As we ease into mid April, the cherry blossom front line is heading towards the north and to places in higher elevations. The northern cities of Akita and Aomori in the Tohoku Region reported the opening of their first blossoms (kaika) yesterday and today respectively. Warm weather most of last week meant that many of the cherry trees in central and western Japan have reached the end of the season with more petals on the ground than on the trees.
Today, I headed to the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region which is about 1000 meters above sea level to check out some of the area's popular cherry blossom spots. I found that the cherry blossom season had already begun, and with warm weather forecast for the rest of the week, I expect full bloom to be reached before the coming weekend and the best viewing period to be from April 19 to 27.
My first stop for the day was the ever popular Chureito Pagoda. The pagoda is most popular during the cherry blossom season when Mount Fuji can be seen together with the sakura blossoms. Kaika was announced on April 14, and today, I found the cherry trees around the pagoda to be just under the halfway mark to their best while the cherry trees planted along the slopes beside the pagoda to be a day or two to their peak. The relatively warm weather forecast for the next few days should encourage the yet unopened buds to open and I expect best viewing to be from April 19.
There is a sakura festival at the Arakurayama Sengen Park, where Chureito Pagoda is located, until April 23. During that time, a handful of festival stalls can be found near the base of the shrine.
Moving on to the Ubuyagasaki Peninsula right by the Kawaguchiko Ohashi Bridge, I found the few cherry trees here to under the halfway mark to their best. The small peninsula offers nice views of Mount Fuji in combination with Lake Kawaguchiko and cherry blossoms. Like at Chureito Pagoda, I expect the rest of the buds to flower in the next two or three days, and best viewing to be from April 19.
Northern Shores of Lake Kawaguchiko
Finally, I headed to the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko. I found the cherry trees here to be the least developed of the three places I visited today. There were only a small handful of open blossoms along the shoreline while the trees closer to the road were more developed. However, the closed blossoms are only a day or two away from opening, and potentially allowing for full bloom (mankai) to be reached before the end of this weekend.
A sakura festival is held by the main road of the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko until April 26. During this period, food and craft stalls will be open from 10:00 till 17:00 while the cherry trees will be illuminated from sunset until 21:00.