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Sakura Special: 5 Must-see types of cherry blossom trees in Japan

Sakura Special: 5 Must-see types of cherry blossom trees in Japan

Hi! My name is Asuka, and I’m a third-year student from Rikkyo University. 

 

When you think of cherry blossoms or sakura (桜), what colour do you usually think of? How many different colours of cherry blossoms do you think there are in the world? Did you know that green cherry trees exist? 

 

There are more than 100 different kinds of cherry trees in Japan alone, including some with colours other than pink. It is difficult to introduce all of them in one article, but today I’ve picked out five that I’d like to recommend to you!

 

1. Somei Yoshino (ソメイヨシノ)

(Image credit: photoAC)

First on this list is probably the most famous cherry blossom in Japan, Somei Yoshino or Yoshino Cherry (ソメイヨシノ). There are a few million of these in Japan, characterised by their light pink petals. Named after the place where the original tree was found, Somei Village, and later called the Yoshino tree, it blooms from around the end of March to the beginning of April. While there are many famous spots in Japan, why not start by visiting one of the most famous? Hirosaki Park (弘前公園 hirosaki-kouen) in Aomori is where you can see one of the oldest Yoshino Cherry trees in Japan, which has lived for more than 140 years.

 

To get there, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (東北新幹線) from Tokyo Station (東京駅 Tōkyō-eki) to Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅 Shin-Aomori-eki). From there, take the Ou Line from Shin-Aomori Station to Hirosaki Station (弘前駅 Hirosaki-eki) for about 45 minutes. 

 

Hirosaki Castle Park (弘前公園)
Address: Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 1036-8356
Nearest station: Hirosaki Station (弘前駅)
Access: From Hirosaki Station you can take the bus bound for Ajigasawa Ekimae for 12 minutes. Finally, get off at Kamenokomon-mae (亀の甲門前) bus stop, and take a 6-minute walk to Hirosaki Castle Park (弘前城園 Hirosaki-jōkoen).
Opening hours: Open 24 Hours (Park), 7am–9pm (Honmaru Castle Complex)
TEL: +81-172-33-8733

 

2. Gyoiko (御衣黄)

(Image credit: photoAC)

 

The next sakura on my list is the Gyoiko (御衣黄), a cherry blossom that has light green flowers in the Spring. The name Gyoiko originates from the colour of the garment that only those in the upper class were allowed to wear, meaning "yellow garment worn by high-class people." When it blooms, a beautiful red line would appear. The original Gyoiko trees were cultivated at Ninnaji Temple (仁和寺) in Kyoto (京都 Kyōto), and many of them can still be found there today. Even after the Somei Yoshino, the most common type of cherry blossom tree, shed their flowers, Gyoiko will continue to bloom from around mid-April till the end of April. Why not consider a visit to Ninnaji temple to experience the same scenery as people in the past?

 

To get there from Kyoto Station (京都駅 Kyōto-eki), take the Takao Keihoku Line and get off at Omuro Ninnaji Station(御室仁和寺駅 Omuro ninnaji-eki). The whole journey would take about 40 minutes.

 

Omuro Ninnaji Temple (御室仁和寺)
Address: 33 Omuroouchi, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto 616-8092
Nearest station: Omuro Ninnaji Station (御室仁和寺駅)
Access: Ninnaji Temple is a 6-minute walk from Omuro Ninnaji station
Opening hours: 9am–4:30pm
TEL: +81-75-461-1155

 

3. Kawazuzakura (河津桜)

(Image credit: PhotoAC)

 

Do you think you can see cherry blossoms during the Winter in Japan? The answer is, “Yes”you can! Kawazuzakura (河津桜) blooms way earlier than any other tree, from early February to early March. Even after they bloom, the flowers can last for up to a month, allowing ample time for people to enjoy them. The main difference between the Kawazuzakura variant and regular Somei sakura is their brighter pink colour of the petals. Also named after the location where it was found, there is a festival called the Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival held every February to celebrate these beautiful trees in Kawazu Town in the Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島 Izu Hantō), Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県 Shizuoka-ken).

 

To get there, take the Limited Express Train Odoriko from Tokyo station to Kawazu Station (河津駅 Kawazu-eki) for 2hr 30min.

 

Kawazuzakura (河津桜)
Address: 79-4 Hama, Kawazu, Kamo District, Shizuoka 413-0513
Nearest station: Kawazu station (河津駅)
Access:  From the north exit at Kawazu Station (河津駅 kawazu-eki) it will only take a minute to see the Kawazuzakura. 
Opening hours: Open 24 hours

 

4. Shidarezakura Weeping Cherry Blossom (枝垂れ桜)

(Image credit: PhotoAC)

 

The weeping branch of the Shidarezakura or Weeping Cherry Blossom (枝垂れ桜) is the biggest trait that differentiates it from other cherry trees. Not many of them exist in the wild, and many that do are taken care of by people. At the peak of their bloom, their petals change colour from pink to white. From a distance, it can look amazing, as if it were a curtain of pink. They tend to live longer than normal trees too, as some of them can actually live up to 400 years! Among these, the Miharu Takizakura (三春滝桜) in Fukushima Prefecture (福島県) might have been around for over 1000 years!

 

If you’d like to visit that tree, take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Koriyama Station (郡山駅 Kōriyama-eki). Once you reach your destination, change trains to Ban-Etsuto Line bound for Ononiimachi, and get off at Miharu Station. 

 

Miharu Takizakura (三春滝桜)
Address: Sakurakubo-296 Taki, Miharu, Tamura District, Fukushima 963-7714
Nearest station: Miharu Station (三春駅)
Access: You can take a taxi from the station for about 20 minutes to the Miharu Takizakura or you can take a bus that is only in operation during the Cherry Blossom season.
Opening hours: Open 24 hours

 

5. Yaezakura (八重桜)

(Image credit: PhotoAC)

 

Last on our list is the yaezakura (八重桜 double cherry blossom), a flower unique due to its multiple petals. A cherry blossom is only considered to be a double cherry blossom if it has more than 6 petals per flower, with numbers ranging from 10 to 300 petals. The most famous subtypes of yaezakura are the Kikuzakura (菊桜 chrysanthemum cherry blossom) and the Ukon tree (鬱金) found at Kenrokuen (兼六園), which has light green flowers. It blooms two weeks later than the somei yoshino usually do, from early April to early May. Even if you travel later in the month, you can still find them. 

 

Kenrokuen in Kawazawa City (金沢市 Kanazawa-shi), Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県 Ishikawa-ken) is a recommended place not only to view Ukon trees and Kikuzakura trees, but for various other enchanting flowers. Just walking around the park should be enough to bring you satisfaction! To get there, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line (陸新幹線) from Tokyo Station to Kanazawa Station (金沢駅 Kanazawa-eki). 

 

Kenrokuen (兼六園)
Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936
Nearest station: Kanazawa Station (金沢駅)
Access: From the station take the 93 Kanazawa University Line and get off at Kenrokuen Shita Bus Stop. It will take 6 minutes to walk from there. 
Opening hours: 7am–6pm
TEL:  +81-76-234-3800

 

If you are going to Japan during spring, viewing cherry blossom trees is a must! And luckily, almost all of the locations I’ve introduced are nearby a JR train station that can be reached using the Nationwide Japan Rail Pass! Having one or one of the relevant regional rail passes will make your journey more comfortable and enable you to visit more places. Even without a pre-prepared travel plan, you’ll have plenty of chances to see stunning trees, so why not go out and find some?

JapanRailClub

April's theme: Spring Beginnings. (Image credit: JAPAN RAIL CLUB)

Why not enjoy an "ohanami" picnic under the sakura trees with spring-themed snacks by JAPAN RAIL CLUB? JAPAN RAIL CLUB offers monthly curated Japanese snack box and April 2024's Omiyage Snack Box titled "Spring Beginnings" is full of sakura and plum snacks! Get yours by 30 April 2024 and enter this exclusive promo code "SPRING14" to enjoy USD33.25/SGD 44 off when you subscribe to the 6-month Snack Subscription Plan.

Writer's profile: Hi! I am Asuka from Rikkyo University, and I’m currently an internship student at JR East Singapore (Feb-Mar 2024). At the intercultural communication department, I major in Translation and interpretation. I love making scrapbooks and editing photos. 


Header image credit: JR Times

 

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