Hokkaido is Japan's largest (by size) and northernmost prefecture, and it's a beloved spot during the winter months due to the bounty of powdery snow the region gets. When all that snow melts away the region still has plenty to offer, and the spring season here is an absolute delight. Cherry blossoms are just one drawcard, and thanks to the prefecture's location the trees bloom later here than elsewhere in the country - some of them are still blooming even around late May! Here are five of the best cherry blossom spots to enjoy the beauty of spring up north.
From around late April to late May, Hokkaido's Matsumae Park comes alive with around 10,000 cherry trees in bloom from around 250 different species. Best of all, since there are early, mid, and late blooming sakura varieties at the park, visitors have a longer window to enjoy the spectacular floral beauty. If you need any additional incentive to stop by, the park has been named on the list of Japan's Top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots!
Matsushiro, Matsumae, Matsumae District, Hokkaido 049-1511
Shizunai Nijukken Road
From the early to mid May timeframe, Hokkaido's Shizunai Nijukken Road is an amazing place to enjoy the beauty of sakura season. The route was named as one of Japan's Top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots, and close to 3000 trees line the roadside for approximately 7 kilometers. When the trees are in bloom the Shizunai Cherry Blossom Festival takes place, and there are usually a range of different food vendors and seating set up for visitors to appreciate the blooms.
Shizunaitahara, Shinhidaka, Hidaka District, Hokkaido 056-0144
Hakodate's star-shaped Goryokaku fort was built back in 1866 not for aesthetics, but for function. The shape meant that more artillery could be placed on its walls compared to typical Japanese fortresses, and it also limited the amount of blind spots where a cannon couldn't fire. These days the Goryokaku is a popular spot during cherry blossom season, and with good reason - from above you can see that perfect pastel pink star-shape!
44 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001
Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine
Sapporo's Maruyama Park is said to have been a famous place for enjoying cherry blossoms since ancient times, and there are around 160 cherry trees on the grounds, including Ezoyama and Somei Yoshino varieties. Full bloom tends to be around the early-May timeframe here, which coincides with Japan's Golden Week break - it's no wonder this spot draws in some significant visitor numbers!
Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0959
From around late April to early May each year, the banks of Sapporo's Shinkawa River are filled with the springtime beauty of around 800 cherry trees in bloom. The trees lining the river stretch on for several kilometers, making it the perfect place for a scenic stroll or bike ride. As this is a public walking area there is no admission fee, so if you're in the area be sure to enjoy Mother Nature's splendor at no cost.
17 Chome-2 Kita 24 Jonishi, Kita Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 001-0024