Hanami has arrived! The cherry trees have bloomed beautifully with delightful blossoms in many parts of Japan. Lately, some cherry trees are being prepared to be bloomed, some are at their full glory, some sakura are yet waiting to touch the grounds and sadly some have already touched the grounds! This is the nature of sakura. They act with freedom where we have no control over them. “Don’t fall off now” we can request it to them, can we? It is our freedom that we can go under the sakura trees and observe their delicate blossoms. Not all of them appear in same color or bloom at the same time. We could differentiate them seeing their number of petals, shapes, colors, and blooming period. If you are a sakura lover but don’t know much of its type then you must read this article.
Today, my job is to make you familiar with the 10 most popular sakura varieties you usually see around here in Japan during its spring season. There are so many cherry blossom spots you could visit throughout Japan. Some of these spots are quite famous for having some particular sakura varieties. For example, Kakunodate samurai district is a place for beautiful Shidarezakura or weeping cherry blossoms. While on the other hand, the small town – Kawazu is renowned for its splendid Kawazuzakura. Honestly, except these I could bring some other famous hanami spots here which are truly gorgeous with particular sakura varieties. Let’s take a look at the sakura varieties of Japan.
Kawazuzakura is an earliest blossoming sakura in Japan. A large number of Kawazuzakura is mostly found in a small town called Kawazu, Izu Peninsula. This sakura variety usually starts blooming in early February. There is a cherry blossom festival called Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival that is held in Kawazu town from early February to early March, attracting millions of tourists yearly. In fact when most people travel to Kawazu, they go for one thing: Sakura Matsuri. Please read about the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival.
It is a five petals sakura, comes in pink color and its petal size is a little bit bigger than other sakura variety. The blossoms can be seen with fresh green leaves bursting into life during its peak season. The life span of this sakura is remarkably longer than rest of the sakura varieties you find in Japan.
2) Someiyoshino (Yoshino Cherry)
It is said that there are over one hundred cherry varieties can be found in Japan including wild cherry. And among these Yoshino cherry is recognized to be the most popular one. It is a mixture of Edohigan Zakura and Oshimazakura. The petals are slightly pink though they look pretty white. Each flower bud blooms with five petals in total. Usually, a large numbers of Yoshino cherry trees were planted during the Edo period. The oldest Somei Yoshino cherry tree of Japan is located in Hirosaki Park, Aomori Prefecture. It was planted in 1882 and still it looks pretty energetic.
The blooming period starts in early April but reach its peak season in later April. There is a fact you should know is that its fresh leaf does not appear until the petals fall down to the grounds. If you want to see a large number of Someiyoshino in a single hanami spot the head to Hirosaki Park. It hosts a lovely cherry blossom festival from later April to early March. If you want to have a Yoshino cherry tree in your yard then get these seeds.
3) Takato Kohigan Sakura
This sakura variety is only found in the grounds of Takato Castle Ruins Park, located in Nagano prefecture. This is a unique kind of sakura that blooms in early April. It is a five petals sakura variety, comes in a soft reddish pink color. And due to its excessive number of blossoms, the little branches of the trees could hardly be seen from a little bit far distance.
The castle ruins park has approximately 1,500 cherry trees, in which all are same variety. If you don’t want to miss a great hanami spot like this then please get there in mid April and enjoy the show of exclusive Takato Kohigan sakura blossoms. I once head off to JR Aomori station and hop on a train for two day trip to Nagano to have a hanami party there.
4) Shidarezakura (Weeping cherry)
Weeping cherry is my favorite among others, I really adore it. Because of its beautiful appearance I once had to go to Kakunodate samurai district as it has lined Shidarezakura trees along the streets. There are many weeping cherry trees in Tohoku such as a giant one called Miharu Takizakura, located in Fukushima prefecture. It is a really big and said to be more than 1,000 years old. This is quite impressive to know!
However, the blossoms look very beautiful once they reach to their peak season. One of the main characteristic of this kind sakura is the dropping branches. Weeping cherry trees have such a lovely dropping braches that they seem like they want to touch you when you pass them by. There are two types of weeping cherry trees; one has five petals while on the other hand other one has more than 5 petals, that it is known as Yaeshidarezakura. They bloom in early April and have a long lifespan. If you want to view a large number of beautiful weeping cherry blossoms then get to Kakunodate cherry blossom festival.
Yamazakura is a wild cherry blossom tree. It is the most common wildly growing cherry tree you would ever find in Japan. If you ever been to Yoshinoyama during spring season then I think you know the real beauty of Yamazakura. Yoshinoyama is a mountain, located in Nara prefecture and known for its massive cherry grove throughout its mountainsides. It is one of the best hanami spots all over Japan. The slopes of the mountain are covered with this sakura variety.
In comparison with Yoshino cherry tree, its petal is slightly smaller though have the same numbers of petals as Yoshino cherry. Its blossoms are slightly pink and dark reddish leaf start to grow at the same time as the blossoms. The Yamazakura blooming season starts in early April.
Ichiyo is another common sakura variety that blooms in mid April, especially in Kanto region. It is a kind of late blooming sakura that has more than five petals. Usually it consists of about 20-30 petals and flowers become light pink with fresh leaves. It is robust, looking amazingly gorgeous when they are at full bloom. You can see Ichiyo cherry blossoms in many parks and gardens throughout Japan.
7) Edohigan Zakura
Does it look like Someiyoshino? You may thing so as it is the parent of it. This is a popular sakura variety mostly found in Kanto region though it could be hardly seen in Okinawa and Hokkaido regions. There is a huge Edogigan zakura tree in Usuzumi Park, Gifu Prefecture. The tree was planted by Japan’s Emperor Keitai in the 6th century; its current age is about 1,500 years old and 16 meters tall. No doubt, this is one of the oldest sakura trees in Japan.
The blossom is similar to Yoshino cherry but petals are relatively small. Edohigan zakura blossoms bloom in late March but it may differ due to weather condition. If it does not bloom in late march it would surly start blooming in early April. Its pale pink beautiful blossoms and the long lifespan make this variety very unique and exceptional.
Kanhizakura has got its own reputation for its unique appearance. It is a popular sakura type in Okinawa and native to Taiwan. In Southern part of Japan, the blooming period starts between January and February where on the other hand, Kanhizakura bloom in early March in Honshu Island, Japan.
The blossom shape of Kanhizakura is like a bell. It has a dropping figure and not opening the blossoms all the way. Is not it interesting? When it comes to color and shape then it is quite impressive to know that it has a dark pink color like some ume flowers and each blossom has five petals. You can go to Mount Yaedak in Okinawa where thousands of Kanhizakura bloom and reach its peak period in early February.
Kanzan is said to be the most common of among the many yaezakura varieties. It is a delightful cherry flower bursting into life in late April. It shows its utmost beauty right after the end of Someiyoshino regime. It has about 30-50 light pink petals with fresh brown color leave. Usually the leaves start to appear before the blossoms fall down to the grounds. When you take a look at it, you would be thoroughly impressed by both the petals and the color.
It is a hundred petals cherry blossom variety, a quite popular in Japan as a late blooming sakura. One of the facts of this kind skaura is that the leaf and blossom appear almost around the same time. That’s for why you see green leaves with light pink color blossoms. Kikuzakura leaf is bigger compared with the rest of the sakura tree leaves here I have described. In Tokyo, you can find this in various public parks and garden where they start to bloom around late April to early May.
You have been informed about the 10 most common sakura varieties of Japan. In fact, there are more other types of which some of even bloom in autumn season such as the Jugatsuzakura or so called autumn cherry. There are other sakura varieties which are no less popular than these, for example: Oshimazakura, Shogetsu, Fugenzo, and Ukon. Hopefully, this article helps to get to know each and every cherry blossom variety described above. Thank you.
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