Before returning to Tokyo, we bid farewell to Kawaguchi-ko and Mt Fuji again. We were grateful for 2 sunny days in a row, though sakura around the lakes were less promising.
Except for the last 3 photos below, all shots were taken from our hotel room balcony.
Mt Fuji – reflections and close-ups, never get enough of it
Mt Fuji with reflection in early morning
Oike Park on opposite bank
more sakuras were blooming during breakfast on the day we left
a couple was posing for wedding photos
since my last visit in end Feb for a few early sakura bloomers, I was expecting the late bloomers would be in peak. And indeed they were !
Kanzan-zakura in full bloom nearby the Shinjuku gate
Hana-kaidou (Malus Halliana from China)
a beautiful Tsubaki (Camelia)
sakura petals in ponds
greenish Ukon (sakura)
Xmas rose (Helleborus)
Showa Kinen Koen
Picked this park in Tachikawa as apart from late blooming sakuras, there are other flowers blooming such as tulips, nanohana and even to our surprise – Nemophilia as well.
rows of Somei-Yoshino sakura in Hanafubuki stage
orange tulips with a sea of sakura petals in the pond
small purple flowers
Shiraito and Otodome Falls
Next we arrived at Shiraito Falls in Fujinomiya (Shizuoka Prefecture). While the falls were spectacular, we got the first bonus in Fujinomiya – sakura full blossom and Mt Fuji together ! And Mt Fuji looked different when viewed from here – there’s a small apex in the summit.
Shiraito fall with Mt Fuji
Oishi Park (大石寺)
Next we visited Oishi Park where sakura was in peak blossom, and Mt Fuji was in sight again !!
Kariyado-no-geba zakura (狩宿の下馬桜)
Upon our return, stopped by to visit this sakura tree of more than 800 years old. Though sakura has finished, nanohana and other flowers were blooming.
sakura has finished
While peak sakura usually reaches Fuji 5-lake around mid-April, this year it was about 5-7 days later than normal.
Arakurayama Sengen Park / Chureito Pagoda
(新倉山浅間公園 / 忠霊塔)
There was hardly any sakura blossom except one or two trees up on the Chureito Pagoda with a few flowers – even the Festival event has to be extended. Nevertheless, it was another sunny day and Mt Fuji could be seen as long as it’s unblocked.
only 1 sakura tree was blooming
Fuji Omuro Sengen (富士御室浅間神社)
Next we drove westward along the southern shore of Kawaguchi-ko to check out the sakura in this Jinja – 1 sakura tree was blooming.
Mt Fuji as seen in Saiko, Asagiri Kogen and Tanuki-ko
…continued driving towards Fujinomiya in southwest of Mt Fuji.
leaving onsen ryokan in Suwa-ko after 2 nights’ stay. Picked up rental car and drove to Kawaguchi-ko, stopped by Yamataka and Fuefuki in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Suwa-ko in different perspectives
Sakura and Ume blossoms along the road
row of pink early blooming sakura trees
Red Ume in blossom
pink and while Ume blossom in one tree
Yamataka Jindai-zakura (山高神代桜)
The Jindai-zakura is one of the 3 most famous sakura trees in Japan. It’s estimated to be 1800-2000 years old re its website (see below). Apart from it, its son tree and sons of other famous sakura trees from Usuzumi-zakura (淡墨桜) in Gifu, Miharutaki-zakura (三春滝桜) in Fukushima and Kuon-ji (久遠寺) were inside Jisso-ji (実相寺), forming a sakura forest in miniature, while rows of white and yellow Suisen (daffodils) were planted in the fields. We were soaking in this forest for nearly 2 hours.
Entrance to Jisso-ji
son of famous Usuzumi-zakura
son of sakura from Kuon-ji
son of famous Miharutaki-zakura
poster stating 2000-yr old Jindai-zakura
Photo of Jindai-zakura in Meiji-era
Backside of Jindai-zakura
Before heading to the onsen hotel in Kawaguchi-ko, we visited a park in Fuefuki where there are numerous peach farms around. Pink peach flowers were in full bloom and a large sakura tree caught attention from visitors.
pink peach flowers
larger petals than sakura
peach and sakura trees
Koshu “Kokage” sakura – 1 of 7 lucky sakura trees
nicknamed as “husband-and-wife” sakura
Takato Castle ruins (高遠城址公園)
have long been aware of this very famous sakura spot but due to its location and timing have not visited till this trip.
Unlike in 2014, 2015 when full bloom commenced around 10th April, this year the bloom dates revert to yearly average. Thus, there were only a few trees with blooming sakuras. Nevertheless, the festival was on and many locals visited. We’ll be back for full bloom !
only few sakuras were blooming
local poster showing peak blossom !
other Sakura spots in Ina city
After leaving Takato castle, visited Kasuga Koen (春日公園) in nearby Ina city. A few early blooming sakura trees were blooming, though other famous sakura trees of few hundred years old near Takato Castle were not in budding stage yet.
southern JP Alps
Suwa Taisha Akimiya (諏訪大社下社秋宮)
Dropped by Suwa Shimosha Akimiya in Shimo-Suwa city before returning to onsen ryokan in Kami-Suwa. Visited the Akimiya Shrine and also two raised Onbashira – honoured pillars (御柱).
After leaving Heian Jingu we had a short coffee break before walking towards Okazaki canal. The Sun was slowly setting and the glow on the Torii gate and sakura trees was amazing.
Hirano Jinja (平野神社)
Before leaving Kyoto on the next day we visited Hirano Jinja, which has 400 sakura trees in 60 varieties re its website. Despite on a rainy day, the blooming sakuras looked gorgeous and there were some varieties that were totally new to us, e.g. “Kochou” (butterfly), “Nezame” (awaken from sleep) etc., and some would not bloom until late April.
Nezame – “awaken from sleep”
Kochou – butterfly
Jiugatsu-zakura – October sakura
The original intention was to visit the Omuro sakura in World Heritage Ninna-ji for late blooming sakura. However, as bloom dates shifted later this year, only a few of those sakura trees have started blooming. OTOH, we were surprised with a variety of Kanzan-zakura whose petals are larger, in purple-red and quite different from the other Kanzan-zakuras elsewhere. At first glance, they looked akin to Tsutsuji (Azaleas) than sakura, though the tag stated otherwise.
Omuro sakura info inscribed on stone
only a few Omuro-zakura trees have started blooming
Heian Jingu (平安神宮)
3rd visit for sakura with predominantly the pink Yaebeni-Shidare-zakura which were close to full bloom. While in our last visit in 2015 we caught sight of a Japanese wedding couple, this time a white crane was in the pond for over 10 minutes posing gracefully for its lucky audience.
the oldest train in Kyoto
Visited Honshu in 9 days for sakura around mid-April targeting some of the late blooming sakura varieties in Kyoto.
After Kyoto, we visited Takato castle-ruins, 2000-year old Jindai Sakura, Fujigoko, Fujinomiya areas before returning to Tokyo.
However, it turned out that the actual peak blossom dates in 2017 were roughly back to yearly average or few days later than normal in some locations.
Maruyama Park (円山公園)
Headed straight to the park right after hotel checkin. Sakura was in peak blossom while many locals and foreigners were wandering around taking shots, or having snacks/drinks in the park enjoying “Hanami”. It’s always nice watching sakura while soaking in this ambience, and to visit our old friend – the tall Shidare-zakura tree in the centre of the park.
locals and some foreigners were having a good time for Hanami
Visited World Heritage Nijo-jo on next morning, including the Ninomaru Palace and beautiful landscape gardens with mainly the pink Yaesu and Yaebeni-Shidare-zakuras in peak blossoms.
After my ski trip in Yuzawa, I returned to Tokyo and visited 3 parks famous for Ume (plum) and early Sakura.
Hanegi Park (羽根木公園)
This park is in Setagaya. According to the website, there were more than 600 Ume trees (out of 650) in blossom in the week when I visited.
Setagaya 40th Ume Festival
Ume named after one of 4 beauties in ancient China
origin of Ume
One of the 3 famous gardens in Japan. It is in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, about 75min by express train from Tokyo plus another 20min by local bus. It was huge and I only visited probably one-third of it where the Ume garden was. Though it was on a weekday, many locals were there to enjoy the Ume Matsuri (festival). Out of the 3000 Ume trees planted, over 1600 were blooming in the week that I visited (as per its website). Spent 3 hrs+ there, would definitely return in the future.
with Ume Ambassador
Apart from Ume, there were other flowers such as some early-blooming sakura species, which attracted huge crowds.
Side trip to Shonan
head to Shonan coastline in Kamakura on a sunny day. Had a relaxing Italian lunch there.
Enoshima in the distance
Kumagaya sakura dyke
About 10min walk from Kumagaya station (in Saitama Prefecture), there is a 2km river dyke planted with about 500 Somei Yoshino sakura trees.
This spot has been famous since Edo-era and has been selected into top 100 Sakura spots.
local sakura spot webpage