Moving northwards from Hirosaki, where I was yesterday, I crossed the sea over to Hakodate in Hokkaido to bring you our penultimate cherry blossom report. The cherry blossom season in southern and western Hokkaido is typically from end April till early May, especially in the cities of Hakodate and Sapporo, while other cities in northern and eastern Hokkaido typically reach their best around mid May.

Hakodate and Sapporo both announced the opening of their first blossoms on April 18, about 1-2 weeks earlier compared to the average year. Warmer than average temperatures over the last few weeks have led to the earlier blossoming period. It should be noted that compared to the rest of Japan, it takes fewer days for the cherry trees in northern Japan, like in Hirosaki and Hokkaido, to reach full bloom after the opening of the first blossoms.

Today, I visited Fort Goryokaku in Hakodate, another one of the best cherry blossoms spots in Japan. Full bloom was officially announced in Hakodate, five days since the opening of the first blossoms was announced. On my visit today, I observed that the cherry trees at Fort Goryokaku were already at their best viewing and most were just a day from reaching their peak. Rain and relatively strong winds are forecast in Hakodate from tomorrow evening through to Thursday morning, but I do not expect the inclement weather to cause major damage to the blossoms. I predict the best viewing at Fort Goryokaku in Hakodate to continue through till at least Saturday. The coming long weekend would still be a nice time to enjoy cherry blossom viewing parties in Hakodate, but the cherry trees may not be as full or attractive like they were at their peak.

Goryokaku Tower, located at the southern end of Fort Goryokaku, has an observation deck 90 meters above ground. Admission to the observation deck costs 1000 yen, and it is a great place to get an aerial view of the entire fort. Until May 6, the section of cherry trees by the base of Goryokaku Tower is illuminated from 19:00 to 21:00. Additionally, barbecues are allowed in the western section of the park. Note that cooking is allowed only in specific roped out sections.