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20km Cherry Blossom Tunnel! Japan’s Mt. Iwaki Has “The World's Longest Cherry-Lined Road”

20km Cherry Blossom Tunnel! Japan’s Mt. Iwaki Has “The World's Longest Cherry-Lined Road”

Date published: 6 March 2020
Last updated: 3 February 2021

Hop to the northeast and you can find an incredible cherry blossom tunnel in Japan! The Iwaki district is west of Hirosaki City in Aomori Prefecture, and located at the foot of beautiful Mt. Iwaki is “The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road.”

There, about 6,500 cherry trees line a 20km stretch of road and are in full bloom from late April to early May. In addition to this superb cherry blossom tunnel in Japan, there are even some great sightseeing spots like shrines and hot springs nearby, making for the perfect Japan trip.

Table of Contents
  1. What is “The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road”?
  2. Mornings are best! Enjoy different areas along this cherry blossom tunnel in Japan
  3. Iwakiyama Shrine: Boasting a history of over 1200 years
  4. Hyakuzawa Onsen: Enjoy a soak before heading back!

What is “The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road”?

After a 40-minute bus ride from JR Hirosaki Station to Komoriyama-iriguchi bus stop, you’ll arrive at a fantastic row of sakura cherry blossom trees that extends for about 20km along the prefectural roads in the Hyakuzawa-Dake area.

Started in 1985 with the planting of about 1,000 Oyamazakura cherry trees, it has become one of Aomori's leading sightseeing spots.

▲ A monument dedicated to planting cherry trees and Mt. Iwaki near the Iwakisansogokoenmae bus stop. (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Inspired by local residents’ desires to create the longest sakura-lined road in the world, tree planting continued annually with about 6,500 planted by 1995. This sakura tunnel now seems to continue on forever and is beloved by locals and tourists alike.

▲ The artistic collaboration between the row of cherry trees and Mt. Iwaki seen only during the cherry blossom season. (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Mornings are best! Enjoy different areas along this cherry blossom tunnel in Japan

To learn more about the best locations for photography along the sakura tunnel, we talked to Mr. Shinkichi Koyama of the Iwakisan Tourist Association, who has long been an admirer of the area’s cherry blossoms.

▲ Oyamazakura standing out against the blue sky. The blossoms are a darker pink than those of Somei Yoshino cherry trees. (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Mr. Koyama noted: “The first thing you need to know is that this row of cherry trees is at an altitude of 200 - 450m at the foot of Mt. Iwaki, with a maximum height difference of about 250m.
Flowering is slower here than in the Hirosaki City area. It is difficult to predict exactly when the cherry blossoms will bloom, and there are gaps in each area. But those at low altitudes usually bloom around the end of April every year, with the higher-altitude ones blooming about 7 to 10 days later. You can enjoy the blossoms for more than 10 days.”

It’s exciting to monitor how each area is flowering while searching for the best spot at the best time!

▲ A row of cherry blossoms on the backroad of the Tsugaru Country Club, about a 5-minute walk from the tree-planting monument. (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

If you’re looking for photos with early blooming sakura, the Hyakuzawa area is a prime location. On both sides of the Tsugaru Country Club’s backroads and the straightaway near Moriyama, the bright pink Oyama cherry blossoms display a different beauty from that of the Somei Yoshino variety.

▲ A row of cherry trees near Moriyama (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

The next best spot is also in the Hyakuzawa area. The road near Iwakisan Sogo Park has a gentle curve, offering a cherry blossom view with depth. It’s usually best seen from the beginning of May, and many tourists park their cars on the roadside to set up their cameras.

▲ A row of cherry trees near Iwakisan Sogo Park (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Mr. Koyama says, “Any time of day is beautiful, but the morning my recommendation.” In the high-altitude morning sunlight, the pink blossoms and the greenery of the trees create a beautiful contrast that can only be captured at that moment.

▲ A row of cherry trees beside the park. Before sunrise, when the sky is bluish, the grass appears to have a darker shade of green. (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)
▲ The same place a few minutes after sunrise – such contrast within the same morning! (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Karekidaira, the endpoint of the sakura tunnel, is in full bloom in early May. Because of its proximity, it’s a recommended spot for closer shots of Mt. Iwaki and on a clear days, the scenery is truly dynamic.

▲ The row of cherry trees and Mt. Iwaki in the Karekidaira area (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Mr. Koyama admitted, “I actually hope to go out the day after some bad weather.”

Puddles on the road reflect the cherry blossoms like a watery mirror, and if taken from a low position, you can get a fantastic shot. So even if rainy weather seems disappointing during cherry blossom season, worry not! You can still get take your camera to Karekidaira the next morning.

▲ Karekidaira after rain (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

As the blooming period approaches, the Iwakisan Tourist Association checks the state of the blossoms every morning and sends out flowering information earlier than anywhere else. You can check that information on their official website or by phone, with certainty that you have reliable local information before going out.

▲ A view of the area near the Noichigo agricultural market. Even though it’s not part of The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road, the Gonagane River, Mt. Iwaki, and these cherry blossoms create a beautiful backdrop. (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)
  • The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road
    世界一の桜並木
    • Address Hirosaki, Aomori
    • Nearest Station Access to The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road
      ● Hyakuzawa area
      About 40 minutes by Konan bus from JR Hirosaki Station to Komoriyama-iriguchi Bus Stop
      ● Karekidaira area
      About 60 minutes by Konan Bus from JR Hirosaki Station, get off at Karekidaira Bus Stop
      * The row of cherry trees near Iwakisan Sogo Park is easily walkable.
      * Taking a bus or car is recommended for easier access to areas far from bus stops.
    • 0172-83-3000 (Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Finish your trip to The World's Longest Cherry Blossom-Lined Road by visiting a few of the area’s other tourist spots.

Hirosaki City has plenty of restaurants and hot springs, but here are a few in the Iwaki district you should definitely check out!

Iwakiyama Shrine: Boasting a history of over 1200 years

Iwakiyama Shrine, located in Hyakuzawa about 2 km from the cherry blossom trees, enshrines Mt. Iwaki and has been a powerful site for worshippers since ancient times.

Originally dedicated to a god of agricultural and marine products, the shrine is now said to bring health, education, business, and marriage benefits, and is crowded with visitors on New Year’s Day.

▲ Iwakiyama Shrine in spring. Snow-capped Mt. Iwaki stands beautifully behind the torii gate (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Mt. Iwaki has long been called “O-Iwaki-sama” and “O-Yama” by local people in terms of familiarity and respect. On August 1st, prayers for a good harvest and household security are held along with a pilgrimage to Mt. Iwaki, further illustrating the mountain’s importance as a symbol of the Tsugaru region and a source of pride for local residents.

▲ Hand washing in the spring water of Mt. Iwaki (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

One of the main deities enshrined at Iwakiyama Shrine is Tatsubihime no Kami, a goddess of water. Drinking from the spring waters of the shrine’s ritual hand washing fountain is said to remove evil from the body.

▲ Upward facing Komainu (shrine guarding “lion-dog”) and Downward facing Komainu (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

Statues called “Tamagaki Komainu” are part of a stone fence on the shrine’s grounds. The upward-facing Komainu is believed to bring monetary fortune, while the downward facing one provides good fortune in love, so many visitors take photos with both.

▲ The main shrine, designated as an important national cultural property (Photo courtesy of Iwakisan Tourist Association)

The main shrine and hall of worship, built in the middle of the Edo period, are designated as important national cultural properties. The cleverly built exterior and the vivid patterns adorning the pillars are of particular interest. In spring, Iwakiyama Shrine is a place of new beginnings and hope for progress and success.

Hyakuzawa Onsen: Enjoy a soak before heading back!

The area around Mt. Iwaki has a wealth of hot springs, so after enjoying sakura viewing and a visit to the shrine, you can stop by the baths of Dake Onsen, Hyakuzawa Onsen, or one of ten other local hot springs to relieve the fatigue of your trip.

▲ Hyakuzawa Onsen near Iwakiyama Shrine

Hyakuzawa Onsen a popular drop-in hot spring located about a 10-minute walk from Iwakiyama Shrine.

▲ The ground of the parking lot has turned an ochre shade

The spring’s most notable quality is its iron content, which oxidizes when exposed to air. The concentration is high enough to discolor the surrounding ground and baths themselves an ocher hue. Hyakuzawa Onsen’s unique iron scent is also popular among hot spring enthusiasts, and with abundant hot water, you can enjoy this spring to your heart’s content.

(* Note that white towels will be discolored by the iron.)

▲ A hot water bath in the foreground and a tepid bath behind.

Hyakuzawa Onsen’s spring is considered to be very hot with its 46°C temperature. However, lukewarm water is also available for those who don’t enjoy such long, hot baths. The waters seem to have positive effects on neuralgia and rheumatism.

While Hirosaki is known for severe fluctuations between morning and evening temperatures, which can be chilly even in spring and summer, there’s no need for concern about the cooling of Hyakuzawa Onsen’s baths.

▲ Hot water flowing from the source into the bath. Staff members say, “It used to be more in the past.”

A place for relaxation where many locals visit, you’ll have the opportunity to hear the Tsugaru dialect. After bathing, you can have a cup of coffee with milk as you finish your trip at this hot spring that will warm you inside and out.

  • Hyakuzawa Onsen
    百沢温泉
    • Address 290-0 Terasawa, Hyakuzawa, Hirosaki, Aomori
    • Phone Number 0172-83-2226
    • Hours: 10:00-22:00 (closed 4th Wednesday each month)
      Admission: Adults (high school and older), 320 yen; elementary school students, 150 yen; kindergarten students, 60 yen; 3 years old and under, free; (all tax-included)

A final note concerning cherry blossoms: Hirosaki Park, home to Hirosaki Castle, is also known for its famous Hirosaki Sakura Festival but The World's Longest Cherry-Lined Road is still the winner.

Flowering tends to be earlier in urban areas, and with the right timing, you may be able to see both. If you’re that lucky, by all means, take plenty of photos of both, visit the hot springs in the Iwaki district and Iwakiyama Shrine, and enjoy your Hirosaki trip!

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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