We are now at the end of March, and in the last two weeks, we have been chasing the cherry blossom front from Kyushu to Kanto. This year's sakura season so far has been over a week earlier compared to the average year. Full bloom has been reported in many cities except in places at higher altitudes, and the Hokuriku, Tohoku and Hokkaido regions where the season has yet to start.
Thanks to the warm and mild weather since March, the best viewing period for sakura has been comparatively long due to the absence of rain and strong winds which can end the season prematurely. However all good things come to an end, and the next few days are the last chances to see the cherry blossoms at their best (in the places where the season is already ongoing) before the cherry trees start shedding their petals in larger numbers and green leaves start growing.
Today, I made my way to the city of Nagoya where the season opened on March 19 and reached full bloom (mankai) on March 27. Five days after mankai, I found that while the cherry trees are still in their best viewing period, their petals have started to fall signalling the beginning of the end of the season. I expect the cherry trees to remain attractive over the next few days before they start looking patchy and bare without most of their flowers.
Yamazakigawa Riverside: Petals Starting To Fall
The Yamazaki Path of Four Seasons (Shikinomichi) is a 13.6 kilometer pathway which follows the Yamazaki River. Of the almost 14 kilometer long route, three kilometers of it is lined by about 600 cherry trees between the Ishikawa and Aratama bridges. Today, I found that the cherry blossom petals have started falling but the cherry trees remain attractive nonetheless. I expect the best viewing period to continue over the next few days before the cherry trees lose too many flowers and start looking bald.
The cherry tree lined path can be accessed from either Mizuho-Kuyakusho, Aratamabashi or Mizuho-Undojo-Higashi stations.
Tsuruma Park: Petals Starting To Fall
Tsuruma Park is a popular cherry blossom spot in Nagoya, and today the park was crowded with visitors out to enjoy their last sakura weekend. About 750 cherry trees can be found in park, making it easy to find prime hanami picnic spots. There is a spring festival at the park which will continue till June 10, but the cherry trees will be illuminated only until April 5, 2018. I found the cherry blossoms at the front of the park to be losing their petals rapidly while the ones at the back of the park looked more full. I expect the best viewing period here to continue no longer than the next few days and for the cherry trees to reach end of their season by next week.
Nagoya Castle: Petals Starting To Fall
Nagoya Castle has about 1000 cherry trees on its grounds, and today, I found that the petals had started to fall but the cherry trees still looked attractive overall. I expect the best viewing period to continue over the next few days given the good weather forecast.
Until April 8, there is a sakura festival at Nagoya Castle and visitors can look forward to food stalls and samurai and ninja performances. The castle grounds are also illuminated in the evening until 20:00 (entry until 19:30). During the same period, a separate paid (2600 yen) Japanese sake festival featuring sake breweries from all across the country can also be found on the Nishinomaru grounds.
On my visit to the castle, I found many exciting things happening there. A new dining area called Kinshachi Yokocho opened today and is located near the eastern entrance gates not far from the Shiyakusho subway exit. The castle's former palace buildings are also being reconstructed and currently, visitors can visit the entrance and reception halls. and several of the rooms in the palace. However, reconstruction to the palace residence is almost complete and the entirety of the palace is scheduled to open to the public from June 8, 2018.
From May 7, 2018, Nagoya's main castle keep will be closed to visitors in keeping with the plans to rebuild the keep in wood like it was before. This ambitious and extremely expensive project will see the current keep demolished and the new wooden one to be completed by December 2022.