This article is contributed by Fukui Prefecture.
New year, new me!
As the beautiful ‘sakura’ cherry trees start blossoming across Japan, a new year begins for students and workers all over the country, bringing forth both exaltation at the prospect of an exciting new school or job, and a little sadness from having to part with some of the people we’ve been close to for years. In their own way, the emblematic Japanese flowers have come to symbolize the transient nature of life.
Katsuyama Benten Zakura
Throughout this article, we would like to introduce the many places in Fukui where one can, from early to mid-April, take in the wondrous sight as well as partake in everyone’s favorite spring tradition: ‘hanami’, or the Japanese art of admiring the delicate flowers. Cherry blossoms offer a particularly stunning spectacle when found near castles, shrines and temples, and as luck would have it, there is no shortage of such centuries-old cultural assets around Fukui Prefecture!
When speaking of famous 'hanami' spots in Fukui, one just has to mention the some 600 sakura trees that line up the Asuwa River running through downtown Fukui City. There, you’ll get to prance through a fairytale-like tunnel of light pink flowers going on for over 22 kilometers, one of the longest in the country.
Listed together with the riverbank trees as one of the top 100 places for admiring the cherry blossoms in Japan is the nearby Asuwa Shrine, where a 370-year-old weeping cherry tree stands tall and attracts visitors from all over every year.
One of just twelve castles in the whole country to have made it through the centuries with their original keeps intact, the Sakai City landmark ―originally built in the early 1600s― is yet another one of the Japan's top 100 ‘hanami’ locations you’ll find here in Fukui.
As a matter of fact, the local sightseeing spot is also known as the “Castle in the Mist” for its whimsical appearance in the spring, when it appears to be floating over the 400 ‘sakura’ trees that surround the castle grounds.
In the city of Katsuyama ―perhaps most famous for being home to one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums― more than 450 ‘sakura’ trees line the banks of the local Kuzuryu River.
Every year in April, the gorgeous flowers come into full bloom, in stark contrast to the tall, snow-covered mountains soaring in the background. A picturesque promenade going through a some 1.5-kilometer-long tunnel of cherry blossoms gives sightseers a chance to appreciate the breathtaking sight from up close.
As a central transportation hub connecting the Wakasa Bay ―a treasure trove of seafood and other delights― to the ancient capital of Kyoto, the historic post town of Kumagawa-Juku saw its share of eminent figures, samurai warriors and countless travelers come and go throughout the centuries.
The old-timey townscape still features many elements from back in the day, but that doesn’t mean it should be considered a thing of the past, nay nay! In line with Japan’s reputation as a place where tradition meets modernity, fun new projects such as cafes, guesthouses and outdoor markets are regularly launched in the area.
A beautiful Shinto Shrine located in the heart of the charming Tsuruga Port, Kanegasakigu is known around here for its Hanakae Festival, held every year in April. Throughout the event, young folks exchange cherry blossom branches in the hope of finding true love.
This “shrine of love” might be the best place to visit this ‘sakura’ season if single and ready to mingle!
When discussing spring flowers, one shouldn’t overlook the almighty ‘ume’ plum, from which is made a favorite among both locals and tourists alike: ’umeshu’ plum wine.
A great place for taking in the lovely sight is around the Five Lakes of Mikata ―each one of a different composition and depth, and thus of a different shade of blue― of Wakasa Town, where more than 80,000 ‘ume’ trees come into bloom from February to March, announcing the arrival of spring a little earlier than the more famous ‘sakura’.
Wakasa, in the south of Fukui, is the largest producer of plums on the coast of the Sea of Japan and, when comes summer, you’ll find vendors selling their delicious goods on the street across the area!
That’s it for our list of some amazing ‘hanami’ spots around Fukui Prefecture. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube at #ExperienceFukui for travel ideas, local tips and everything else there is to know about this hidden gem of central Japan!
Take a limited express train to Fukui Station (45 minutes from Kanazawa) or Tsuruga Station (90 minutes from Kyoto/Osaka).
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