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.
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.
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.
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.
Sakura softserve ice cream.
Sakura mochi with a salt preserved sakura flower.
Fried sakura mochi.
Strawberry Daifuku topped with a salt preserved sakura blossom.
Enjoy one of each!
Kawazu's Must-See Sakura Spots
1. The Hosen Bashi Bridge and Surrounding Area
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
Imagine yourself soaking in an outdoor onsen while gazing at sakura in full bloom.
3. Behind the Odoriko Onsen Kaikan
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
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
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
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.
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
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).
*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