Nagano’s Top Cherry Blossom Spots

Find the best places to see cherry blossoms in spring, from ancient castle ruins to idyllic parks at the base of the Japanese Alps.

Cherry blossoms are an important symbol of spring in Japan. During the blossoming seasons, you’ll be sure to find cherry tree-covered parks and colorful sakura decorations on the shelves of stores anywhere you go. Even snacks and drinks turn pink for the season with limited-time cherry blossom flavors.

Nagano is no different, and here, cherry blossoms bloom throughout April at the base of snow-covered mountains—who knew you could see sakura and snow at the same time?

See some of Nagano’s best cherry blossom spots below!

1. Takato Castle Park, Ina City

Takato’s cherry blossom trees are considered some of the most beautiful in Japan.

Takato Castle Park is arguably the most famous place to see cherry trees in all of Nagano prefecture (and part of Japan’s top 100). Its unique Takato-kohigan variety of tree is considered one of the most beautiful in Japan because of its dense branches and light pink blossoms. During full bloom the flowers blot out the sky. You simply have to see it to believe it.

While you’re here, try Takato’s very own style of soba served with grilled miso.

Details

Best Blossoms: Mid-April

Location: Ina city, Southern Nagano

Access: Take a bus from Ina station to the Takato station stop. See below for bus schedule (520 yen one way).

2. Komoro Kaikoen, Komoro city

Kaikoen's San-no-mon gate and stone walls are all that remain of Komoro castle.

Kaikoen is another one of Japan’s top 100 sakura spots. Here lay the ruins of Komoro castle, originally built in the late 1400s. Much has been destroyed, but the gate and stone walls remain intact and are registered nationally as important cultural properties. You may feel as if you’ve stepped into a maze as you wander through the park, most likely an intentional design to confuse invaders.

Afterwards, take a dip in a 1000-meter high onsen.

Details

Best Blossoms: Late April

Location: Komoro city, Eastern Nagano

Access: The park is directly next to Komoro station. From Nagano station, take the Shinano Railway line and get off at Komoro station (approx. 60 min). From Tokyo, take the Asama or Hakutaka Shinkansen to Karuizawa station (approx. 60 min), then change to the Shinano Railway line for Nagano. Get off at Komoro Station (approx. 25 min).

3. Garyu Koen, Suzaka city

Garyu's cherry trees are especially beautiful at night.

This park has also been selected as part of Japan’s top 100, and it’s easy to see why. There are 14 different types of cherry trees here from Edo Kohigan to Shidare-zakura (weeping cherry), and they reflect beautifully in the pond below. The cherry blossoms are lit up at night while colorful food stalls prepare festival favorites like takoyaki, fried chicken and yakisoba.

Before heading to the park for a night stroll, visit Suzaka’s street of storehouses. They are remnants of Suzaka’s history as a prosperous silk town, and you can see traditional town architecture and earthern-walled buildings. If you like sake, Suzaka’s Endo Brewery is here as well. You can also stop by Guest house Kura for a coffee or snack.

Details

Best Blossoms: Mid-April

Location: Suzaka city, Northern Nagano

Access: From Nagano station, take the Nagano Dentetsu line to Suzaka station. From there, it’s a 20-minute walk, 5-minute taxi or 10-minute bus ride. If taking the bus, get off at Garyukoen or Garyukoen Iriguchi stop (200 yen).

4. Ueda Castle Ruins, Ueda city

Ueda Castle's history was widely celebrated in NHK's 2016 drama, "Sanada Maru."

Ueda castle has received a lot of attention in recent years as the home of the Sanada clan, whose member Sanada Yukimura was the star of 2016’s NHK period drama, Sanada Maru. As you walk through Ueda Castle’s ruins, you can enjoy beautiful cherry trees that have been here since the beginning of the Showa period about 100 years ago.

There is a well-preserved historical street nearby with artisan bakeries, restaurants and shops. Visitors may be interested in spending the night in Bessho Onsen, a short train ride from Ueda city.

Details

Best Blossoms: Early to Mid-April

Location: Ueda city, Eastern Nagano

Access: Take the Ueda Machinaka bus from Ueda Station to Koen Kita. The bus runs every half hour from 9:00 to 17:00 (100 yen one-way).

5. Matsumoto Castle, Matsumoto city

National treasure Matsumoto Castle is another popular viewing spot.

While Matsumoto Castle’s cherry blossoms haven’t been awarded a coveted spot in Japan’s top 100 category, it is an important symbol of Nagano and has amazing views of the Northern Alps. Let’s face it, if you’re visiting Nagano for the first time, you’re probably going to go to Matsumoto castle, so why not kill three birds with one stone?

Don’t forget to visit Nakamachi-dori and Nawate-dori streets while you’re in the area.

Details

Best Blossoms: Mid-April

Location: Matsumoto city, Central Nagano

Access: A 15-minute walk from Matsumoto station.

6.Kozenji Temple, Komagane city

Kozenji Temple’s weeping cherry blossoms are illuminated at night, with splendid views of the Southern Alps by day.

This large temple in Komagane city is renowned throughout Southern Nagano for its many beautiful structures and its peaceful, forested landscape. The road towards the temple is lined with large Japanese cedar trees, and over 70 weeping cherry trees dot the premises.

Nearby is popular Senjojiki Cirque, accessible by the Komagatake Ropeway. It is open year-round and offers amazing views of the Central and Southern Japanese alps from 2,612 meters above sea level. Plentiful snow still remains up at these altitudes during spring, and snow melt feeds the cirque’s Nakagosho waterfall for a spectacular sight.

Details

Best Blossoms: Mid- to Late April

Location: Komagane city, Southern Nagano

Access: From Nagano station, take the Wide View Shinano train to Shiojiri station, then change to the JR Chuo line and get off at Tatsuno station. Finally, change to the Iida line and get off at Komagane station (approx. 135 min).
Take the Komagatake Ropeway Bus and get off at Kiriishi Koen Shita stop (between Nyotai Iriguchi and Suganodai Bus Center stops), then walk 5 minutes. Buses run to the temple once every hour from 8:00 to 15:00, and once every hour back from 9:12 to 16:12. More buses are added after April 18th.

You may wish to use this website to help plan your train ride!

7. Koboyama Koen, Matsumoto City

Thousands of cherry trees surround the crest of Koboyama.

Removed from Matsumoto’s city center, this cherry blossom spot lies under the radar for most international travelers, but it offers spectacular views for those who take a chance to visit.

Overlooking Matsumoto City and the Japanese Alps, the hilltop of Koboyama is surrounded by a wall of 4,000 cherry trees. Many walking trails meander through the cherry woods, and during peak bloom there are nightly light-ups here as well.

Details

Best Blossoms: Mid-April to Late April

Location: Matsumoto city, Central Nagano

Access: From Matsumoto Bus Terminal, take the Namiyanagi line bus to Koboyama Iriguchi. From Matsumoto station, take the JR Chuo line to Minami Matsumoto station, then walk for 30 minutes.

8. Obuse Riverside Park, Obuse Town

Cherry trees extend for miles along Obuse's riverside embankment.

Outside of Obuse Town along the Chikuma River is the Obuse Riverside Park. Over 600 yaezakura trees are planted along its 4km length, together with plum trees and nanohana blossoms. During late April to early May, they bloom in a vivid chorus of pinks and yellows.

You can walk or bike along the 4-kilometer path that runs alongside the many cherry trees. Stop at the Oasis Obuse center for a bite to eat or even some bouldering.

Obuse is also home to the Hokusai Museum and Gansho-in Temple.

Details

Best Blossoms: Late April to early May

Location: Obuse Town, Northern Nagano

Access: From Nagano Station, take the Nagano Dentetsu train to Obuse Station. From there, a 20-minute walk.

9. Oide Park, Hakuba Valley

Amazing views of snowy mountains and cherry blossoms at Oide Park

You’ll be hard-pressed to find better views of the Japanese Alps than those in the Hakuba Valley. In spring, the contrast of snow-capped mountains and the bright blue sky is especially beautiful.

Oide Park is a perfect place to see the mountains and enjoy cherry blossoms in spring. The scenery of glimmering peaks of the Northern Alps and blue waters of the Himekawa River framed by light pink weeping cherry trees is simply spectacular. A small wooden bridge spanning the river and several rustic buildings adds a finishing touch to this idyllic countryside scene.

For more fun in the area, you can participate in an outdoor tour through Evergreen Outdoor Center. During April, they offer mountain biking, rafting, climbing, and more!

Details

Best Blooms: Late April

Location: Hakuba Valley

Access: From Nagano Station, take the Hakuba line bus to Hakuba Station. From there, a 15-minute walk.
From Matsumoto Station, take the Oito line train to Hakuba Staiton. From there, a 15-minute walk.

Update:2020/03/13

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