The small town Kawazu is famous for viewing early cherry blossom in Japan. When February arrives, everything sounds peaceful and exciting to the locals as they still keep waiting to see the early blossoms of Kawazuzakura. Yes, they eagerly wait for it until few buds of the trees are in full bloom. This year, the Kawazu sakura matsuri has already begun on 10 February, but yet it will take few more days to create a great festive atmosphere. Please note that, the festival will be celebrated by millions of visitors till 10 March, 2016. So, if you are coming to visit Japan this year in March then try not to miss this spring matsuri. Some overwhelming moments are waiting for you there.
I hardly miss an event that is related to flower viewing. In the past, before writing travel articles here in this site I promised myself that as long as I am able to walk, I would keep exploring the scenic places all over Japan. I keep my promise every now and then though. A few years back from now, I made a trip to this festival which taught me how to love the nature. I am not kidding! The Northeast Japan is very cold compared to central Japan, so we do find a way to escape from it and wish to see early blooming to inspire our daily life as the earth seems to come to life again and awaken. In fact, Kawazu sakura matsuri is the one offering you a lot inspiration and welcoming a lovely hanami season.
What is Kawazu-Zakura?
Kawazuzakura is a kind of sakura variety that is remarked as an early blooming sakura. It is a five petals sakura similar to Somei Yoshino, Yamazakura, and Kanazakura. The flower is deep pink with large petals. A large number of Kawazuzakura trees are commonly found only in Kawazu town. It was named after this city, located on Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture. According to Kawazu Tourist Association, approximately 8,000 Kawazu-zakura cherry trees are in their full glory in early March.
It is said that Kawazuzakura trees were first discovered by Kawazu residents in 1950. Later, they were planted systematically along the riverside of Kawazu River and various neighborhoods across the town. It was simply a great decision! An idea can change your life, that’s true. Those who planted these cherry trees just did not create a great place to have pleasant hanami party, but also for their future generation who could feel the spirit of real beauty of Kawazuzakura for years after years.
About the Festival
Here, I share with you my insider tips on the best things to do and explore. My all time favorite part of any hanami expedition is viewing sakura as long as I get tired, and Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival has it in abundance as you really have to walk to experience millions of sakura blossoms. With the festival on, there are so many things you could explore here such as you can taste local dishes, buy unique souvenirs, stroll around the whole town, stage performance, and have a relax time at local onsen including footbath. Staying a night will not be a bad idea. In fact, I stayed a night at one of the local onsen in Kawazu. The service was excellent!
One thing that seems to me a great souvenir of all – is a small Kawazu-zakura cherry tree. You can buy one or two and then take it back to your home. Please take it seriously because I mean it.
Don’t get scared if I say that every year, there are more than 2 million tourists visit this popular hanami spot. In fact, a lot of tourists from Tokyo start heading to Kawazu before end of the festival. Do you know why does it happen? The distance between Kawazu and Tokyo is not that much far (about 3 hours by train) like between Kyoto and Tokyo. On the other hand, everyone waits to see early cherry blossoms as hanami usually arrives in Tokyo in early April. On my way to Kawazu from Tokyo, next to my seat there was a gentleman who seemed to me so excited. “I can’t wait anymore to see this year early sakura blossom that is why heading to Kawazu today and it is expensive traveling to Okinawa from Tokyo” – said the man who sat next to me. I agreed with this statement, not everyone have a sound travel budget around Tokyo, let alone traveling in Okinawa to see its early blossoms!
In my opinion, the best time to visit Kawazu sakura festival is the last week before the final day of the festival. It could be crowded, but there is nothing to do with it because everyone wants to be there at the peak time. In general, cherry blossoms are expected to be seen first at the spot where the Kawazu River flows into the ocean. Then slowly it moves north towards the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls. On the way, I think it will not be a daunting task to spot the five original Kawzu-zakura trees. They are extremely beautiful! The main festival usually takes place alongside the riverbank, which is lined by rows of Kawazu cherry trees extending about four kilometers. This is certainly a great tunnel of thousands pink sakura blossoms trees. A breathtaking view is about to appear! Whether you believe it or not that, I have walked till I reached to the last stop which I mean to Kawazu Seven Waterfalls.
While walking you can have some rest and have some street foods from the food stalls. Don’t be surprised seeing rape blossoms on the grounds along with sakura trees. They both create a great visual image that you should find some angles crossing the bridges and capture the beauty of it with your camera. If you are a professional photographer then you know how to create a perfect photograph. Go ahead and show your talent!
Earlier I suggested you to stay a night there. Here I say it again because I don’t want you miss the night illuminations of the sakura trees. That’s a completely different moment that you see on day time. The trees are lit up from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm everyday during the festival. Hopefully you will not end up your journey just viewing sakura on day time. And finally, the weather there still could be cold, so check the weather forecast before you go there and wear a light jacket.
How to Get There?
Access to Kawazu town is easy from Tokyo, Atami and Shizuoka. Those who would like drive can easily get in there by a rental car service. But for those who would like to get there by train should know few routes. If you are coming from Tokyo station then take the Odoriko limited express train (Operated by JR East) on the Izukyu Railway Line and it will directly take you to JR Kawazu station. It is my favorite way to get there. Get off the train and to see lined sakura trees it is a couple of minutes’ walk from the station. Though getting to the main festival area could take 5 to 6 minutes’ walk. There is another alternative way, take Tokaido Shinkansen (Bullet train) from Tokyo station to get to Atami Station then change JR Ito Line to Kawazu Station. And if you are coming from Shizuoka Station then, the possible and best way to get to Kawazu station is – just take Tokaido Shinkansen to Atami Station. Please visit this page for more info and possible routes to get to the festival site.
Where to Stay?
There is a highly recommended ryokan called Zen no Yu. I stayed in this Ryokan and I was surprised to see their excellent accommodation service. It provides indoor/outdoor hot springs baths for its customer along with free Wi-Fi, free parking lot and other needful facilities that you expect from a traditional Japanese style inn. In fact the rooms are so beautiful and clean that you would not bother to stay few more days. Find a room in this Ryokan now. Though if you don’t find any rooms there then check out the following hotels near the festival site.
Important Things to Know
Venue: Kawazu Sakura Matsuri in Kawazu Town
Festival Period: 10 February – 10 March, 2016
Address: Kawazu Tourist Association, 72-12, sasahara, kawazu-cho, kamo-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture, 413-0512, Japan
Parking Lot: Yes
Fax No: 0558-34-0864
Official Website: http://kawazu-onsen.com/sakura/index.html
With picturesque landscapes, thousands of sakura blossom trees, and impossibly beautiful town Kawazu offers a great spring holiday spot. The festival is well organized as the town itself. Tourists there hardly get into any trouble, everything sounds amazing there. Shizuoka seems to me really splendid with two early flower blooming festivals: Atami Baien Plum Festival and Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival. You can enjoy these events with one single trip. Hopefully, you would think of this idea and make your trip even more exciting! Thank you.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis