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Hirosaki: Petals Starting To Fall

Hanaikada, flower petals fallen on water

Today, I visited Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture for our last report from Japan's largest island of Honshu, before moving on to Hokkaido. The cherry blossom season is over in the southern and central regions of Japan and is now moving towards Hokkaido where opening of the first cherry blossoms (kaika) were reported in Hakodate and Sapporo on April 24 and 25 respectively. Most of the cherry blossoms at Hirosaki had their petals falling, but there were still enough blossoms on the trees to look nice, while some of the later flowering cherry trees were at their peak.

I last visited Hirosaki a week ago, when the mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees were opening. In just a short span of seven days, the flowers have reached their peak and now have their petals falling. However, this stage of the cherry blossom life cycle is also a beautiful sight to see when cherry petal storms (hanafubuki) occur and the inner and outer moats get filled with pink petals.

Today and tomorrow's winds, rain and possibly snow forecast is likely to bring down a large portion of the petals in the castle park, shortening the viewing period of the mainstream Somei Yoshino blossoms. For those who missed the main cherry blossom season, there are a variety of later blooming cherry trees in the Sannomaru area and the botanical garden on the castle grounds. Separate admission fees apply for entry into the botanical garden. The later flowering cherry trees like ukon and ichiyo just started blossoming and should not be greatly affected by the current bad weather. It will be about a week before they reach their peak, just in time for the coming Golden Week holidays.

The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom festival is held until May 5 with festival food and game stalls open and daily illumination from 18:30 to 22:00. During the festival period, there is a temporary rental bicycle stall that is open from 9:00-16:00, and it costs 500 yen to rent a bicycle. Alternatively, regularly departing buses from the station to the castle cost 100 yen and takes about ten minutes.

Started my day along the outer moat where the petals were falling freely
Petals in the water
The trees along the outer moat will be bald before the weekend
Lone duck in the petal moat
Weeping cherry trees at full bloom in the botanical garden
Yoko cherry blossoms at full bloom
Grove of later flowering cherry trees in the botanical garden
Cherry trees and the Sugi no Ohashi along the inner moat
Cherry trees near the keep
The moat is dammed beyond the bridge and visitors can walk along it to see the foundation stones
Petals starting to fall in the castle grounds
Sakura tunnel where the petals have just started falling
I expect the best viewing to remain till this weekend
Festival stalls in the rain
Weeping cherry trees at full bloom around the castle keep
Curtains of blossoms everywhere
Later flowering Ukon cherry tree just opening
Hanami in the rain under a roof
A couple meters from the covered paid picnic area
Japan's oldest Somei Yoshino cherry tree
Another later flowering cherry tree
Sometimes I couldn't tell if it were raining or petalling
Japan's widest Somei Yoshino cherry tree
One of the few Hirosaki Yuki Akari cherry tree in Japan
Cherry trees lining the paths in the San no Maru park
Later flowering Yokohama Hi-zakura cherry blossoms