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The Early Blooming Sakura of Kawazu

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The Early Blooming Sakura of Kawazu

 

 
 
Did you know that you can see sakura bloom in Japan as early as February? The 8,000 sakura trees in Kawazu, a town in Shizuoka Prefecture are some of the earliest blooming in Japan. Depending on your means of transportation, Kawazu is about 2~2.5 hours from Tokyo Station. It's a great destination for an overnight trip if you plan on being in Tokyo for several days.
 
Sakura blossom

Unlike the sakura of Tokyo and Kyoto which typically bloom around late March, the sakura trees of Kawazu bloom in early February, and the blossoms last for about a month.
 
River view with sakura
 
Tunnel of sakura

Cherry trees line the Kawazu River for about 2.5 miles (4km), their flower-covered branches making an arch of deep pink over the sidewalk.
 
pink and yellow

Kawazu holds an annual festival to celebrate these gorgeous blossoms. The dates are chosen to coincide with the blooming season. This year the Kawazu Sakura Festival is scheduled to take place from February 10th to March 10th. Even though the weather is still pretty cold, the beautiful sakura never fail to draw plenty of visitors. 
 
yatai

A Japanese festival wouldn't be complete without yatai selling delicious snacks! There'll be vendors during the festival period, so you'll be all set if you work up an appetite walking up and down the river. Be sure to check out delicious sakura flavored treats like the ones below. 
 
河津桜まつり_桜たいやき

Sakura taiyaki.

河津桜まつり_桜の花ソフト

Sakura softserve ice cream.

河津桜まつり_桜餅

Sakura mochi with a salt preserved sakura flower.

河津桜まつり_焼き桜餅

Fried sakura mochi.

河津桜まつり_いちご大福

Strawberry Daifuku topped with a salt preserved sakura blossom.

河津桜まつり_思わず記念撮影

Enjoy one of each!

 

Kawazu's Must-See Sakura Spots


1. The Hosen Bashi Bridge and Surrounding Area
riverbank sakura

You can enjoy the bright yellow flowers of na no hana blooming underneath the pink sakura trees lining the river. (In case you were curious, the English name for no no hana is broccolini. The Japanese name is a bit more romantic, don't you think?)

2. Odoriko Onsen Kaikan
onsen and sakura

Imagine yourself soaking in an outdoor onsen while gazing at sakura in full bloom.

3. Behind the Odoriko Onsen Kaikan
couple enjoying sakura

The sakura planted on either side of this pedestrian walkway form a tunnel of blossoms when in full bloom.

4. The Original Tree of Kawazu-zakura
original sakura

This impressive sakura tree is more than sixty years old. It stands at nearly 33 feet (10 meters) high and has a trunk circumference of almost four feet (2.1 meters)!

5. Hosen Foot Bath
foot bath and sakura

Don't have time for a dip? You can still relax your tired feet free of charge in the footbath at Mine Onsen as you watch sakura petals float in the breeze.

6. Sakura Illuminations
illumination 1

Just when you though the scenery couldn't get any better, they added another layer of magic with strategic lighting. These illuminations (or "light ups" as they're called in Japanese) take place every day during the festival from 6pm to 9pm. The illuminations are centered around two major areas: downstream of Yakatabashi Bridge and the area from Hosenbashi Bridge to behind the Odoriko Onsen Kaikan.

illumination 2

Area Map

201602161008_1.png

Information

train

Access from Tokyo
Option one: Take the Odoriko or Super View Odoriko bound for Izukyu Shimoda Station to Kawazu Station. Approx. 2hrs 35min.
Option two: use your JR Rail Pass and take the Tokaido Shinkansen KODAMA bound for Nagoya / Osaka to Atami Station (approx. 55 min). Transfer there to the Ito or Izu Kyuko Line bound for Izukyu Shimoda Station to Kawazu Station (approx. 1hr 20min). Total travel time (excluding transfer time): approx. 2hrs 10 min.

Access from Mt. Fuji
Take the bus from Mt. Fuji / Mt. Fuji 5th Station to Mishima Station (approx. 2hrs).* Take the JR Tokaido-Honsen line to Atami Station (approx. 15min). Transfer there to the Ito Line / Izu Kyuko Line bound for Izukyu Shimoda Station to Kawazu Station (approx. 1hr 20 min). Total travel time (excluding transfer time): approx. 3hrs 35min.

*Buses run only once every two hours, so please be sure to consult the timetable in advance.
 

JR TOKYO Wide Pass


Not traveling enough in Japan to warrant getting a JR Rail Pass? Consider getting a JR TOKYO Wide Pass. This pass provides you with three days of unlimited travel on Shinkansen and limited express trains within the valid area, making it easy and affordable to visit popular tourist destinations outside of Tokyo such as Mt. Fuji, Izu, Karuizawa, and GALA Yuzawa. Learn more here!

※ Please note that the JR TOKYO Wide Pass is not valid on Tokaido Shinkansens and JR buses. Also note that a reserved seat ticket is necessary when riding the Super View Odoriko.

Offical Event Name: Kawazu Zakura Matsuri | 河津桜まつり
Location: Sasahara, Kawazu-cho, Kamo-gun, Shizuoka
Event period: February 10 - March 10, 2017
Hours: 
Illuminations of the rows of sakura trees: 6:00pm~9:00pm
Food vendors and souvenir stands: 9:00am~5:00pm
Access: Take the Limited Express Odoriko from Tokyo Station to Kawazu Station (approx. 2.5 hours). Another option is to take the JR Tokaido Main Line from Tokyo Station to Atami Station (approx. 50 min). From there, take the Izu Kyuko to Kawazu Station (approx. 1 hour 20 min).  
Website: http://www.kawazu-onsen.com/eng/

*Please note that photos used in this article are from 2015-2016. Vendors may differ this year. 
*Blooming period of the sakura is subject to weather conditions and may occur earlier or later than the dates listed in this article. Please check the offical website for the most up-to-date information. 
*Data for this article was updated February 2017.
 

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THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON INFORMATION FROM 02 05,2016 Author:Rachael Ragalye

 

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