In spring, when you think of visiting Akita prefecture, first you must think of its biggest annual cherry blossom festival. The festival is widely known as Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Festival. Kakunodate is a famous castle town of Tohoku region, located in central Akita prefecture. In the spring you are offered to see two magnificent hanami spots here which are worth visiting when it comes to exploring late blooming cherry blossom. Kakunodate samurai district and the riverbanks of Hinokinai feature a delightful atmosphere to have a pretty memorable time in this area. In fact, these are two places where the festival takes place with lots of fun things to do and see around. I bet you would hardly manage yourself not to fall in love with this festival.
If you have missed Kansai and Kanto regions best hanami spots this year then please don’t get offended. You still have got a number of best cherry blossom spots to explore in Tohoku and Hokkaido regions. Perhaps, hanami in Tohoku would be much more delightful than in Hokkaido. But this is just my thought, don’t rely on it, you better head to Hokkaido from Aomori by shinkansen and let your mind imagine the real spring beauty of Hokkaido. And, make sure you must visit Akita to see the festival which usually held in late April to Early May. If you are serious of visiting this great hanami spot then please read the whole article as I will be sharing important travel tips with you here.
Hanami in Kakunodate
Hanami or cherry blossom viewing is quite impressive here in Kakunodate. It did meet my expectation when I first came to this town back in 2005. Before my arrival to Kakunodate in the spring of that year I was informed about the sakura matsuri from my parents a long time ago though. That was not the last time I had ever visited this town rather I had to manage time to spend a day trip several times before. Every trip was just GREAT with a lot of memories to bring back home from. You would understand the feelings I had during my visits until you take a trip to Kakunodate during its cherry blossom festival. The peak season when sakura trees are in full glory is between late April and early Mach. I am telling you this because you have got to come here during the peak season to enjoy its utmost beauty.
I want you to pack your things as soon as possible and have a great time during the best holiday season of Japan which is known as the Golden Week. It is amazingly great to have an outdoor picnic party on the riverbanks of Hinokinai River as it runs through Kakunodate where there are about 400 cherry trees planted along the banks. The river flows at its own way as you enjoy your time experiencing the festive events including gazing at the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Walking through the paths of the samurai district where there are many weeping cherry trees lined the streets is pretty divine to me. Simply you would get back to the old days as your eyes are expected to stick on the old samurai residences, walls, and the cherry trees. There is nothing to compare with this sakura matsuri once all the cherry trees are in full bloom.
About the Festival
Many festivals come around us all year round. For example, in the town Kakunodate, it features four seasonal festivals and the most important one certainly is the Kakunodate Sakura Matsuri. It is just my personal opinion as I do like being attached with spring nature. Though some people may not agree with this, it is ok for me because I respect your opinion as well. The festival is the sign of spring arrival in Akita prefecture, no doubt about that. This sort of festival is not just about delicious foods but also for fabulous dance and music performances. If you dare then compare these two cherry blossom spots in which the festival is celebrated by the millions of visitors. Though, I am afraid that you are going to make it, it will be a real hard task for you to decide.
Sakura at Kakunodate Samurai District
A very few people get board after taking a stroll along the paths of the samurai residences. While walking you would be thinking like branches of blossoms want to weep over to you. There are two main reasons why you should come to this spot, one is for the weeping cherry blossoms and other one is for the old samurai houses. It is splendid, how beautiful they could be when sakura start blooming till they are in their full glory and then touch the grounds. The area consists of many historical buildings such as samurai houses, gates, walls, temples, remains shrines, and merchants’ storehouses. These are all well preserved! The weeping cherry trees you see there are pretty old which were planted during the Edo period. It is said that they were imported from Kyoto by local samurai families who used to reside in this castle town area.
This is one of the most popular hanami spots in Japan and three famous cherry blossom spots of Tohoku region along with Hirosaki Park in Aomori prefecture and Tenshochi Park in Kitakami city, Iwate prefecture. Please, get there on a sunny day because everything looks there very bright and gorgeous. It helps you to take better photograph of the delicate weeping cherry blossoms and historical buildings located nearby. While walking along the streets walk through the footpath and make sure you walk carefully as many cars and a few numbers of rickshaws may pass through. You can get in some of the samurai houses as they are fully open for public while rest of the others cannot be accessed. It is a crowded hanami spot especially during the weekends. If you feel not great with crowds then avoid the weekends.
Hinokinai Riverside Cherry Blossom
I don’t think you would like to walk through a 2 kilometer long cherry tree tunnel, would you? Though, this is not a daunting task to get the job done. If you have time then you could try as you are suggested to have some rest along the way till you reach to its end point. This is an ideal outdoor hanami picnic party spot while samurai district don’t let you do that. You just choose a nice spot on the riverbank of Hinokinai River and your job is half done! Then prepare yourself to serve the foods to your family members or friends. Before doing it please make sure you buy foods from the food stalls that take places there. They are quite easy to spot as they provide chairs and tables to serve you delicious dishes. You buy foods from the stalls and just take them away to your picnic spot; this is the way you have to do it.
However, the Hinokinai River runs through Kakunodate which is a short walk away from the samurai district. It has about 400 Somei Yoshino cherry trees that were planted along the riverbanks of Hinokinai. This hanami spot is designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty by the national government. In fact, this is a popular walking place which provides nature’s changing colors throughout the year. Along the riverbank, visitors expect to have a picnic party under the sakura tree blossoms. If you are residing in Akita with your family then your this year spring hanami picnic party can be observed in this beautiful cherry blossom spot. Get here by your car and I wish you would definitely have a great day. To be honest with you, it will be fascinating to visit both Kakunodate samurai residences as well as Hinokinai riverside during the festival.
How to Get There
I went to Kakunodate in search of Edo period of history as well as its outstanding cherry blossoms display. My expectation was high and it did give me what I expected before. Everyone should get there as it is very easy to get to Kakunodate taking only about a 45-mintue bullet train (JR Akita Shinkansen) ride from Akita city. If you want to drive by yourself then it is fine, you can do it!
You get off the train at JR Kakunodate Station from where you need to walk for 15 minutes to reach to the festival site. If you don’t want to walk then just take a taxi from the station. That’s it! Though, the best way of travelling around Kakunodate is on foot. If you are to stay a night in this town then please stay at Hotel Folklore Kakunodate. It is the nearest hotel I have found so far in Kakunodate.
I Hope you are coming to Visit Kakunodate!
For those who are not thrilled by the hanami of Tokyo there is always the option of visiting several popular cherry blossom spots in Tohoku region. I do hope you all would someday make a trip to this wonderful sakura matsuri where the Edo period of history seems still alive as you walk through the lined cherry blossoms street. There is still a lot of time left for you, so why not to take a break and visit Kakunodate at once?! Accessing to this quiet town is easy from Tokyo. So take is advantage and enjoy you a day trip visiting not only the hanami spots here but also the museums, Lake Tazawa, and Kakunodate castle ruins.
The city itself has earned a nickname “Little Kyoto” for its outstanding old buildings. The festival allows you to feel the history of the past and delicate cherry blossoms. You want to travel back in time to enjoy hanami in the Edo period? Then this is the ideal and exclusive place for you. A lot of fun for all ages involved during the festival. Eat its local delicacies, buy souvenirs, and experience the beauty of spring. If you want to visit other famous cherry blossom spots of Tohoku then visit here. Thank you and enjoy!
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis