* This article was written in 2014.
The cherry blossom front is soon coming to the northern land! Spring is finally here in Hokkaido.
For those of you in Hokkaido, the long-awaited hanami (cherry blossoms viewing) season is here.
For those of you in other parts of Japan, it’s the 2nd chance to enjoy hanami this year.
Why don’t you plan to go see beautiful cherry blossoms? This article introduces the most famous cherry blossom viewing sights in Hokkaido.
“Matsumae Park” (Matsumae-cho) , cherry blossoms in Hokkaido start blooming from here
Matsumae Park is the first sight that cherry blossoms start blooming in Hokkaido. Not only it blooms early, but another characteristic is that flowers are enjoyable for about a month. There are about 250 kinds and over 10,000 sakura in Matsumae Park, and each kind starts blooming one by one at different periods from late April to late May.
As the sight is one of the “Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots”, this is one of the most major sights to enjoy cherry blossoms in Hokkaido. “Matsumae Sakura Festival” is held every year during the sakura season. (in 2014 it was 26th April to 18th May)
Enjoy cherry blossoms with Matsumae Castle, the symbol of Matsumae Park
The best time to see / late April to late May
“Goryokaku Park” (Hakodate), the beautiful bird’s-eye view of the pink star
“Goryokaku” is a special historic site, where was the site of “The Battle of Hakodate” 150 years ago. In Goryokaku Park, about 1,600 cherry trees are planted around the star-shaped moat.
It is also fun to view the cherry blossoms by walking around the park, but I would recommend climbing up the observation platform of Goryokaku Tower, which stands adjacent to the fort. You can enjoy the bird’s-eye view of the pink star-shaped Goryokaku from here.
▲You can enjoy the pink shaped star from the observation platform of Goryokaku Tower. (Photo by Goryokaku Tower)
▲The Goryokaku Tower viewed from Goryokaku Park when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. (Photo by Goryokaku Tower)
▲A cherry tree in Goryokaku Park by Hakodate Magistrate’s Office.
The best time to see / late April to early May
“Nijukken Road Cherry Blossom Trees” (Shinhidaka-cho), a straight cherry tree-lined road!
“Nijukken Road Cherry Blossom Trees” is a straight road about 7 kilometers long and 36 meters wide. Cherry blossom sights this big is really rare throughout Japan. “Nijukken Road Cherry Blossom Trees” is selected as one of the “Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots” and “Best 100 Roads of Japan”.
Driving this road is a must-have experience but it is also highly recommended to take a slow walk down the road. You can enjoy attractions that can only be felt when you walk, such as, the straight road with cherry blossoms and the “Flower Tunnel”, where cherry blossoms cover the road like a tunnel.
▲“Nijukken Road Cherry Blossom Trees”, the straight road with cherry trees (mostly sergeant cherry trees). (Photo by Shinhidaka-cho)
<Nijukken Road Cherry Blossom Trees>
The best time to see / early May to mid-May
“Maruyama Park” (Sapporo), the sight probably all Sapporo citizens have visited at least once
Of all the famous cherry blossom sights in Sapporo, one of the most famous sights is “Maruyama Park”. Even they only have 150 trees, which is not a big number comparing to other sights, many people visit here to see cherry blossoms, together with Hokkaido Shrine next to Maruyama Park.
The uniqueness of hanami at “Maruyama Park” is having Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbecue! Using fire is normally prohibited in the park, but the park allows using fire during the hanami season. Under the cherry blossom trees in full bloom, the delicious smell of barbecue is around everywhere. This is a scenery to feel that spring came to Sapporo.
▲Beer is delicious! Maruyama Park where you can enjoy “Hanami Genghis Khan”. (Photo by Maruyama Park Maintenance Office)
▲Cherry blossoms and ume at Hokkaido Shrine next to the park is also beautiful!
The best time to see / early May to mid-May
“Tenguyama” (Otaru), the cherry blossom tree with great view
There are few famous cherry blossom sights in Otaru such as Temiya Park. Of all the sights, a unique sight is “Tengu Sakura” located on the summit of Tenguyama, right beside the Gondola station of Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway.
There is only one cherry tree here. But you don’t have to get disappointed. The view at the back of this tree is amazing! The whole view of Otaru city and Ishikari Bay is so beautiful that it makes us forget all unpleasant things.
The single cherry tree stands with the astonishing view. Because it is on the mountain, it is said to be the latest cherry blossom to start blooming.
▲You can enjoy the view with sakura at Tenguyama in spring. (Photo by Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway)
<Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway>
The best time to see / late May
“Seiryu-ji Temple” (Nemuro), the largest Chishimazakura in Japan, where the sakura front comes at last
Cherry blossoms in Nemuro city, the easternmost area in Hokkaido, finally start blooming when western Japan is almost in the season of Tsuyu (rainy season). Seiryu-ji Temple is famous for being the latest cherry blossoms sight of blooming, and having the largest Chishimazakura in Japan.
Chishimazakura trees are brought from Kunashiri Island by the parishioners during the Meiji era, and the oldest tree is about 150 years old. The characteristics of Chishimazakura are the strong smell and its change of the color; light pink when starting and ending to bloom and white when it’s in full bloom. How about visiting here for the last cherry blossom viewing this year?
▲Chishimazakura trees and sergeant cherry trees bloom inside the property of the temple. (Photo by Nemuro City Government)
The best time to see / late May to early June
The cherry blossom sights in this article are just a few of the famous ones. 1-2 month from the end of April, you will get to see the cherry blossoms at every park and street in the city, and high altitude mountains in June.
Where would you want to go? Enjoy the spring in Hokkaido!
Written by / Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima
* Some of the photos are provided by Matsumae-cho government.