|Schauwecker's Japan Travel Blog|
by Stefan Schauwecker, webmaster of japan-guide.com
This blog is intended to record some of my travel activities in Japan.
2010/05/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
On the second and final day of my cherry blossom report to the northern Tohoku Region, I visited Kakunodate, a small city in Akita Prefecture, known for its beautifully preserved samurai district and its cherry blossoms.
Kakunodate Samurai District
May 6, 2010 - beyond peak
In order to enhance their remote rural town with some flavor from the distant capital, the former samurai residents of Kakunodate imported weeping cherry trees from Kyoto in 1656 to be planted in their gardens. A few hundred years later, over 150 weeping cherry trees are delighting thousands of tourists every spring with their exceptional seasonal beauty.
Due to this seasonal beauty and the annual promotional efforts by JR East to lure as many Tokyoites as possible into the northwestern corner of its service area, Kakunodate gets quite crowded during the cherry blossom season. So, in an effort to beat the crowds and get some pictures of the samurai district without the hordes of fellow tourists, I timed my report for 5am, half an hour after sunrise.
Despite the early start, I was in good company of two dozen or so elderly men with tripods, just as I had expected. The district remained calm throughout my stay. I left Kakunodate around 9am.
Like in Hirosaki, the cherry trees in Kakunodate opened their blossoms several days later than average in this year, and were in full bloom during the past few days. In the meantime, petals have started to fall and green leaves to emerge, but the trees' sight was still worth the trip. I am afraid, however, that a large percentage of blossoms is unlikely to make it through the weekend and that green will fully replace pink in the near future.
May 6, 2010 - petals starting to fall
The somei yoshino follow a schedule that is typically 2-5 days behind that of the weeping cherry trees. Although petals have only just started to fall in small amounts so far, green leaves are already developing quite prominently. Nevertheless, the trees still appear close to full bloom and I think that they may make it through the weekend in relatively good shape.