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May 1, 2015 - Hanami 2015 Day 5 - Kakunodate and Long Winding Route to Aomori
It is now our fifth day of our quest to experience some of the best sakura spots in the Tohoku region. Yesterday, Alan and I were just in time to see the full bloom of the lonely sakura tree of Koiwai Farm about an hour away by bus from Morioka. The sakura at Koiwai Farm are supposed to bloom during Golden Week, but due to the strange warm weather spreading across the country, the cherry blossoms bloomed a week too early. Unfortunately, since the Koiwai Farm blossoms are some of the last ones to bloom in the Tohoku region, our sakura hanami experience has come to a premature end. Only if we could trade our JR East Passes with the JR Pass so that we could go all the way to Hakodate.
I have booked a hotel in Aomori before the trip in anticipation of the sakura full bloom at Hirosaki that should happen around this time. However, as we have already covered Hirosaki on Day 2 for the full bloom of the late blooming varieties, it's going to be boring taking the ultrafast Hayabusa again to Aomori from Morioka.
A visit to the samurai town of Kakunodate had been a must-see on my itinerary as Alan wanted to experience Japan's samurai culture just like in the Last Samurai and the sakura over there was oh-so pretty. Before the trip, I kept checking Kakunodate's tourism website on an almost daily basis to see the status of the blossoms and to my dismay, the sakura blossomed way too early. It was futile for us to go there in the beginning of the trip and I had no choice but to visit Kakunodate on this day itself since it is conveniently on the way from Morioka to Aomori.
As expected, all the sakura have turned into regular trees with only a few late blooming ones remain when we got there. Alan and I would just have to experience entering the former house of a samurai family, look at some of the local handicrafts and learn more about the town through the historical family relics that were left behind.
We ended the afternoon in Kakunodate with some Inaniwa udon near the train station. As much as we would've liked to see more of the town, our visit had to be cut short as we have booked a nice long train ride along the Sea of Japan coast to Aomori - the Resort Shirakami!
We reserved a booth for just the both of us and it was the perfect time to relax and unwind from the exhausting journey that we've gone through frantically running all over the Tohoku region to see some sakura. The coastline along the Gono train line was very pretty and picturesque, but it was unfortunate that the lighting wasn't good enough for us to take stunning photos that do justice to the views that we've witnessed with our own eyes.
We've finally reached Honshu's northernmost city, Aomori and we ended the day with some yakiniku and some highballs as Alan wanted to eat more of the local beef. This marked the end of our time in the Tohoku region as we need to make our way back to Tokyo on the next day.
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