Nagano’s Top Cherry Blossom Spots

March 4th, 2016 by
Category: Events, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

(This was originally posted in 2016, but dates and timetables have been updated for the 2017 season.)

Cherry blossoms and snow make a beautiful pair.

Spring is on its way and that means it’s time to break out those blue tarps, make some rice balls and drink plenty of local beer and sake. It’s cherry blossom viewing time! There are a lot of beautiful spots to enjoy them here in Nagano prefecture, where the mountains add a beautiful touch of white to the spring scenery. Who knew you could see sakura and snow at the same time?

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Nagano city in full bloom!

April 20th, 2012 by
Category: Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

somei yoshino in Matsushiro castle, Nagano city


Flowers, Flowers!
The height of spring has finally come here in Nagano city, Nagano, Japan!

The cherries are blossoming late this year by a week or two throughout Japan. It was just last week when I saw so many tourists on sightseeing tour buses (featuring sakura blossom viewing) greatly disappointed to find the cherry blossoms still in bud.

In and around the city of Nagano, which is well-known as the host city of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998, almost every kind of spring blossoms and flowers are in all glory. Sakura, or cherry blossoms, apricot, magnolia, dandelion, shepherd’s purse flower all come into bloom!
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Chikuma City’s Apricot Village Trees in Full Bloom

April 18th, 2011 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

In the world of apricot blossoms, 2 days makes a huge difference. Last Thursday, I went  Apricot Village in Chikuma City’s Mori district to see if the namesake apricot trees were in bloom or not. They were only at 20-30% at that time. Then I went again on Saturday, and was happy to see that they were in full bloom! Weekend visitors were no doubt thrilled to be able to enjoy the apricot blossoms and their subtle pink beauty. Mori’s laid back farming village setting makes for such a quaint background to the apricot trees. I highly suggest a trip to see them.

Mori's apricot trees in full bloom

Mori's apricot trees in full bloom

Other Nagano flower info (as of Monday 18-Apr)

Togura Kamiyamada Onsen’s Chuo Park cherry blossoms: Full bloom
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen’s Wakamiya apricot blossoms along the Chikuma River: Full bloom

According to our weekend guests:
Ueda Castle cherry blossoms: Full Bloom

According to fellow Inbound Ambassador Andy, Matsumoto Castle cherry blossoms: Full Bloom (beautifully lit up at night)

According to Ina City Tourism Dept.:
Takato Castle cherry blossoms: Full Bloom


By Train:  From Yashiro Station on the Shinano Railway line there is regular bus service to the Mori area, or a 5 minute taxi ride, or 25 min. walk.

By car:  From Route 18 in Chikuma City’s central business area, take Route 403 / County 392 approx. 2km.

Close-up of the apricot blossoms

Close-up of the apricot blossoms

Enjoying Singular Cherry Trees in Shinshu Takayama Village

April 21st, 2010 by
Category: Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

This time of year, many of our guests stay here at our inn as they drive around Nagano enjoying the flowering trees.  First the apricot blossoms in nearby Mori’s “Apricot Village”, and lately, the cherry blossoms.  Most come to see the cherry trees at Ueda Castle, or our local spots such as the Tengu Park above Togura Station, or even Chuo Park behind our inn here in Togura Kamiyamada Onsen.  However, lately, a few guest mentioned they are on crusades to see “Ippon sakura”, or singular cherry trees. 

When I did the translating work for Nagano Prefecture’s official foreign language tourism site, there was a passage on these singular cherry trees in southern Nagano.
To be honest, while writing the description in English, I was wondering what the attraction would be in seeing just one, individual tree blooming.

One of our guests, Komoriya-san, gave me a list of “Ippon sakura” in northern and eastern Nagano.  I had a bit of extra time on Sunday, so I took our kids to check out one of them in Matsushiro, the weeping willow type sakura tree at Myotoku-ji temple.  Seeing the hundreds-of-years old tree made me understand the majesty of the blossoms on such an ancient tree.

Myotoku-ji's ancient cherry tree (Matsushiro)

Myotoku-ji's ancient cherry tree (Matsushiro)

Komoriyama-san explained the 3 main reasons for “Ippon Sakura”.  One is that many are located at a temple.  More specifically, by the graveyard of a temple.  People plant them so their ancestors can enjoy the annual cherry blossom show.  Another is that the trees are located in the middle of a rice field area.  The blossoms come on around the same time as the fields need to be prepared for planting.  So farmers judge the rice planting timing around when the tree’s flowers bloom.  Finally (and this one is a bit harder to believe), some famous samurai plant trees when they cross over a mountain pass.  Then whenever they go over the pass again, they can tie their horses up to the tree.  Hmmm.

Anyways, here is Komoriyama-san’s list of suggested “Ippon Sakura” in Northern and Eastern Nagano:

Nagano City / Suzaka
(trees bloom 6-7 days later than Togura Kamiyamada.  2010’s peak should be 18-April)
*Myotoku-ji’s shidare (Matsushiro, Pref. Rt. 35)
*Enmei-ji’s shidare (Pref. Rt. 34 before Hoshina Elem. School)
*Endai-ji’s shidare (Omuro)
*Benten-sama’s shidare (Suzaka, below Yonago Fudo Shrine)

Takayama Village (10 days later than Togura Kamiyamada)
*Mizunaka’s shidare (Pref. Rt. 54 in town)
*Kurobe’s edohigan (near the Issa Hall in town)
*Tsuboi’s shidare (Pref. Rt. 54 on the way to Nakano)

Ueda/Tateshina/Saku (6-7 days later than Togura Kamiyamada)
*Daien-ji’s shidare (Ueda’s Shioda Plain, Pref. Rt. 65)
*Nagahisaho’s shidare (Nagawa Town, Matsuo Shrine)
*Muryou-ji’s shidare (Saku City, Motoima Post Town, Rt. 142)
*Fukuo-ji’s shidare (Saku City, south of above)
*Gohongi’s sakiwake (Saku City, Hot Park Asashina Rest Area, Rt. 142)

Another view of the Myotoku-ji tree

Another view of the Myotoku-ji tree

Shidare: Prunus pendula f. pendula (weeping willow type)
Edo Higan: Prunus pendula (similar to above but an older variety?)
Sakiwake: ??? (pinkish and white blossoms on the same tree?)

Hiking Season Has Started

April 29th, 2009 by
Category: Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

April and May sees the start of the hiking season in many areas in Nagano.
The Alpine Route – April 17th; Kamikochi – April 27th; Mt. Norikura – May 15th; Mt. Ontake – April 25th(see blog)

I climbed Mt. Hikarijoyama in Azumino on April 18th. I enjoyed a great view of the cherry blossom canopy and the Alps.
Mt. Hikarijoyama is 912m high and can be climbed by people of all ages and abilities starting in March.
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Matsumoto and Asama Onsen Attractions

April 10th, 2009 by
Category: Cuisine, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing

I had to go into Matsumoto for a meeting at Asama Onsen. It was a lunch meeting, and I was treated to Matsumoto’s specialty, “sanzoku-yaki” (see below). We also stopped by the bicycle specialty shop there (also see below). After the meeting, I scooted over to Matsumoto Castle. A guest the previous day had said the castle’s cherry blossoms were starting to bloom. Plus the sky was clear, and the Alps still had snow, so I figured it would be a beautiful sight.
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Illuminated Cherry Blossoms in Matsumoto

April 8th, 2009 by
Category: Events, Information, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing
Hikari no Kairou, Illuminated cherry blossom corridor, Matsumoto

Illuminated cherry blossom corridor around Matsumoto Castle

The cherry blossoms in Matsumoto have started blooming. Hooray!

Here is the schedule of cherry blossom-related events:

Illuminated cherry blossom corridor, Matsumoto Castle

Hikari no Kairou, Illuminated cherry blossom corridor, Matsumoto

◆ Hikari no Kairou
“Hikari no Kairou” means “Illuminated cherry blossom corridor”. We walked under the lit up cherry blossoms last spring together, and it was very romantic and beautiful. This spring, the project team lit up two areas around Matsumoto castle and displayed 26 hand-made paper shade lamps on Daimyocho-street.

If you have a chance to walk around Matsumoto castle and its surroundings, please take the time to feel a wonderful Japanese spring moment!

Event Details:
Date and Time:Tuesday, April 7th to Thursday, April 16th 
            6pm to 10pm
1) Illuminated cherry blossoms at Matsumoto castle
  Cherry blossoms on the north and east sides will be lit up.
2) Illuminated cherry blossoms along the Metoba river
  Cherry blossoms along the Metoba river between Metoba and Chitose bridges will be lit up.
3) Andon (hand-made paper shade lamp) gallery
  26 beautiful lamps will be displayed on Daimyocho-street between Matsumoto castle and Chitose bridge.

Illuminated Cherry Blossoms and Matsumoto Castle

Illuminated Cherry Blossoms and Matsumoto Castle

◆ Cherry Blossoms by Moonlight at Matsumoto Castle

Date and Time: Thursday, April 9th to Thursday, April 16th
5:30pm to 8:30pm

Event details are in our previous blog entry.

This is a blog for foreigners in Japan from all over the world, so here is some extra advice for our visitors.
1. Bring a shirt/jacket/sweatshirt since it is still cold at night in Matsumoto.
2. Taking nice pictures in the dark is hard. If you have a tripod, it will help you immensely!

*All beautiful pictures on this page are provided by Matsumoto Castle illuminated cherry blossom corridor project committee. Thank you very much.