March 28, 16 | nobu Kawashima

Hokkaido Shrine is the best view spot for both sakura and ume!

北海道神宮の桜と梅
 
 
In Sapporo, sakura and ume flowers bloom almost at the same time around Golden Week. If you get to visit sights where both trees are planted, you can see both flowers at the same time! The most famous Ohanami sight is Hokkaido Shrine in Maruyama area, Sapporo.
 
 

View sakura and ume at the same time!

There are about 1,400 sakura trees in Hokkaido Shrine. There are lots of kinds; deep pink colored Ezoyamasakura, Someiyoshino, Yaezakura, Chishimazakura, and Shidarezakura, which is a rare kind to see in Hokkaido.
On the other hand ume, there are about 250 trees with light pink and white flowers; Bungoume, Koubai, Hakubai, and more.
 
The picture below is how it was like on 6th May in 2014.
Climbing up the stairs from Kitaichijo Miyanozawa Street and crossing over the 2nd Torii, the both sides of Omotesando to the main shrine were all pink-colored.
 
 
北海道神宮の表参道に咲く桜
▲The row of Chishimazakura trees alongside Omotesando. Many people were taking pictures.
 
 
As walking along Omotesando, don’t keep going straight and turn left into the narrow alley. You will find ume trees around sakura. Ume was in full bloom too! You can walk along the white and light pink ume flowers. 
 
 
北海道神宮の梅林
▲There were many people taking pictures of ume flowers too.
 
 
However, both sakura and ume look light pink or white so it might be hard to notice the difference. Here is how to distinguish; the ones with round shape petal are ume, and the ones with sharp petal are sakura. 
 
 
北海道神宮に咲く梅の花
▲This is ume flower. The color contrast of blue sky and Hakubai (white ume) and Koubai (pink ume) was so beautiful.
 
 

Under the sakura trees, people are barbecuing Genghis Khan

There are more sakura trees across the ume trees. In this area, you can enjoy Hokkaido’s unique culture, eating Genghis Khan at Ohanami!
 
 
北海道神宮でのお花見ジンギスカン
▲There are people eating bento boxes and barbecuing Genghis Khan.
 
 
This area is the noisiest area in the Hokkaido Shrine’s large property. Many people are barbecuing and drinking beer. There are about 40 food strolls beside the area too.
For those of you who want to quietly see sakura, don’t worry. The area where you can sit down and eat and do Ohanami is very limited so if you step away a little, you won’t be bothered by their noises. Around ume trees is another restricted area to do Ohanami, so you can relax and quietly look at the flowers.
 
 
北海道神宮の境内にある開拓神社
▲“Kaitaku Shrine” in the area of Hokkaido Shrine. The area is very quiet and I could take a private time to look at the beautiful sakura flowers.
 
 

Why are there both sakura and ume in Hokkaido Shrine?

We will have to go back to Meiji era to reveal the reason. 
The beginning was in 1875, Senkichi Fukuyama, the follower of the father of Hokkaido settlers Yoshitake Shima, planted 150 sakura trees along the approach, to the repose of Yoshitake Shima’s soul. After that, more and more sakura trees were planted and breaded repeatedly, and Hokkaido Shrine became the famous sight for Ohanami in the middle of Meiji period. 
 
On the other hand ume, the volunteers of The Hokkaido Government Office planted at first as the celebration of the enthronement of Taisho Tenno in 1915. 
As Sapporo Streetcar extended in 1923, people who visit Hokkaido Shrine increased more and more. Now it has changed to subway from streetcar, but people still come and visit to see beautiful flowers of sakura and ume.
 
 
北海道神宮境内に建つ島義勇像
▲The statue of Yoshitake Shima in Hokkaido Shrine.
 
 

When does sakura and ume bloom in Sapporo?

This is how it was like on 19th April. It’s still early for Ohanami, but trees are colored pink lightly with buds.
 
 
北海道神宮の梅林、開花前後
▲I could see pink branches of ume trees when I took a look from a step away.
 
 
On this day, sakura seemed not blooming yet, but some ume flowers were starting to bloom. In this year, ume front came earlier than sakura. 
 
 
北海道神宮で開花した梅
▲Some of the ume flowers were blooming!
 
 
北海道神宮境内にある梅の切株
▲The new tree was growing from a stubble.
 
 
The average flowering date in Sapporo is 29th April for sakura and 1st May for ume. Comparing to Tokyo, as it is 26th March for sakura and 26th January for ume, I felt how flower season in Hokkaido is late in Japan.
Ume front moves very slowly comparing to sakura.
* Those data are from Japan Meteorological Agency.
 
In Sapporo, where ume front and sakura front comes at the same time, both flowers bloom almost at the same time. You can see both flowers in Hokkaido Shrine, where both trees are planted. How about going on double flowers Ohanami? 
  • Hokkaido Shrine is the best view spot for both sakura and ume!
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