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Kakunodate: Full Bloom

Cherry blossoms along the Hinokinai River

Rounding up this week with a Friday vist to Kakunodate, a popular cherry blossom spot in the Tohoku Region. The former castle town in Akita Prefecture has weeping cherry trees in the samurai district and a river lined with hundreds of cherry trees. The flowers are usually at their best during Golden Week in late April and early May, but this year, the flowers have blossomed earlier due to warmer temperatures.

Today, I found that the weeping cherry trees were at full bloom, and the commonly seen mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees along the Hinokinai River almost at full bloom, thanks to the warm weather over the past few days. I expect the blossoms to remain at the best through this weekend and at least for the next couple of days after that. The Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival will continue until May 5 and the cherry trees in the samurai district will be illuminated from sunset to 22:30, while the riverside will be lit until 24:00. Festival food stores can be found between the samurai district and the riverside.

The samurai district is about one kilometer from the station and can be reached in an easy walk through the sleepy town in about 15 minutes. The weeping cherry trees were planted in the gardens of the various samurai homes and made for a beautiful scene as they draped over the fences. Some of the weeping cherry trees had some petals falling, but the blossoms were at their peak and should remain at their best for the next couple of days.

Huge weeping cherry tree in the Samurai District
Close up of the blossoms
Rickshaw rides are offered in the samurai district with the rickshaw pullers providing commentary of the area
The blossoms that got a lot of attention
Everyone's learnt how to share the road here with minimal honking
Cherry trees at the Denshokan Museum
These flowers are so light yet extremely strong at the same time
Sea of pink in the samurai district
Weeping cherry blossoms
Don't think I've seen a prettier smoking area. Pity the blossoms though

From the samurai district, I made my way up to the hill where the castle keep used to be. The uphill walk took about 20 minutes and visitors who make the trek can choose to take the faster route up the stairs or go with the more gentle slopes as I saw many elderly visitors doing. There are no remains of Kakunodate castle left on the hill but one can get a bird's eye view of the cherry trees along the Hinokinai River.

Looking down the samurai district and Hinokinai River
Somei Yoshino cherry trees line the riverbank

I wasn't expecting the cherry trees along the Hinokinai River to be at full bloom today as the flowers just started opening about three days ago. The warm weather over the last few days must have sped up the process and I am pleased to report that the trees that go on for about two kilometers along the river should reach full bloom status by the end of today.

Full bloom along the river
Lots of space for picnicking
Strolling under the blossoms
Blossoms that opened recently looking very fresh and strong
Starting to get crowded towards the middle
A different cherry tree variety still progressing towards full bloom
Moving into the festival food stall area
Festival food stalls filling the air with delicious smells
Sakura stamen makes my skin crawl a little
Visitors enjoying the day out
Sakura tunnel that is illuminated from sunset to 24:00 until May 5
The view that goes on and on and on (for about two kilometers)