A Sign of Spring - Cherry Blossoms
"Oh no! I can't go to see cherry blossoms in March or April..."
Cherry blossoms are Japan's national flower and are loved within the country. They appear in ancient poems and literature and feature in many official crests and logos. On mainland Japan, cherry blossoms tend to bloom in late March or early April. Their popularity of late has meant that the blossom season has become somewhat overcrowded in the past few years!
Well, have no fear—Hokkaido to the rescue! Here in Hokkaido, much colder than the rest of Japan, the blossoms open in early-to-mid May, long after the season has finished on mainland Japan. So if you'd like to enjoy cherry blossoms free from the crowds, Hokkaido is the place to be!
Mt. Tokachi, surrounded by cherry blossoms.
There is something else about Hokkaido's cherry blossoms that makes them unique. On mainland Japan, the most common cherry tree is a variety called Somei Yoshino. Here in Hokkaido, our favourite blossom comes from the Ezo-Yamazakura, or “Ezo mountain cherry” (“Ezo” is the old Japanese name for Hokkaido). While Somei Yoshino is a hybrid created by humans, Ezo-Yamazakura is a wild variety. Looking at them gives you an idea of what Japan's blossoms may have looked like long ago!
Of course, here in Biei we also have our fair share of blossom-viewing spots!
Why not skip the crowds and incorporate Biei's cherry blossoms into your holiday?
Ikoigamori Park is where Biei holds its annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Close to the centre of town and easily accessed on foot or by car, this is a great spot to enjoy Biei's cherry blossoms!
Wow! It's a cherry blossom paradise!
Dozens of Ezo-Yamazakura cherry trees are planted in the park. The petals flutter all around you and create a magical pink-and-white forest!
You can climb up an observation deck at the centre of the park to enjoy a sweeping view of the cherry trees in bloom, which makes for quite an astonishing sight!
The observation deck, surrounded by blossoms.
In years where the cherry blossom festival takes place, the park is also illuminated at night. You can enjoy the Japanese tradition of "Yozakura"-- a stroll under cherry blossoms illuminated in the dark!
The spotlights and the dark sky completely change the way that cherry blossoms look.
Lit-up cherry blossoms and Biei's nighttime scenery!
Seidai Dam is on the outskirts of Biei and is one of the town's many dams. The dam's banks are lined with many cherry trees, their branches drooping majestically over the water.
This is yet another great place to see cherry blossoms in Biei, and many Biei residents would argue that it is perhaps the best place!
The sight of the petals fluttering into the canals and the Tokachidake Mountain Range in the background really make this spectacle striking.
The contrast of bright pink with fresh green makes this a popular spot with photographers, too!
The sight of cherry blossoms next to running water is so poetic. A match made in heaven...
The Biei River flows all the way from the Tokachi Mountain Range through Biei town. Its natural blue colour has earned it the nickname "the Blue River" among locals!
The "Blue River" flowing under the JR Furano Line in Biei.
A pleasant walking route follows the river as it flows through the main urban area. As you approach Maruyama Park, you'll find several Ezo mountain cherries lining the path!
It seems almost as if the blossoms will lead me all the way to the mountains!
There are also many benches and spots to rest along the walking path. Why not grab something to go from the many restaurants around Biei Station and enjoy the Japanese tradition of picnicking under the blossoms?
Ahh... this colour really is pretty.
4Miyama Pass Sakura Park (Kamifurano)
"What? This is in Kamifurano?"
So, why would we introduce a flower spot in Kamifurano?
Well, we talked about this a little before, but as of 28th January 2022, Biei and Kamifurano have come together in the newly-recognised Tokachidake Geopark!
So today, as a special treat, we would like to introduce a blossom-viewing spot in Kamifurano, with the same history and beautiful scenery as Biei!♪
Cherry blossoms and the Tokachi Mountain Range... it's like a fairytale!
Miyama Pass Sakura Park is a place where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of Kamifurano's hills. If you're hoping to photograph the combination of cherry blossoms and mountains, this is definitely the place for you!
Furthermore, the park faces east, which means you can see the sunrise beautifully from here. If you wake up a little early, you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the morning sun and cherry blossoms at the same time!
Mt. Asahidake and cherry blossoms, bathed in the morning sunlight... how beautiful ♡
Summer brings a carpet of blooms to Biei's flower parks, but we must never forget the understated beauty of the first flowers of the year, cheerfully reminding us that the winter has come to an end...