A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture

Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant colours and pleasant weather. When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, Japan is buzzing with activity as locals and international visitors flock to the top sakura viewing spots and participate in spring festivals. 

Beyond the big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan is blessed with a rich variety of cherry blossom trees and the Tohoku region is a secret spring destination with spectacular cherry blossom attractions spread all over six prefectures — Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata. Here’s an insider’s guide to the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Tohoku for an unforgettable Northeast Japan spring holiday. 

 

1. Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture

Yoshino cherry blossoms in KakunodateCherry blossom trees along Hinokinai River | Photo by Akita Prefecture

One of the best cherry blossom viewing attractions in Akita Prefecture (秋田県), Kakunodate (角館) is known as the “Little Kyoto of Michinoku”. Michinoku is the old name for the Tohoku Region. Nestled in Semboku City (仙北市), the ancient town has preserved many historical buildings and streets constructed during the Edo Period. 

Kakunodate Samurai Residence Street (角館武家屋敷通りKakunodate Bukeyashiki Dо̄ri) is the most beautiful part of the town with its splendid showcase of samurai architecture and culture. In springtime, the area is transformed into a sakura wonderland because of its remarkable display of over 100 weeping cherry blossom trees, shidarezakura (しだれ桜 ) lining both sides of the street. 

Just a short walk away, you can enjoy viewing more than 100 Yoshino cherry blossom trees along Hinokinai River (桧木内川). The riverbank bursts into mesmerising shades of light pink and white when the trees are in full bloom. The town is very lively during the annual Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival (角館桜まつり). 

 

Kakunodate Samurai Residence Street (角館武家屋敷通り)
Address: Higashi-Katsurakucho, Kakunodatemachi, Semboku-shi, Akita
Access: 20-minute walk from Kakunodate Station (角館駅)
Typical sakura blooming period: Late April

 

2. Hirosaki Castle, Aomori Prefecture

Weeping cherry blossoms in Hirosaki Castle ParkHirosaki Castle | Photo by Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki Castle (弘前城) in Aomori Prefecture (青森県) is one of the top cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. The castle is located in the sprawling Hirosaki Park (弘前公園)m famous for housing over 2,600 cherry trees. The scale of the sakura blooming in the park is astounding, as there are more than 50 varieties of trees, many of which are over 300 years old. 

The secret to the dense cherry blossoms blanketing the park lies in the pruning techniques that local farmers used to cultivate Aomori apple trees, which are acclaimed for its taste and quality. This unique Hirosaki-style of pruning is applied to the grooming of the cherry trees and the result is voluminous trees flowering with more buds than other cherry trees.

Popular photo-taking spots include the cherry blossoms decorating Hirosaki Castle, the scarlet Gejo Bridge flanked by cherry trees, and the picturesque castle moat. The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival (弘前桜まつり) is an annual highlight not to be missed, and when it turns to night, the castle is illuminated for a different sakura viewing experience under the moonlight.   

 

Hirosaki Castle (弘前城)
Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8356
Access: 15-minute bus ride from Hirosaki Station (弘前駅)
Typical sakura blooming period: Late April

 

3. Hanamiyama Park, Fukushima Prefecture

Blooming trees in Hanamiyama Park in FukushimaHanamiyama in full bloom | Photo by photoAC

Hanamiyama (花見山) is a privately-owned park in Fukushima Prefecture (福島県) that has become a magnet for cherry blossom hunters. The rolling fields and hillsides are covered by trees and plants cultivated by local farmers over the years. Because of the wide range of flowers blooming throughout the seasons, the park has gained a reputation for being the “Flower Paradise of Fukushima”.

In spring, Hanamiyama bursts into kaleidoscopic colours framing the majestic Mount Azuma. Soak in the beauty of the cherry blossom trees as you stroll through the park. The vast landscape boasts a network of walking trails that lead to viewpoints and lookouts where you can admire panoramic views of the flowers and mountains.  

 

Hanamiyama (花見山)
Address: 1-1 Sakae-machi, Fukushima City, Fukushima 960-8031
Access: 15-minute bus from Fukushima Station (福島駅)
Typical sakura blooming period: Mid to late April

 

 

4. Koiwai Farm, Iwate Prefecture 

The famous lone sakura tree in Koiwai Farm, Iwate PrefectureThe iconic Koiwai Farm Ipponzakura | Photo by photoAC

For a unique cherry blossom viewing experience, head to Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場) in Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) for this postcard-like scenery – the solitary cherry tree. The iconic Koiwai Farm Ipponzakura (小岩井農場一本桜) stands strikingly on the green meadow with the snow-capped Mount Iwate in the backdrop. 

The lonesome cherry blossom tree was planted over 100 years ago to provide shade for the cattle grazing the farmlands. If you’re lucky to visit the farm when the cherry tree is in full bloom, you will be treated to this picture-perfect view. Other parts of the Koiwai Farm like the open pastoral grounds in Makiba Park are surrounded by cherry blossom trees, too. 

One of Japan’s oldest dairy farms, Koiwai Farm is famous for its high quality dairy products. Join a guided tour to see the historical farm buildings, which are designated as Important Cultural Properties. Before leaving the farm, indulge in their rich offerings of dairy delicacies like their soft serve ice cream, cheese, pudding, and more. 

Interested to see other famous solitary cherry blossom trees in Tohoku? Check out this guide to more lone cherry blossom trees.

 

Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場)
Address: 36-1 Maruyachi, Shizukuishi, Iwate District, Iwate 020-0507
Access: 10-minute bus ride from Koiwai Station (小岩井駅)
Typical sakura blooming period: Late April

 

5. Funaoka Castle Park and Hitome Senbon, Miyagi Prefecture

Funaoka Castle ParkFunaoka Castle Park | Photo by Miyagi Prefecture

One of Japan’s top 100 places to see cherry blossoms is Funaoka Castle Park (船岡城址公園) in Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県). A fun way to get to the summit of the park is to ride the rustic slope car, an automatic mini monorail, that chugs through a stunning “sakura tunnel”.

When you’re at the summit of the park, feast your eyes on the famous view of Hitome Senbonzakura (一目千本桜), which means “a thousand cherry blossom trees in a glance.” Over 1,200 cherry trees bloom along the Shiroishi River (白石川), between Ogawara and Shibata town. 

Join the locals and participate in festivals like the Shibata Sakura Festival (しばた桜まつり) that’s held at Funaoka Castle Park and the riverside Ogawara Sakura Festival (おおがわら桜まつり). Read more about the best ways to enjoy Hitome Senbonzakura here

 

Funaoka Castle Park (船岡城址公園)
Address: Tateyama-95-1 Funaoka, Shibata, Shibata District, Miyagi 989-1606
Access: 15-minute walk from Funaoka Station (船岡駅)
Typical sakura blooming period: Mid April

 

6. Tsuruoka Park, Yamagata Prefecture

Cherry blossoms in Tsuruoka ParkTsuruoka Park | Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Another top 100 cherry blossom spots in Japan, Tsuruoka Park is a popular attraction in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture (山形県). The park is built on the ruins of the Tsurugaoka Castle (鶴ヶ岡城). The historical castle was the residence for the feudal lords of the Shonai Domain; Shonai (庄内) refers to the north-western coastal region of Yamagata.

The atmospheric castle grounds are packed with over 700 cherry blossom trees that blend with the castle’s moat and stone walls. The castle park is the perfect place to enjoy ohanami (花見) or cherry blossoms viewing and locals enjoy having picnics with families and friends under the cherry trees. The park attracts crowds during its Tsuruoka Cherry Blossom Festival (鶴岡桜祭り) with food stalls and lively festival activities.   

 

Tsuruoka Park (鶴岡公園)
Address: 4 Babacho, Tsuruoka City, Yamagata 997-0035
Access: 10-minute bus from Tsuruoka Station (鶴岡駅)
Typical sakura blooming period: Mid April

 

Celebrate Spring in Tohoku with JAPAN RAIL CLUB

Tasty Tohoku Treat March 2024 Box

 Are you ready for more delights from Tohoku? Other than beautiful nature, the Tohoku region is filled with delicious goodies from six prefectures. Welcome spring with “Tasty Tohoku Treats” March 2024 Omiyage Snack Box, specially curated by JAPAN RAIL CLUB. 

This month’s Tohoku-themed snack box features squid rice crackers from Iwate, dried sardine and salted rice crackers from Yamagata, Fukushima’s fresh dried peach, and hand-grilled rice crackers by our Maker of the Month, Kanaeya (鼎家) from Akita Prefecture. 

Enjoy a special offer of 20% (apply promo code “TTT20”) if you subscribe to the 6-month plan and enjoy the convenience of receiving JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s unique snack box every month! 

 

Teaser: Spring Beginnings Omiyage Snack Box by JAPAN RAIL CLUB (Available April 2024)

Just as a reward for reading this article so far, here’s an exclusive preview to our upcoming Omiyage Snack Box this April 2024! Titled “Spring Beginnings”, indulge in a box full of spring-themed snacks from Japan in anticipation of this beautiful and transient season!

 

Craving for more Japanese food? Check out our tasty guides to must-try food and must-buy souvenirs from Tohoku!

Meet the author

Wendy Ng

Wendy (@whywendywrites) spent 2 life-changing years in Okinawa as part of the Japan and Exchange Teaching (JET) Programme. Now, back in Singapore, she dreams and writes about Japan. A compulsive-obsessive travel planner and foodie, she believes that when we know more (and eat more), we travel better.

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你知道嗎?日本是世界第二大綠茶生產國,僅次於中國,而靜岡縣的茶就占全國生產量約40%。 一般來說,茶葉會經過蒸、揉和乾燥等過程來製作成飲用茶。採摘後的茶葉會被蒸熟以停止氧化,以保持茶葉的鮮綠色、營養和清新的香氣。

Carissa Loh

抹茶饗宴:日本綠茶探索指南

你知道嗎?日本是世界第二大綠茶生產國,僅次於中國,而靜岡縣的茶就占全國生產量約40%。 一般來說,茶葉會經過蒸、揉和乾燥等過程來製作成飲用茶。採摘後的茶葉會被蒸熟以停止氧化,以保持茶葉的鮮綠色、營養和清新的香氣。

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea in Japan
Sue Lynn

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea...

High in anti-oxidants and packed with anti-inflammatory properties, green tea (緑茶) is one of Japan’s most popular beverages and an important part of its culture, and can be found all...

Carissa Loh Culture

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea...

High in anti-oxidants and packed with anti-inflammatory properties, green tea (緑茶) is one of Japan’s...

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖
Sue Lynn

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikonocha Honpo
Sue Lynn

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea culture. Originally introduced by returning Buddhist monks from their travels in China in the 9th...

Sue Lynn Food

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea...

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji, Kyoto by Kyoeiseicha
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with the special “So Much Matcha” Omiyage Snack Box. May marks the start of the traditional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with...

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點
Sue Lynn

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Carissa Loh Culture

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Explore During Japan's Shinryoku Season
Sue Lynn

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for nature―Midori-no-Hi (みどりの日 Greenery Day). Observed annually on 4 May, this national holiday is a testament...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for...

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
Sue Lynn

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top producer of agricultural products and seafood: the vast lands covering Japan’s second largest island and...

Wendy Ng

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top...

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of Japan
Sue Lynn

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes but even amongst these, there are three locations that rise above the others and are...

Dawn Sim Nature

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes...

Japan celebrates Golden Week between April 29 to May 5
Sue Lynn

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of Japan's most prominent and bustling holiday periods, usually spans from late April to early May...

Dawn Sim Culture

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of...

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉
Sue Lynn

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Carissa Loh Nature

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Than Sakura
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms,...

Carissa Loh Nature

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with...

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in April and May
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of a new beginning in many Japanese literature. | Photo by Dawn Sim   A symbol...

Dawn Sim Spring

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other than the mesmerising cherry blossoms painting the landscape, spring is the best season to experience...

Wendy Ng Food

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festivals in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing with it beautiful flowers, comfortable temperatures, and a time of celebration. While most travellers head...

Carissa Loh Festival

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing...

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Sue Lynn

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro)....

Carissa Loh Culture

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich...

Sakura Karinto and Marui Suzuki
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions of celebrating this season is to enjoy “ohanami” (お花見)! Ohanami means “flower-viewing”, and this is...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions...

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant...

Wendy Ng Spring

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the...

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of Shochu Distilleries in Miyazaki
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese drink more shochu than sake. Considered to be Japan's national spirit, Shochu is gaining great...

Wendy Ng

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese...

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Sue Lynn

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita...

Dawn Sim Culture

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition,...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you can unearth more culinary treasures spread throughout the country if you venture into the less...

Wendy Ng Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you...

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo for Ohanami
Sue Lynn

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you have witnessed the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in full bloom. A cherry...

Carissa Loh Culture

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Tohoku
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six prefectures, and is a treasure trove of beautiful nature and fascinating history. It’s a wonderful...

Carissa Loh Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six...

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souvenir & Gift-Giving Culture
Sue Lynn

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably seen the colourful and beautifully packaged boxes of local confectionery filling the gift shops along...

Carissa Loh Culture

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably...