Hanami season is rapidly approaching. It means the spring holiday is not far away, everything here will be filled with a lot of excitement. We can expect it, can’t we? When most people travel to Japan during spring, they go for one big thing: cherry blossom viewing or so called HANAMI. Japan is one of the only places on earth where hanami can be enjoyed thoroughly as it is the birthplace of it. I have traveled so many places inside Japan and visiting it in the spring is exceptional. While celebrating it in different locations throughout the country I have found some famous and giant cherry blossom trees which look fabulous with their shapes, branches, age and blossoms.
You will have an absolute nightmare if you don’t see these sorts of sakura trees in Japan. Soon, I will be sharing the sakura trees that I discovered through my distinct hanami expeditions. In search of something unique and pleasant here in Japan, you have got to be a nature explorer. And I believe what I have bought to you here is unique and a must thing you could do during your visit to Japan in the spring. In the land of the rising sun, there are over thousand years old cherry trees around us. Their heavy old aged branches are usually supported by wooden poles and it is quite similar to us who need support from others at old age. Are not you serious to discover them all? If you are then keep reading!
1) Miharu Takizakura
Miharu is a small town located in central Fukushima. It has beautiful paddy fields around it. But one thing Miharu is famous for its Takizakura which literally means “waterfall cherry tree”. Take a look at the curved branches of it and it does sound like waterfall. It is a giant weeping cherry tree that looks stunning beautiful in mid April as it gets decorated with pink blossoms. It is about 12 meters tall and more than 1000 years old. Each year, millions of visitors come here to see this one of the oldest cherry trees of Japan. A designated national natural monument like this should be in your Japan travel bucket list.
2) Usuzumi Zakura
Usuzumi zakura is one of the great sakura trees of Japan along with Miharu Takizakura and Jindai zakura. It is more than 1,500 years old cherry tree and 16m tall which was recognized as National Natural Monument by the Japanese Government in 1922. This ancient sakura tree is located in Neo village, Motosu district, Gifu prefecture. What does Usuzumi zakura mean? It means “Pale grey ink cherry blossom”. There is an interesting fact which is – prior to the flowers’ opening, fresh new flower buds look pink, but when they are in full glory and before the petals hit the grounds they are completely white. It is believed that this 16 meters tall cherry tree was planted by Japan’s Emperor Keitai in the 6th century.
3) Yamataka Jindaizakura
If you first look at this giant sakura tree’s trunk then you would think of a banyan tree. Yes, its shape looks pretty similar to a large size banyan tree. It is believed to have been planted 2000 years ago by Price Yamoto Takeru (Son of Emperor Keiko). This is said to be the oldest sakura tree of Japan as some of the big branches were abolished, but still it shows its absolute beauty in spring. It is located in the grounds of Jissoji Temple, Yamanashi Prefecture. It is very impressive looking giant sakura tree of Edo-higan variety. According to Jissoji Temple head priest, the height of the tree was about 13.6m in 1922 and 10.3m in 2006. Early April is the best time to view sakura here though flower opening depends of weather condition.
4) Sakura of Wanitsuka
This is not a weeping cherry tree, but Edo-higan sakura tree. It is located in Nirasaki city, central part of Yamanashi Prefecture. Locals of Nirasaki city enthusiastically get here to have a great hanami party. In fact, when I was there, I meet few visitors who came from Atami as well. This is one of the loveliest cherry trees of Japan that is about 17m tall and 300 years old. In comparison with the above three classic cherry trees it is quite young. During the full bloom season the entire tree is illuminated with lights and looks majestically wonderful at night. When the weather is clear, you can also enjoy a picturesque view of Mt. Yatsugatake over the tree. That’s simply pretty impressive and surprising.
5) Obira Zakura
Obira Zakura is a mighty one just like Wanitsuka. The age of this sakura tree is about 600 years. It sounds pretty old, no doubt. Surprise! It is on my list of the most beautiful and giant sakura trees in Japan. I had to add it because I was astonished seeing the shape and blossoms there. Once I went to visit Matsue Castle and thought visiting Obirza Zakura would make my trip completely different. The tree is located in a small town called Misumi, Shimane Prefecture. Please note that, early April is the ideal time to enjoy hanami here.
6) The Shidare Sakura in Maruyama Park
The giant Shidare sakura or weeping cherry tree is the true spring icon of Maruyama Park. Kyoto features a lot of Japan’s most prominent cherry blossom viewing spots and Maruyama Park is the one you should head to for viewing its giant Shidare Sakura. Nothing can beat it, it is unique and completely different than those of the cherry tress you find in Kyoto. At night it gets lit up and surprisingly no matter what you do inside the park area your eyes would like to stick with it for long time. You can have you dinner served by various food stalls there.
7) Rikugien Garden Shidare Zakura
Rikugien garden is one of the most beautiful Japanese landscape garden in Tokyo that is quite popular spot to see colorful autumn leaves. Though, in springtime a lot of visitors pay attention to its giant Shidare Zakura tree/weeping cherry tree. There is a number of weeping sherry trees located near the main gate. The large one you find there is key reason to be there during hanami season. It is about 15 meters tall, gets illuminated by light at night. There is a fence around the tree which you can’t cross over it.
Ishiwarizakura or the rock splitting cherry tree is the unique one that you would like to discover delightfully as a sakura lover. It is about 10 meters tall and more than 380 years old Edo-higan variety of cherry tree that has grown out of the crack in a large boulder. You can see this beautiful cherry tree in front of the Morioka Courthouse. It is said that in 1932 there was a fire at the courthouse. Firemen and especially Fujimura Jitaro (a gardener) saved this tree from a fire damage risking his own life. It is a national natural monument of Japan which is worth a visit during your hanami holidays in Iwate.
9) The Somei Yoshino of Hirosaki Park
Hirosaki Park is one of the most popular hanami spots in all over Japan. If you miss sakura in Kyoto then I highly suggest you to get to Aomori prefecture. In fact, this is where Hirosaki Park is located. It has a 134 years old Yoshino cherry tree which is recognized as the oldest Yoshino cherry tree in Japan. The lifespan of Yoshino cherry is shorter than weeping cherry tree. Knowing the fact, it is pretty impressive to know that Aomori has the 134 years old Yoshino cherry tree and it is still counting. Though, you will be observing other big sakura trees inside the park area. I hope we see sakura every year from this majestic tree. Find more info about this hanami spot here.
10) Lonely Sakura at Koiwai Farm
Not everyone in this world lives with company; a lot of us live lonely. If you believe in this then you would also believe that there is one and only beautiful sakura tree in meadow of Koiwai Farm in Iwate prefecture. Next to it, there is nothing, but only green grasses and the picturesque view of snow-capped Mt Iwate in the far distance. During spring, it is truly splendid spot to spend few hours gazing at the 100 years old tree and the Mt. Iwate ranges. Come here in late April to see the solitary cherry tree’s blossoms and hopefully you would be able to enjoy your time viewing surrounding landscape of Koiwai Farm.
I have described the top 10 famous cherry blossom trees of Japan. What do you feel now? Would you have time to visit at least some of these for this year’s hanami season? Time will tell! Though, try your best, and good luck. These are the cherry trees that I have come across so far. Probably, there are other oldest sakura trees somewhere in Japan which are still hidden to my imagination. I hope if I find such I would update this post right away. Don’t be late; buy travel insurance for Japan, collect your JR Pass, book hotels & airline tickets in advance and keep your eyes on the cherry blossom forecast for the latest news before you come to Japan in spring. Thank you.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis