Visited Japan for sakura in mid-April for 1 week.
Matsumoto Castle and Takato Castle Ruins Park by car from Suwa-ko.
Arakurayama Sengen Park and Kawaguchi-ko by car
Akagi Senbon-zakura, Miharu-Takizakura, Nihonmatsu as day trips from Tokyo.
Right after landing in Tokyo/HND, headed to Suwa-ko by JR express train via Shinjuku. Prior to our arrival, snow was forecasted in Nagano Prefecture, apart from Tohoku etc on that night. Indeed, it had been snowing the entire night and on the next morning, the lake rim was covered in snow.
The Matsumoto Castle was not in my original plan. Due to sunny day being forecasted on the next day, decided to postpone the Takato Castle Ruins Park till then.
Visited the former after picking up car from Suwa-ko and drove very carefully – less than 50km/h and kept longer distance away from vehicles ahead. It took about 1 hour while snowing along the way.
Luckily some sakura trees were already in full bloom inside the castle park, including Shidare-zakura (weeping sakura) trees. While this was our 3rd visit to this castle, it was the first time when it was covered in snow – together with sakura 🙂
Apart from sakura, Ume (plum) flowers too were covered in snow.
It’s good to have warm soba noodles for lunch after leaving the castle park when temperature was around 1-2C.
Snowfall had stopped and on our way back we dropped by the Harumiya (Spring Shrine) – one of two Shimosha and nearby Manji stone buddha in Shimosuwa town.
ps. visited the Akimiya (Autumn Shrine), the other Shimosha 2 years ago in another sakura trip.
Had a coffee break with nice macha (green tea) roll cake in a small local cafe – we were the only customers. Headed back to onsen hotel and dropped by one of my fav local sake brewery – Masumi (真澄) from Suwa. Though sake tasting was offered, had to pass due to driving.
Stayed in a 100-year old onsen hotel on the lakeside. Ordered Masumi (sake) for 2 nights during Kaiseki dinner 🙂