Ogawa Village’s reddish pink Tachiya cherry blossoms contrast with the snowy peaks of the Japanese Alps.
As the snow slowly melts from the streets and sprouts begin to poke their heads out from under the ground, we’re all beginning to wonder: when will the cherry blossoms come? According to a new forecast announced last Tuesday, it looks like many areas of Japan will be seeing their cherry trees bloom a full ten days earlier than last year.
See the Most Recent Cherry Blossom Forecast:
For Nagano, many of its cherry blossom spots will begin blooming about five days earlier than 2017, while peak viewing will come three to four days earlier. That hopefully means that this season will be even better for enjoying winter snow and spring blossoms together. Major ski resorts like Happo One and Tsugaike in Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen, and Shiga Kogen usually stay open until Golden Week (first week of May), and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route will open its doors this year on April 15.
This year, we’ve looked at an increasing variety of cherry blossom spots around Nagano. Using last year’s bloom data and the current predictions for 2018, we’ve included dates for peak cherry blossom viewing as well. You can usually enjoy great blossoms for two to three days before or after the peak viewing date. Take a look at our recommendations below!
Update (2018/04/02): With temperatures staying unusually high this past week and a number of locations around Nagano already seeing blossoms, we have updated our predictions for this year’s full bloom dates. Overall, we are expecting full bloom to come four days earlier than we originally thought.
Update (2018/04/04): With sunny days that feel straight out of summer, Nagano’s cherry blossoms are rushing towards full bloom even faster. Many spots are already near full bloom, and we can assume that higher altitude locations will also be affected. Overall, places are blooming 2 to 4 days earlier than our last update.
Update (2018/04/13): Omachi Park has reached full bloom as of yesterday. Some trees still are at 80 to 90%, so we expect the park’s trees to last through next week to the 18th-19th. Iiyama Castle’s blossoms have also opened and are currently nearing full bloom. The top of Mt. Hikarujo should be at its peak by the 16th, while the cherry trees at the foot of the mountain will soon be finished. We have changed Mt. Hikarujo’s access information, as the trailhead was located further away than we originally thought. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms this Spring
To make the most out of the late winter/early spring weather, visit cherry blossom spots with great views of the Alps. Omachi Park (April 14) stands above the city and has crystal clear views of the Northern Japanese Alps. On the way between Omachi and Nagano are the Nitanda and Tachiya cherry blossoms (April 12), which stand on the hills of Ogawa Village. From the right angle, the cherry trees blooming beneath the Alps is truly breath-taking. Near Azumino, you can take a short hike up Mt. Hikarujo (April 16), whose trail is covered in cherry trees. Through the branches, you’ll see the glimmering white peaks of the Northern Alps.
Clockwise from top: Omachi Park in Omachi City, Tachiya Cherry Trees in Ogawa Village, Mt. Hikarujo in Azumino City
If you’d like to see cherry blossoms on the water, there are also plenty of places to visit that satisfy your needs. On the shore of Lake Suwa is Takashima Castle (April 10), whose cherry blossoms hang over its walls, slowly scattering their petals in the moat below. In Suzaka City just outside of Nagano is Garyu Park (April 10) covered in 800 cherry trees, a quarter of which are planted along the large pond in the center of the park and are illuminated beautifully during the evening. Another spot in Omachi is the Lake Nakatsuna cherry trees (April 26); a late bloomer that impresses visitors with its intimate scale and tranquility.
Clockwise from top: Garyu Koen in Suzaka City, Lake Nakatsuna in Omachi City, Takashima Castle in Suwa City
In southern Nagano’s Hirugami Onsen, you can enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms at night together with starry skies. The Komatsunagi cherry tree (April 20) is an 850-year-old giant beside terraced rice fields. When they are flooded in mid-April, the tree’s blossoms reflect brilliantly in the water below.
Komatsunagi Cherry Tree in Achi Village
For a touch of culture and history with your cherry blossoms, visit Matsumoto Castle (April 6), Komoro Kaikoen (April 9), Ueda Castle Ruins (April 4), or Takato Castle Ruins (April 8).
See More about Nagano’s Cherry Blossoms and Other Flowers:
Getting Around Nagano’s Cherry Blossom Spots
Omachi Park (Omachi City): By train/bus, a 25-minute walk from JR Oito line Shinano Omachi Station, or a 5-minute taxi. By car: a 40-minute drive from the Azumino IC exit. See in Google Maps.
Nitanda and Tachiya cherry blossoms (Ogawa Village): By train/bus, A 50-minute bus ride on the Shinmachi Takafu line bus (get off at Takafu bus stop), then a 20-minute walk to trees or 15 minutes to viewpoint. By car, a 45-minute drive from the Nagano IC. See in Google Maps.
Mt. Hikarujo (Azumino City): By train/bus, a 35-minute walk or 10-minute taxi from JR Tazawa Station. By car, a 7-minute drive from the Azumino IC exit. See in Google Maps.
Takashima Castle (Suwa City): By train/bus: a 10-minute walk from Kamisuwa Station. By car, an 8-minute drive from the Suwa IC exit. See in Google Maps.
Garyu Park (Suzaka City): By train/bus, a 20-minute walk from Suzaka Station. By car, a 10-minute drive from the Suzaka Higashi Nagano IC. See in Google Maps.
Lake Nakatsuna (Omachi City): By train/bus, a 3-minute walk from Yanaba Station. By car, a 50-minute drive from the Nagano IC exit. See in Google Maps.
Komatsunagi Cherry Tree (Achi Village): By train/bus, a 30-minute ride on the Hirugami line bus from Iida Station followed by a 22-minute taxi. By car, 5 minutes from the Sonohara IC. See in Google Maps.
Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto City): By train/bus, a 15-minute walk from Matsumoto Station. See in Google Maps.
Komoro Kaikoen (Komoro City): By train/bus, a 3-minute walk from Komoro Station. See in Google Maps.
Ueda Castle Ruins (Ueda City): By train/bus, a 15-minute walk from Ueda Station. See in Google Maps.
Takato Castle Ruins (Ina City): By train/bus, a 20-minute ride on the Takato shuttle bus from Inashi Station. See in Google Maps.