Hi Blair: I just came back from a Yokoso tour of the cherry blossom sites in Nagano you mention. On the bus ride, I saw in the distance what looked to be cherry blossom trees lining a cable car lift to the top of a mountain. It was in the Azumino region outside of Matsumoto. Do you know where this place is??? I have never heard of a cable car lift in Japan lined with cherry blossom trees. The sakura was peaking right around now.
Hi Dean, I’ve been searching around for a cable car or ropeway near Azumino but I have no leads. None of my coworkers seem to know about it either. Could it have been in Omachi or Hakuba perhaps? I’ll leave this question open in case anyone else knows. Sorry I can’t be of more help! Blair
Hello. This is Haruko, one of the official bloggers here. This is just my guess, but it seems to be the famous HIkarujoyama in Azumino city. It is located between Daio Wasabi Farm in Hotaka and Matsumoto. More than 1500 cherry trees are planted along the mountain trail straight to the top, in the form of a vertical band. Usually, those cherry blossoms bloom and then fade gradually from the foot to the top, but just on lucky conditions, you can see them blooming all at the same time. I once saw the beautiful band of cherry blossoms for the first time while I was guiding my guests several years ago; I could not believe my own eyes. Last Saturday, I had another chance to see them, but they had just started to bloom at the bottom, so I did not mention anything about them. Dean, you said you saw them a couple of days ago, so I guess it is quite probable you saw them just on a right day!!
Haruko, that sounds like the place. You could see the mountain from the toll expressway. Due to the elevation changes, you would obviously have to time the trip right to see almost peak bloom from the bottom of the trail to the top. The top looked like it was 50% there. This year, sakura in Nagano area peaked around mid-April. The Yokoso tour took us to Takato Joen Park which I never heard of before, but it was certainly one of the most spectacular sakura spots I have seen in Japan. Plus the blossoms were a darker pink which the park is known for. Ueda Castle Park was also impressive, as was Matsushiro Castle. I hope to visit Hikarujoyama some day. I might add Nagano in mid-April is a terrific area to see sakura because the plum blossoms are usually blooming at the same time, due to the cooler climate. I particularly like the deep magenta red plum blossom trees. Also the peach blossoms are blooming at the same time, so you have a wonderful variety of colors, similar to Hanamiyama Park in Fukushima. Rental car trip would be good because you could just drive around looking for sakura spots to stop off at.