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Sendai: Full Bloom

Full bloom along the Shiraishi River near Sendai

As the cherry blossom season is winding down in southern Japan and in Tokyo and Kyoto, the blossoms around central Japan's mountainous Chubu Region and northern Tohoku Region are rapidly entering their best viewing season.

In Chubu, the Mt. Fuji area's blossoms opened on April 15 (where raina is reporting today, and Matsumoto is at its peak now. In Tohoku, the "sakura front" is rolling through the southern parts of the region now (including Fukushima and Sendai, which are both at their peak now), while the more northern reaches' blossoms are expected to start opening this week.

Today, I chased the blossoms north to the Sendai area where the season reached its best viewing late last week.

Shiraishi Riverside

Petals Starting To Fall

My first stop today was at the lovely Shiraishi Riverside, an eight kilometer-long stretch of land along Miyagi Prefecture's Shiraishi River, about 35 minutes south of Sendai by train. In mid-April every year, the riverside's nearly 1200 cherry trees explode into bloom along the river banks here, making for some breathtaking scenery.

Today, the blossoms were stunningly abundant and still at their best viewing, but the blossoms' petals had just begun falling (possibly since yesterday), and were starting to become more vulnerable to the winds that were picking up when I was there. If the wind doesn't become too strong, or tomorrow's forecasted rain too intense (which, unfortunately, is a strong possibility), the blossoms could still be attractive for another few days.

The blossoms at the Shiraishi Riverside were at their best viewing today
Blossoms everywhere you look
A Kannon statue perchaed atop Funaokajoshi Park, a great cherry blossom spot on its own
Like walking through the set of a Ghibli movie
The blossoms were just past full bloom today, and were just starting to shed their petals

I walked along the river starting at Funaoka Station this morning and ending at Ogawara Station, taking about an hour at a leisurely pace. Even on a Monday morning, plenty of sakura-watchers were setting up tarps to enjoy hanami (blossom viewing). The riverside area near Ogawara Station was particularly bustling and hosted food stalls as well as sightseeing boats giving visitors a chance to see the sakura from the water (10:00–16:00, 30 minutes, 1000 yen).

The sakura will also be lit up at night while still in bloom from 18:00 to 22:00.

A train ambling down the Tohoku Main Line
Meet Musubimaru, Miyagi Prefecture's lovable rice ball samurai!
Sakura wonderland
Moar flowrz??
Just got a fax: request for moar flowrz: Approved
A quick hanafubuki -- falling petal blizzard
Heading home for some lasagna, I presume
Best riverside hanami spot? Quite possibly...
No shortage of hanami-ers out enjoying the day
Riverboat rides are available for those looking for a fresh perspective
What's not to enjoy?

Tsutsujigaoka Park

Full Bloom

After a lovely morning in Shiroishi, I made my way back to Sendai's city center to check the conditions there. Sendai is home to several city parks that host a number of impressive cherry blossom viewing spots. Today, I visited one of Sendai's most popular: Tsutsujigaoka Park.

I'm happy to report the blossoms were still very much in full bloom today in Sendai. When I arrived around lunchtime, hundreds of people were picknicking and enjoying the atmosphere and food stalls. The park is home to a variety of tree types, including both the mainstream somei yoshino variety as well as a large number of weeping shidarezakura, creating a beautiful multicolored canopy at full bloom.

The relatively fresh blossoms here may be a bit safer than those at the Shiraishi Riverside this week, but it mainly depends on the strength of the rain and wind predicted for tomorrow. If the blossoms aren't affected too much, they could potentially stay attractive through the rest of the week.

Fluffy, pink weeping shidarezakura pouring down over Tsutsujigaoka Park
The blossoms were at full bloom today in Sendai
Blossoms everywhere, lanterns and food stalls: nothing better for the right sakura viewing atmosphere
With great cherry blossoms come great crowds
Spring crystalized into a single park
The blossoms in Sendai were at their absolute peak
Plenty more festivities still left to enjoy this season