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Fukuoka: Blossoms Opening

Looking down from the former main citadel of Fukuoka Castle

Following our reports from Tokyo and Kyoto yesterday, today we visited another cherry blossom hot spot and the largest city on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka. It's been, five days now since Japan's meteorological agency announced the opening of the cherry blossoms in this city, which is two days earlier than in average years largely due to this past winter being considerably warmer than average.

From what we saw today, and because the temperature is expected to remain mild over the coming days, we estimate that the best viewing period in Fukuoka will begin around March 28 and continue for around a week thereafter unless the petals are battered by unexpected strong winds or rain.

Today I went to check how the cherry blossoms were faring at two of Fukuoka's popular hanami spots, namely Maizuru Park and Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. I found that in general, the area's Somei Yoshino (Japan's most common variety of cherry tree) were still quite a way off full bloom, with some at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park looking to have seemingly just opened. This being said, the season is starting to take shape here with plenty of nice floral displays currently on offer.

Maizuru Park

Blossoms Opening

Maizuru Park and the adjacent Ohori Park comprise the area surrounding the ruins of Fukuoka Castle, and collectively are one of the most popular places in the city for blossom chasers. While some cherry trees today were already giving vibrant displays, the majority of trees, especially those around the former main citadel, were still not bearing a large amount of open blossoms, meaning that the optimum viewing stage around here probably won't begin for a few days.

If warm weather forecast over the next days holds true, I expect the castle and its surroundings to start looking their spectacular springtime best before the weekend. Within Maizuru and Ohori parks there are three paid areas with nightly illuminations from 18:00 to 22:00. The price to enter one area is 300 yen, while a common ticket to freely enter all three on a particular evening costs 600 yen. The illuminations here are scheduled to go on through April 1.

A lone tree flaunting vibrant petals in the midst of less-progressed trees
Citadel petals
The big picture around the main citadel
Opening but still a while to go before full bloom
Around the main citadel is one of the three illuminated areas come night time
One of the other night time illumination areas not showing too much yet in the way of blossoms
Another atypical display in Ohori Park
Walking around the old castle grounds
A weeping cherry tree attracts attention in Maizuru Park
Beautiful

Uminonakamichi Seaside Park

Approaching Full Bloom

The second and final stop on today's cherry blossom investigation was across town at Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. This large park is best explored on rental cycle and represents a great day out for families, boasting spectacular displays of seasonal flowers at different points throughout the year.

The cherry trees in the park today were a mixed bag, with the Somei Yoshino looking to have barely opened, whilst many earlier-developing sakura varieties, particularly those that line the bike paths, were looking decidedly beautiful. In addition, there were many other vibrant displays from flowers throughout the park such as tulips and blue nemophila.

The flowers that are in full bloom make the park already great for those looking to enjoy some springtime displays. However, I think that it will take the majority of the park's cherry trees until this weekend before they start looking their best. This, of course, is contingent on the forecast warm weather holding true.

Sakura looking brilliant in some areas along the bike path
Other cherry trees haven't yet made as much progress
Spot the open blossoms
Plenty of nice displays, though
Blues...
...and yellows
Cherry trees near the front entrance looking to be opening
Still a few days to go until this tree explodes into color