Despite a slightly later than average start in parts of Kanto and Kansai, this year's cherry blossom season is now well underway. Following on from Raina's report yesterday from Nagoya where the blossoms were already approaching full bloom, I today visited two spots in Japan's Hokuriku Region - one in Kanazawa and one in Fukui City - to see how things were progressing there.

Although this was by far my most satisfying day of blossom viewing so far this season, both locations were still just short of their best - so visitors to the same two spots later this weekend and even into the first half of next week can expect an even better experience.

Kenrokuen Garden

Blossoms Opening

I began my day at Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa - generally considered one of Japan's top three traditional landscape gardens and certainly one of the most recognizable sightseeing spots in the city. Although this turned out to be a very enjoyable visit with a few branches already heavy with well developed blossoms, overall the garden still felt just slightly short of peak viewing.

While there was a bit of variation between different areas within the garden, the trees belonging to the Somei Yoshino variety - by far the most common - were generally at 30-50% in bloom. Based on this, I would predict the window for best possible viewing to begin in another two to three days.

Asuwa River Cherry Blossom Row

Approaching Full Bloom

For the second half of my report I made my way to Fukui City, now easily accessible from Kanazawa by shinkansen thanks to the recent extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Located about 20 minutes' walk from the station, the Asuwa River Cherry Blossom Row is a pleasant two kilometer pathway lined with 600 cherry blossom trees. Despite an apparent lack of overseas tourists, the blossoms had drawn a fairly large crowd while a row of food trucks and several street performers created a pleasantly festive atmosphere.

Here, the blossoms appeared overall a little further along than at Kenrokuen with around 60% of buds having opened - again, very enjoyable to look at but still just teetering on the edge of full bloom, with peak viewing likely to begin from tomorrow or on Sunday at the latest.