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Matsumoto: Blossoms Opening

Matsumoto Castle keep framed by blossoms

This year's cherry blossom season is now winding down in many of Japan's large cities, with the spotlight soon to be on the Tohoku Region before the blossom 'front' finally sweeps northward to Hokkaido. In continuing with our sakura reporting, today I took a trip to the old city of Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture to see how the blossoms were getting on. I stopped by three of the city's blossom-viewing spots, the Koboyama, Matsumoto Castle and finally Joyama Park.

I noted today that the city was generally still in a state of opening, with the vast majority of cherry trees as of yet still bearing much less than half of their blossoms open. Having said this, it did look in many cases as though the blossoms were not too far from opening. Mild temperatures have been predicted over the coming days, and if this forecast holds true, I expect Matsumoto to steadily progress into its best viewing period over the next 1-2 days.

Koboyama

Blossoms Opening

My first stop today was at Koboyama, a large hill in the south of Matsumoto that boasts a beautiful mixture of cherry trees, with the ubiquitous Somei Yoshino variety alongside bright pink weeping cherry trees. I got to this popular sakura spot early this morning to find that the majority of the trees were still in stages of opening, with the Somei Yoshino generally bearing few open blossoms.

The spectacular displays that this mound is known for have certainly not become a reality here yet this year, but if the mild temperatures forecast going into the weekend come to pass, I expect that Koboyama will continue to steadily progress and enter its best viewing around the end of the weekend.

Overcast and early on Koboyama
Not enough blossoms open make for less-than-spectacular displays
Some flurries of color from the trees that have progressed further
Some weeping cherry trees were out performing the Somei Yoshino this morning
The most consistent scenes were here, on the side of the hill
Nice displays

Matsumoto Castle

Blossoms Opening

Following Koboyama, I moved into the center of the city and to the city's most famous landmark, Matsumoto Castle. One of only twelve castles in the country whose keep has survived since the Edo Period, Matsumoto's is widely considered to be one of the most attractive in all of Japan, and draws droves of visitors come spring when its cherry trees typically exhibit beautiful floral displays.

Today I found that, while some of the castle's earlier blooming cherry tree varieties were looking very nice, the Somei Yoshino, which fill most of the grounds, were generally still opening, with many trees having no more than 25% of their blossoms open. Progress looked to be particularly slow among the cherry trees that line the castle moat, with the area generally looking as of yet a bit barren.

This being said, if the mild temperatures that have been forecast come to pass over the coming days, I expect that the castle will have reached its best viewing period before the weekend is over. The castle grounds will be lit up so visitors can enjoy night-time sakura displays from 17:30-21:00 through April 17.

Looking down on some of the castle's more developed cherry trees from inside the keep
Some stunning displays on ground level
Wonderful but atypical at the moment
This was a more common site (the petals on the floor looked to have been the doing of birds)
A way to go before best viewing here
Some trees were progressing relatively nicely
Scenes by the moat

Joyama Park

Blossoms Opening

The final spot on my list today was at Joyama Park to the north of the castle. This park is another of Matsumoto's popular sakura spots with plenty of green space for relaxing. Being at a higher elevation than most of the city, the cherry trees here were faring similarly to those at Koboyama, with relatively few blossoms having as of yet opened.

Despite this, many of the buds didn't look too far off blossoming, and, should the mild temperatures that have been forecast hold true, I expect that this area will reach its best viewing period by around the end of the weekend.

The park remains relatively colorless for now
Signs that best viewing is not far away
A sakura tunnel lacking blossoms
Mild temperatures could do the trick over the coming days