Spring is almost here. The first sign of the warmer season is the blooming of the plum trees, with their white or soft pink petals welcoming the new year as early as February when it's still frosty and the days are short.
But soon many colorful and fragrant blossoms will bloom, foremost of all, the Japanese cherry blossoms that bloom from late March to early April. For the active traveler, there is nothing better than experiencing the awakening of nature while hiking, cruising, or cycling. And Aichi Prefecture is the perfect place to do it.
Get on the Water for a New Perspective of Spring
Many cherry trees are planted along river banks and lake shores and are best admired from the water.
How about visiting Nagoya’s Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Garden and taking one of the swan pedal boats found on the little lake there for a ride? The botanical garden is especially worth a visit in spring as it boasts around 1000 cherry trees made up of a staggering 100 different species.
If you would rather sit back and watch the landscape pass you by, booking a relaxing river cruise in Inuyama in spring is perfect. You can view Japan’s oldest castle, the iconic Inuyama Castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the Kiso River, from a new vantage point. The castle is surrounded by cherry trees, as is the street leading to the foot of the castle hill offering an impressive view to visitors. So don’t forget to take a stroll there afterward. The best time to visit Inuyama in spring is during the Inuyama Spring Festival, which is usually held on the first weekend of April. The festival is famous for its 13 festival floats, which are pushed through the cherry tree-lined streets showing off their Karakuri Ningyo, mechanical puppets controlled via strings, an art form practiced for almost 400 years in Inuyama.
Another river cruise spot in Aichi offers its passengers sweeping views of Okazaki Castle bathed in a sea of pink. The small boats operate especially during cherry blossom season around the channels of the castle. Don’t forget to visit the park surrounding the castle, as it too contains many cherry trees. So many in fact, that Okazaki castle has been chosen as one of the top 100 spots to see cherry blossoms in Japan.
Cycling Around Cherry Blossom Spots in Nagoya
Nagoya city is dotted with great cherry blossom spots all around. These are best explored by bicycle and you never know what other wonders you might stumble across on your way.
Many random neighborhood streets have cherry trees planted on either side, but if you want to check out the top spots in Nagoya make sure to cycle first to Nagoya Castle, where 1000 cherry trees from 10 varieties are planted. The castle holds a yearly Sakura Festival from the end of March to the beginning of April with extended opening hours until 20:00 with a light-up event illuminating the pink cherry blossoms and the castle, creating a magnificent view.
Just behind the castle, you will find Meijo Park with roughly 200 cherry trees. Here you can even try the Japanese tradition of Hanami, having a picnic under the cherry trees. Just bring a blanket or characteristic blue sheet, a bento box, and something to drink, and you are good to go!
Another major spot to do this is Tsuruma Park where around 750 cherry trees are blooming. Especially beautiful scenery awaits you at the 1000-year-old burial mound covered in cherry trees. At night, the lanterns light up around the trees turning the park into a magical place. There are also food stalls, as well as different musical and cultural events.
The Yamazaki River Four Seasons Road stretches for approximately 2.5 kilometers, with around 600 Yoshino cherry blossoms. It’s the perfect place for a stroll under the cherry trees.
Hiking Up Aichi’s Holy Mountain
Even though Aichi is a prefecture with a long coastline and is generally flat, it does have some high mountains which are popular for hikers.
The most popular among them is Horaijisan in Shinshiro, named after the temple at its peak, Horaiji. 1425 uneven steps lead to the holy sanctuary at the top lined by gigantic trees that create a mystical atmosphere.
If you are already in Shinshiro for a spring hike, make sure to stop by Sakurabuchi Park, with its avenues of cherry trees that line the banks of the Toyokawa River which flows through the park. The contrast of the pink of the Sakura flowers and the emerald green of the vegetation along the river and the red bridges, make this a place with a captivating landscape.
Take a Walk through Aichi’s Best Spring Flower Spots
Enjoying the outdoors and nature doesn’t always have to be a strenuous activity. Sometimes just having a leisurely walk surrounded by flowers is enough. And Aichi really offers some of the nicest flower viewing spots in the country.
Another one of the 100 best cherry blossom spots in Japan can be found in Iwakura along the Gojo River. Both sides of the river are lined with Sakura trees and paths with frequent bridges to cross the small river, allowing visitors to see all there is to offer on this leisurely stroll.
Cherry blossom season is famously short, lasting just around 2 weeks from the end of March to the beginning of April. But there are always more spring flowers to admire such as the beautiful yellow canola flowers at Irago Canola Garden in the far south of Aichi Prefecture. Canola flowers bloom during the whole of spring and are especially beautiful in February and March.
Another magical flower not to miss at the end of spring is the wisteria flower blooming from mid-April to early May. The aforementioned Meijo Park doesn’t just boast beautiful cherry blossoms, but also a 660-meter-long wisteria corridor with nine varieties numbering 85 trees.
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