Hokkaido cherry blossoms typically bloom in early May and are a popular draw for tourists.
Most people think of cherry blossoms in full bloom when talking about spring in Japan. The blooming season of cherry blossoms gradually starts from the south, so actually Hokkaido cherry blossom season comes just as the main island of Japan is approaching early summer.
Enduring the long and harsh winter, Hokkaido sakura creates a simple scenery of spring emanating a rustic beauty. Here we will introduce 8 popular Hokkaido cherry blossom spots where you can bask in their beauty!
- Table of Contents
- When is Hokkaido cherry blossom season?
- Ezo-yamazakura: The most common variety of cherry blossoms in Hokkaido
- Jingisukan: A Hokkaido cherry blossom tradition
- 1. Matsumae Park: The hospitality of 10,000 cherry blossoms
- 2. Goryokaku Park: Enjoy Hokkaido cherry blossoms from the sky
- 3. Morimachi Oniushi Park: Featuring 19 kinds of cherry blossoms
- 4. Maruyama Park: A historical site filled with cherry blossoms
- 5. Noboribetsu Cherry Trees: A place that transforms into a flower tunnel
- 6. Nijūkken Road Cherry Blossoms: The largest in Japan!
- 7. Moerenuma Park: A fusion of nature and art in central Hokkaido
- 8. Nakajima Park: Where historical buildings and cherry blossoms meet
- 9. Odori Park: A popular hanami spot in Central Sapporo
- 10. Tsukisamu Park: Enjoy the cherry blossoms from a boat!
- 11. Asahiyama Park: The 3,500 Ezo-yamazakura cherry trees are a sight to behold!
- 12. Seiryu-ji Temple: A popular spot for late-blooming cherry blossoms
When is Hokkaido cherry blossom season?
Starting from the south of Japan in Okinawa in January, the cherry blossoms slowly creep their way up through Japan, finally arriving in Hokkaido in late April.
This phenomenon is called the Cherry Blossom Front and Japanese people await the blooming season in each of their locality.
Hokkaido cherry blossom season starts in late April which takes about a month to go through the entirety of Hokkaido. Known as a place of beautiful snowscapes, from late April is when the snow on the ground finally begins to melt, allowing the flowers to bloom.
In other areas, the cherry blossom is a symbol of the peak of spring, but in Hokkaido, it announces the arrival of spring.
Ezo-yamazakura: The most common variety of cherry blossoms in Hokkaido
Those who have seen the cherry blossoms in Honshu might think that the ones in Hokkaido somehow look brighter. This is because they are a slightly different variety.
While the number of the more popular Yoshino cherry tree has increased, the Sargent cherry tree, which bears a deeper pink color, is commonly found in Hokkaido.
Another characteristic of this cherry blossom is that red leaves come out together when the tree starts blooming, which makes it appear darker, emphasizing its rustic beauty.
Jingisukan: A Hokkaido cherry blossom tradition
It goes without saying that people in Hokkaido love cherry blossom viewing. When these trees start blooming, it has become a tradition to prepare a charcoal fire and meat - instead of bento or lunch boxes as in other parts of Japan - and start making Jingisukan, or Mongolian barbecue.
1. Matsumae Park: The hospitality of 10,000 cherry blossoms
Hokkaido cherry blossoms begin to bloom from the south. After a 2-hour-car ride from Hakodate, you will find Matsumae Park where Matsumae Castle is located.
This park has 250 kinds of cherry blossoms numbering to 10,000 trees, such as the single-flowered Yoshino cherry tree and the double-flowered Naden cherry tree. There are early-blooming, middle-blooming, and late-blooming cherry blossoms, which allows everyone to enjoy the flowers for a month.
The Matsumae Sakura Festival held from late April to mid-May hosts various events such as product fares featuring seafood and sweets and live performances.
Among these events, the highlight is the Samurai Procession featuring warriors wearing armors. You should also try the cherry blossom ice cream sold in the park at this time.
- Address Matsushiro, Matsumae Gun Matsumae Cho, Hokkaido 〒049-1511
TEL No.: 0139-42-2275 (Inquiry: Matsumae Town Hall, Commerce and Tourism Division)
2. Goryokaku Park: Enjoy Hokkaido cherry blossoms from the sky
Hakodate is also an area in Hokkaido where you can enjoy cherry blossoms in late April. Goryokaku was designated as a national special historic site and is now open as a park known for its famous cherry blossoms. You can eat jingisukan while enjoying cherry blossoms in designated areas.
The 107m-high Goryokaku Tower adjacent to the park is a spot where you can marvel at a unique view of the gorgeous Hokkaido cherry blossoms from above.
3. Morimachi Oniushi Park: Featuring 19 kinds of cherry blossoms
Oniushi Park, a famous spot for cherry blossoms, is located in Morimachi, about an hour by car from Hakodate City to the north. "Oniushi" means "a place where there are many trees" in Ainu language.
There are 19 types and about 500 cherry blossom trees in the park, which bloom one after another from late April to mid-May. Aside from the Yoshino cherry tree and
Ōyamazakura, this park also features rare cherry blossom trees endemic to Morimachi such as the Komamizakura and Horiizakura.
In particular, Komamizakura is a valuable variety which only bears a limited number of flowers. This variety was born in the middle of cultivating Morikomachi which is a cross between Horiizakura and Yoshino cherry blossoms.
The roadside station You Yū Mori located next to the Oniushi Park is a place where you can gaze at the cherry blossoms and Morimachi from the rooftop lounge.
Morimachi Oniushi Park森町・オニウシ公園
- Address 326-1, Uwadaicho, Kayabe Gun Mori Machi, Hokkaido 049-2311
TEL No.: 01374-2-2181 (Inquiry: Morimachi Town Hall, Commerce and Tourism Division)
4. Maruyama Park: A historical site filled with cherry blossoms
In May, the Cherry Blossom Front reaches Central Hokkaido, but in the early years, the front comes to Sapporo, which has a relatively higher temperature.
In Sapporo, Maruyama Park is a park that has long been a popular cherry blossom spot. About 150 cherry blossoms such as Sargent cherry tree and Yoshino cherry tree are planted in the park, and the best time to see them is from late April to mid-May.
Wild squirrels and wild birds can be seen in the park located on the north side of the Maruyama Genshirin designated as a national natural monument, where you can feel the nature of Hokkaido up close.
The cherry blossoms at Hokkaido Shrine next to Maruyama Park are also exceptional. In addition, you can also find a plum forest in Hokkaido Shrine. In several parts of Honshu, plum blooms from February to April while cherry trees blossom from March to April.
However, in Sapporo, plums and cherry blossoms bloom at the same time. In other words, Hokkaido Shrine is a place where you can enjoy both trees at the same time.
5. Noboribetsu Cherry Trees: A place that transforms into a flower tunnel
This is a row of cherry blossom trees en route to Noboribetsu Hot Spring from the Noboribetsu Station, which about an hour's drive from the New Chitose Airport.
In commemoration of the birth of the Crown Prince (and former Emperor) at that time in 1934, Sargent cherry trees were planted by citizens, whose entire length spans across 2 kilometers. These cherries bloom from early to mid-May and are widely known among the locals as a cherry blossom tunnel.
Noboribetsu is a famous hot spring area. It also has many tourist spots such as the hot spring spa, the Noboribetsu Jigokudani, which is an old crater formed by eruptions, and the natural footbath that you can enjoy while strolling through the woods.
Noboribetsu Cherry Trees登別桜並木
- Address Nakanoboribetsucho, Noboribetsu Shi, Hokkaido 059-0463
Phone number 0143-84-3311 (Noboribetsu International Tourism and Convention Association)
6. Nijūkken Road Cherry Blossoms: The largest in Japan!
The Nijūkken Road Sakura Namiki is located in Shinhidaka Town, about an hour and a half drive from New Chitose Airport. This is a 7-kilometer beautiful row of approximately 2,200 cherry blossom trees.
This road was originally built as a road for the royal family to visit the Imperial Farm (currently the Imperial Household Agency) of the Imperial Household in the area. In 1916, when Sargent cherries were transplanted from neighboring mountains, the road width was about 20 ken or 36 meters. Hence the name Nijūkken Road.
Many tourists from all over the country go to famous places featured in "The 100 Best Roads in Japan", "Top 100 Cherry Blossom Viewing Sites", and "Hokkaido Heritage".
The Shizunai Cherry Blossom Festival is held from the beginning of May to the middle of the flowering season where souvenirs are sold. In addition, “Ryuunkaku” is open to the public for a limited time during the Sakura Festival, and valuable national treasures will be displayed here.
7. Moerenuma Park: A fusion of nature and art in central Hokkaido
Moerenuma Park was designed by the sculptor Isamu Noguchi. It's a 30-minute drive from downtown Sapporo, and it sits on a vast site of 188.8 hectares. The park is decorated with glass pyramids and large monuments, with a variety of artworks in each section.
One of them, the Sakura Forest, is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. 1,800 cherry trees rise in and around seven playground areas. In early May, everything is covered with cherry blossoms (mainly Ezo-yamazakura, Kasumi-zakura, and Chishima-zakura). This is a perfect spot to enjoy cherry blossom viewing with children.
8. Nakajima Park: Where historical buildings and cherry blossoms meet
Nakajima Park is about 9 minutes walking from Susukino, one of Sapporo's most vibrant areas. There are about 400 cherry trees in Nakajima Park, and they include varieties such as Ezo-yamazakura, Somei-Yoshino, and Yae-zakura. The best time to visit is from late April to early May.
There are also historic buildings in the park. Some elegant must-see during spring in Sapporo, are the combination of cherry blossoms and the Hassouan teahouse in the Japanese garden, and the Hoheikan, a wooden Western-style building from the early Meiji period (1868-1912).
9. Odori Park: A popular hanami spot in Central Sapporo
Odori Park stretches for roughly 1.5km in the center of Sapporo City. In early May, its 50 cherry trees are in full bloom. Most of them are Ezo-yamazakura, Satozakura, and Somei-Yoshino cherry trees, but there are also Kasumi-zakura, Chishima-zakura, and Miyama-zakura varieties.
Every year in late April, the "corn wagon" opens for business in Odori Park, offering great Hokkaido Corn to be enjoyed while taking it the beauty of cherry blossoms, azaleas, tulips, and more flowers that delight visitors every spring.
10. Tsukisamu Park: Enjoy the cherry blossoms from a boat!
Tsukushima Park is a five-minute walk from Misono Station on the Toho subway line, a short distance from the center of Sapporo. The park sports tennis courts, and a golf course, as well as playgrounds, making it perfect for children and adults alike.
In the park's 22-hectare area, you can find Ezo-yamazakura cherry trees, and weeping cherry trees. You can definitely enjoy the blossoms while strolling in the park, but the best experience is the boat pond. The best time to see the blossoms from a boat is from the end of April to early May.
- Address 8-1, Misono 11jo, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 062-0011
Phone: 011-818-3150 Tsukisamu Park Management Office
・Operating Period: April 29 to October 11 (in 2020. 2021 to be determined)
・Opening hours: 10am-5pm (last boarding 4:30pm)
・Fee: 320yen per boat (30 minutes) for up to three adults
・Closed: Tuesday (open if Tuesday falls on a national holiday)
11. Asahiyama Park: The 3,500 Ezo-yamazakura cherry trees are a sight to behold!
The cherry blossom front usually reaches Northern Hokkaido in May. In the eastern part of Asahikawa City, at the foot of the 295-meter-high Asahiyama Park, about 3,500 Ezo-yamazakura cherry trees are in full bloom in early May. During this period, the park fills with people and stalls selling food and drinks.
At the Night Cherry Blossom Festival, held in the same period, the beautiful trees are illuminated. This is a great way to enjoy blossoms in different atmospheres in the daytime and at night. Since the park is adjacent to Asahiyama Zoo, it's particularly recommended for families.
- Address Kuranuma, Higashi Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido 078-8205, Japan
Phone: 0166-52-1934 (Asahikawa City Parks and Greenery Association)
12. Seiryu-ji Temple: A popular spot for late-blooming cherry blossoms
Seiryu-ji Temple in Nemuro City in the East Hokkaido area is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot that is considered the finishing line of the cherry blossom front. The best time to view cherry blossoms here is from mid-may to early June, when the Chishima cherry and Ezo-yamazakura, Hokkaido's representative cherry trees, are in bloom.
The Chishima cherry was transplanted from Kunashiri Island to Nemuro City in 1872 (at that time it was called Kunashiri cherry), and in 1903 it was transplanted to the precincts of Seiryuji Temple.
It's believed that the origin of many Chishima cherry trees in Hokkaido is Seiryu-ji Temple. The Chishimazakura is characterized by its short stature and branches that split from the base. The low-hanging flowers make their fragrance more enjoyable.
- Address 2-2, Matsumoto-cho, Nemuro, Hokkaido 087-0044, Japan
Phone: 0153-24-3104 (Nemuro City Tourism Association)
Text by: Minna no Kotobasha
Information as of the time of the interview.
Due to COVID-19, business hours may have changed, temporary closures may have been made, and services may have been altered.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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