Sean's Japan Travel Journal
by Sean, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate

I realize that I haven't been using the word "sakura", the Japanese term for "cherry blossoms", at all this season. When a Japanese mentions "sakura", he or she usually refers to the Somei Yoshino cherry trees or their blossoms, because they are by far the majority and many agree that they look best. Some places, for example the Samurai District of Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture, have many Shidarezakura cherry trees. These are weeping cherry trees, and you might have noticed that the "zakura" part of the word is actually "sakura" with the first sound changed to match the words in front.

Kakunodate is one of the Tohoku Region's top three cherry blossom spots, along with Hirosaki and Kitakami. During an average year, by this time around the Golden Week Holidays, the cherry trees at Kakunodate would have been at or close to their peak. This year however, due to relatively severe weather, the trees have delayed opening their flowers; weather agencies have been forecasting that the sakura here would start opening today.

Hinokinai River

Kakunodate Samurai District
April 29, 2012 - Opening (10-50%) (Shidarezakura)

My grand aunt told me one day when I was a kid that, if you said to a peacock that it's not pretty, it will spread its feathers and show you what's pretty. Obviously I quickly found out that that doesn't work, but for some inexplicable reason, I found myself trying it at some of the Shidarezakura buds earlier today:

"You're not pretty!" I yelled, pointing an accusing finger at some innocent random bunch. What ensued was an embarrassing moment of epic proportions: The 65% or so unopened Shidarezakura blossoms simply ignored me, the 35% or so that were open gleamed in the sunshine as if they were laughing at me, and 100% of the passer-bys within a 50 meter radius stopped to stare curiously as if I were some talking ape. "Kirei desu ne (They are beautiful, aren't they)" I blurted, and quickly walked away to disappear within the crowd of thousands. Awkward.

Tour groups start pouring in
State of Shidarezakura
Some came in traditional clothes and posed for others to take pictures
Little girl gets to know nature
This car came before 10:00. From 10:00 to 16:00 (during sakura festival) only pedestrians are allowed on the main street in the Samurai District

Kakunodate Riverside
April 29, 2012 - Opening (10-50%)

A kind old man single-handedly made my day better when he approached and said: "you must be a professional photographer." He then looked at my pictures and went: "kirei desu ne". I suddenly had the feeling that the only reason why he had that impression was because I was holding one camera in each hand. Ok, at least I Look like a professional. Wink.

Both banks of the Hinokinai River are lined with seemingly unending rows of sakura trees. I was feeling perturbed when trying to decide on the state of the blossoms: I walked back and forth the long stretch three times. At first, it seemed that the sakura were only at a just-opening stage. However, the more I walked and observed, the more they seemed to have blossomed. It was almost as if those petty pretty flowers were playing a trick to get back at me for my sudden outrage earlier.

Well, making a more serious conjecture, it could be the warm day which was encouraging the blossoms to bloom even as I walked. With the sakura and shidarezakura set to reach full bloom in a day or two, it would be a beautiful Golden Week here at Kakunodate.

Many enjoying a picnic
Majority of the buds are looking full and ready to open soon
Sunday + Golden Week + Sakura Season + Kakunodate = flood of tour buses
Sakura festival will go on till May 6
My lunch at a festival food stall
Visitors enjoying a performance
Many were seen fishing by the river. I wonder how one of them got to the middle of the river.
A man placed his soft toy nicely for a picture. He was kind enough to let me take one too

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2014/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2014/04/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takato
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2014/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/06 - Shopping around Northern Osaka
2014/01/23 - Nikko in Winter

2013/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/06 - Kamakura Report
2013/11/26 - Tokyo Report
2013/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/21 - Miyajima Report
2013/11/19 - Korankei Report
2013/11/18 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/11 - Sakurayama Report
2013/11/08 - Karuizawa Report
2013/10/29 - Nikko Report
2013/10/18 - Nasu Report
2013/10/17 - Nikko Report
2013/10/14 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/10/10 - Oze Report
2013/09/27 - Alpine Route Report
2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013
2013/08/07 - Exploring Tokyo 2: Around the Tokyo Imperial Palace
2013/05/20 - Tottori Sand Museum 2013
2013/05/07 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2013/05/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2013/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2013/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takayama
2013/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumoto
2013/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2013/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/31 - Visiting Shodoshima for the Setouchi Triennale 2013
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2013/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Early Cherry Blossom Report
2013/02/17 - Tokamachi Snow Festival
2013/02/16 - Zao Snow Monster Report
2013/02/15 - Yokote Kamakura Festival
2013/01/10 - Winter Visit to Manza Onsen
2013/01/02 - Tokyo New Year Report

2012/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Takaosan
2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/15 - Autumn Color Report: Shosenkyo
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2012/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Hiraizumi
2012/11/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2012/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Minakami
2012/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Norikura
2012/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2012/10/09 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2012/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kogen Onsen
2012/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/17 - Exploring Tokyo: Gate Bridge
2012/08/20 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma
2012/06/18 - Legoland Discovery Center opens in Odaiba
2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2012/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2012/05/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiraizumi
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2012/04/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2012/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2012/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen, Mito
2012/03/07 - Trip to Iwaki, Fukushima
2012/02/21 - Plum Blossom Report from Tokyo
2012/01/30 - Skiing in Inawashiro, Fukushima
2012/01/27 - Kusatsu Hot Springs