After visiting the Hitachi Seaside Park and Ashikaga Flower Park, we headed to northern Tohoku for sakura in late April as per original plan.
The first stop was Kitakami in Iwate Prefecture – a top 100 sakura spot. Arrived from Tokyo by Hayabusa Shinkansen train in about 2.5 hours direct. The venue was along a 2km river dyke on the other side of a river. We took a temporary boat service crossing the river in 5min, landing in the middle of the venue.
There were well over 1000 sakura trees – mainly of Somei Yoshino, of which 500 of them were over 90 years old. Sakura was in full bloom with temperature in low teens – about 10C cooler than in Tokyo. As usual, the pink Shidarezakura (weeping sakura) attracted more crowds.
Though there were more sakura trees to the south of the venue where lots of temporary food stalls were selling cooked food, we left the venue after 2 hours.
Kitakami Tenshochi (北上展勝地)
Hanamaki onsen (花巻温泉)
After late lunch in Kitakami station, we headed to Hanamaki onsen where we stayed for 2 nights in 1 of 4 onsen hotel premises belonging to the same group. According to its exhibits, some of the premises were nearly a century old and the Japanese royal family members had stayed.
Just opposite to our onsen hotel there was an indoor rose plantation, while sakura was in full bloom. Roses were totally unexpected in April.
Daily performance after dinner – local folk dance, traditional singing and sanmisen performance.