sakura flowers in the coming weeks should start heading up north.
My first stop of the day was Chureito Pagoda, from where Mount Fuji can be seen. The cherry trees at the ever popular spot were at full bloom and the place was crowded with photographers and visitors alike. Despite arriving what I thought was early before 7:30, the parking spaces nearby were already full and everyone had to walk up the 397 steps to the pagoda. I expect the flowers here to remain at their best for the next few days, and the forecast rain on Sunday and Monday should not affect the blossoms too drastically.
Not far from Chureito Pagoda is the Ubuyagasaki Peninsula in Lake Kawaguchiko. The cherry trees are not far from the Kawaguchiko Ohashi Bridge that crosses the lake and were at full bloom when I was there. One of the main attractions near the group of cherry trees when I was there today, was a very obedient dog which posed for pictures patiently!
Next on my list was the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko, one of the best places to see cherry blossoms with Mount Fuji in the background. There are a few hundred cherry trees planted along the promenade by the lake and all the cherry trees were at full bloom today. I saw many visitors enjoying the flowers and snapping lots of pictures as I was. The local cherry blossom festival will be held until April 17, and during that time, the trees are also illuminated in the evenings from sunset until 21:00.
My final stop for the day was the touristy Oshino Hakkai. There are cherry trees planted along the riverbanks and I found the trees here to be under the halfway mark to full bloom. For those who missed the sakura season in Tokyo, Oshino Hakkai is a place worth considering to chase some blossoms later in the season. The Oshino Hakkai area contains many restaurants and shops, and in addition to the eight ponds the area is famous for, there are also traditional-looking thatched roof houses to be seen as well.