Following the recent end of the cherry blossom season in places like Tokyo and Kyoto, the spotlight now turns to Japan's more northerly regions and those of higher altitudes as their seasons get into full swing.
The season is now progressing nicely up in the Tohoku Region as we saw yesterday through Raina's report of the blossoms in Aizu approaching full bloom, and my own report from an ever-so-slightly declining but still beautiful Sendai.
Today I made the journey from Sendai to nearby Shiroishi, a town with multiple sakura spots that typically attract lots of visitors come spring. I found a mixed bag in the spots I visited today; with the most unimpressive (cherry blossom-wise) Shiroishi Castle, which was already decidedly past peak and heading fast towards its season's end.
On the other hand, Shiroishi River and the adjacent Funaokajoshi Park were still looking lovely despite the petals having started to fall. Unfortunately, strong winds are forecast for later today and tomorrow which will probably bring the best viewing period to a premature end.
To begin the day's proceedings I made the walk along the Shiroishi River, a well-known cherry blossom spot in these parts that can be reached from Sendai in around half an hour by train. The riverside is adorned with cherry trees that stretch between Ogawara and Funaoka Stations on the JR Tohoku Line, and number in excess of 1000.
Starting from down near Ogawara Station, at first I saw signs that led me to believe that the cherry blossoms were past peak, but their condition improved as I made my way down river, with some beautiful displays from the trees despite starting to lose their petals.
Towards the conclusion of my riverside walk and a few hundred meters from Funaoka Station, I found Funaokajoshi Park. This hillside park looked colorful today with a variety of spring flowers, and I got to see many of them from the Slope Car trolley bus which can be boarded for a small fee and takes visitors up to the park's highest point. Much like the nearby riverside, the cherry blossoms in the park had just started to lose their petals but remained in their best viewing period.
My final stop of the day was at Shiroishi Castle, also known as Masuoka Park, which can be reached by taking the JR Tohoku Line from Funaoka Station and alighting at Shiroishi Station. Unlike the riverside and Funaokajoshi Park, the cherry trees here were decidedly past peak with many trees beginning to look blossom-bare. I expect that it will only be a day or two before the castle park reaches the end of its season.