The Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Guide
It goes without saying that the most famous spring event in Japan is the annual bloom of cherry blossoms (sakura) that takes place around the country. Kanazawa’s cherry blossoms are particularly beautiful, owing to the city’s many historical neighborhoods and architecture that make the perfect backdrop for nature’s beautiful blooms. Cherry blossom season is short-lived at about one week in duration and usually occurs in early April in Kanazawa, about a week later than Tokyo and Osaka. Here are a few of our recommendations for enjoying the sakura season in Kanazawa.
As one of Japan's three most beautiful gardens, Kenrokuen is one of the obvious hotspots for spring cherry blossoms. However, you may not know what makes Kenrokuen such a spectacular place to enjoy the blooms. For starters, the garden contains several varieties of cherry trees, which gives different parts of the garden a varied appearance during cherry blossom season and prolongs the season, with some types blooming earlier in the season and others toward the end.
You'll find a lovely view of sakura reflected on the water at Hisago-ike Pond where you can enjoy the view with the Kaiseki Pagoda. Another incredible view is Hanami-bashi, which translates to "Flower Viewing Bridge" and is both a great subject and viewing spot for cherry blossoms in Kenrokuen.
One of the lesser-known secrets about Kenrokuen is that the admission fee is waived for a period during peak cherry blossom viewing season to enable anyone who wishes to enjoy its spectacular scenery to take a stroll through the garden!
Kanazawa Castle Park
A stroll around Kenrokuen Garden is not complete without enjoying the scenery of the adjacent Kanazawa Castle Park. Its beautifully preserved walls and moats and reconstructed castle buildings provide a contextual view of what the Lords of Kanazawa Castle enjoyed during the Edo Period of Japanese history. For many visitors, the scenery of a Japanese castle framed by branches of fluffy pink cherry blossoms is an iconic view of Japan that must be experienced. If you are one of those, consider the view of the castle from Ishikawa-mon Gate, where cherry trees flank the walkway connecting Kenrokuen Garden to the castle grounds. Another of Kanazawa Castle Park's more dramatic sakura views is along the Uchibori inner moat, where the cherry trees are reflected on the mirror-like surface of the moat against the impenetrable stone walls of the castle.
In the vast area of the castle grounds, there are several places where you can lay out a picnic mat and enjoy the Japanese tradition of hanami cherry blossom viewing under the trees. One of those locations is Shinmaru Hiroba, a large grassy area lined on one side with a grove of cherry trees.
Cherry Blossom Illuminations of Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen Garden
During the peak of cherry blossom season, the cherry trees of both Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenrokuen Garden are illuminated with LED lights. Even if you visited these areas during the day, return at night for a completely different view of the cherry blossoms that must be experienced to be believed. The scene of the lovely cherry blossoms reflected on the dark surface of the pond will be memories of Kanazawa you'll treasure forever.
Specific areas of Kenrokuen Garden are illuminated for cherry blossom viewing, and the rest of the garden is closed to visitors at night. Admission to the garden is free during the illumination period.
While Kanazawa Castle Park is open to the public every evening, the cherry blossom illumination is a seasonal event that occurs in the best viewing spots for cherry blossoms in and around the park. Ishikawa-mon Gate is a favorite location where the castle structures and cherry trees are illuminated in breathtaking fashion. There is no admission fee to enter the park.
Kazuemachi Chaya District Along the Asanogawa River
There is something exceedingly peaceful about the soft petals of cherry blossom trees drifting slowly down to streets lined with the worn wood structures of old Japan. One of the best places in Kanazawa to experience this phenomenon each spring is the Kazuemachi Chaya District which lies across the Asanogawa River from Higashi Chaya. While you'll find a few cherry trees gracing the narrow streets within Kazuemachi Chaya, the best views are along the riverbank path between the district and the Asanogawa River. From the picturesque Nakanohashi Bridge, you can view the line of cherry trees scattering their pink petals over the path in front of the district's historical wooden buildings and into the gently flowing waters of the river.
Saigawa Riverbank to Sakura Hill
One of Kanazawa's loveliest places for a morning stroll or jog, the Saigawa Riverbank explodes in puffs of pink each spring as dozens of cherry trees in several varieties come into bloom. Nearly every morning, you'll find locals enjoying this stretch of the river with wide walkways and grassy areas to walk, cycle, or even play sports.
One of the best views of cherry blossoms is around the Sakura Bashi Bridge, where you can climb the steep but beautiful Sakura Hill along the riverside. The slope is interspersed with several types of cherry trees, and there is a commanding view from the top of the riverside lined with sakura trees.
Farther up the river, you'll find spacious Saigawa Ryokuchi Park, an excellent spot for a picnic or traditional Japanese hanami cherry blossom viewing. The park has many cherry trees and a lot of room to spread out, so bring your picnic mat, lunch, and loved ones to enjoy a day at the park under the blossoms.
Of course, you'll find cherry blossoms spots spread throughout our wonderful city, and you will probably discover some new places that you enjoy even more than these. So consider these suggestions a starting point in your exploration of our city, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of spring on your next trip to Kanazawa.