cherry blossoms in tohoku

The beauty of cherry blossoms in the Tohoku region of Japan. (Photo from: Hirosaki Tourism and Convention Bureau)

Spring in Japan brings an ethereal beauty as sakura, or what the Japanese call cherry blossoms, blanket the country’s landscapes in wispy shades of pink and white. While the country boasts numerous cherry blossom viewing spots, the Tohoku region stands out for its serene landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Furthermore, it’s perfect for those looking to escape the main March crowds and venture into more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Here are five must-visit destinations in Tohoku to witness the breathtaking spectacle of cherry blossoms from the second week of April to early May.

Miharu Takizakura, Fukushima Prefecture

Miharu Takizakura

Miharu Takizakura in Fukushima Prefecture’s MIharu town. (Photo from: Fukushima Prefecture Tourism and Local Products Association)

Nestled in the heart of Miharu town in central Fukushima Prefecture, Miharu Takizakura is a prime example of the enduring beauty of nature. This ancient sakura tree, which translates to ‘waterfall cherry tree’, is over a thousand years old and has sprawling branches resembling a cascading waterfall. Visitors flock here in mid-April to witness the tree in full bloom, a spectacle that has earned its recognition as one of Japan's three most famous cherry blossom trees. Despite the crowds, regulated access ensures a seamless viewing experience (tickets to view the sakura are at JPY500 per person), allowing visitors to marvel at this natural treasure.

Miharu Takizakura can be accessed in 2024 via a temporary bus service, running between Miharu Station and the Miharu Takizakura. A one-way journey takes 25 minutes and costs JPY700 for a 1-day pass.

Kakunodate Bukeyashiki-dori, Akita Prefecture

Kakunodate Bukeyashiki-dori

Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture. (Photo from: Photo AC)

Akita Prefecture’s Kakunodate town doesn’t just hold claim to its fame as a former castle town and samurai stronghold, but also for its numerous shidarezakura, or weeping cherry trees that line the Hinokinai River embankment and against the backdrop of traditional black board fences, creating a mesmerising contrast. Bukeyashiki-dori, lined with charming ancient samurai residences, offers a picturesque setting for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, 

The best time to visit Kakunodate is late April to early May during the Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival. The town is accessible with a short 20-minute walk from JR Kakunodate Station.

Kitakami Tenshochi, Iwate Prefecture

Cherry blossoms lining the Kitakami river in Iwate Prefecture. (Photo from: Photo AC)

Immerse yourself in the natural splendour and cultural heritage of Kitakami Tenshochi Park in central Iwate Prefecture during its annual cherry blossom festival from mid-April to May. With 10,000 cherry trees lining the picturesque Kitakami River, the park offers a breathtaking display of blooming sakura, enchanting visitors with their ethereal beauty. Adjacent to the park, Michinoku Folklore Village provides a captivating journey through time with 28 meticulously preserved buildings showcasing Iwate's rich heritage. Whether strolling amidst the cherry blossoms or exploring the village's historic treasures, visitors can indulge in tranquillity and cultural discovery, savouring the timeless allure of Japan's beloved sakura season.

Kitakami Tenshochi is accessible with a 20-minute walk from JR Kitakami Station’s east exit.

Kajo Park, Yamagata Prefecture

Kajo Park

The magnificent cherry blossoms in Yamagata Prefecture’s Kajo Park. (Photo from: Yamagata Prefecture)

Nature's beauty intertwines with centuries of history at Kajo Park, which was once the site of Yamagata Castle, a bastion of feudal power dating back to the 14th century (with the castle built in 1952). The park blooms with over 1,500 cherry blossom trees, adorning its verdant expanses with the gentle pink hues of its sakura. As visitors wander amidst the remnants of the castle's innermost walls, they're immersed in a world of historical intrigue accentuated by sakura all around. From the tranquil moat to the charming cultural attractions, including the Mogami Yoshiaki Historical Museum and Yamagata Art Museum, Kajo Park offers a captivating blend of floral fantasy and cultural heritage. 

The sakura at Kajo Park is best viewed between early and mid-April and is accessible via a short ten-minute walk from JR Yamagata Station.

Hirosaki Park, Aomori Prefecture

Hirosaki Park

Hirosaki Park’s endless rows of cherry blossom trees. (Photo from: Hirosaki Tourism and Convention Bureau)

Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture transforms into a rosy wonderland as April unfolds, courtesy of its flourishing cherry blossoms — it plays home to 2,600 trees boasting over 50 varieties, including the iconic someiyoshino and of course, the shidarezakura. These wondrous blooms draw over two million visitors during the annual Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival, where they traverse the Sakura Tunnel adorning the west moat, and also bear witness to the park's tranquil moat reflecting blooming sakura. As evening falls, immerse yourself in the mesmerising spectacle of illuminated sakura, casting a magical aura over Hirosaki Park and its storied past.

Hirosaki Park’s cherry blossoms are scheduled for viewing between 12 Apr – 5 May in 2024 and accessible within a 15-minute bus ride from JR Hirosaki Station via the Dotemachi Loop Bus, stopping at Shiyakusho-mae bus stop.