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Sakura in Hokuriku: 8 enchanting must-visit cherry blossom spots in Hokuriku

Sakura in Hokuriku: 8 enchanting must-visit cherry blossom spots in Hokuriku

Located along the Sea of Japan, the Hokuriku Region (北陸地方 Hokuriku chihō) boasts a captivating blend of rich history, scenic landscapes, and cultural charm. This diverse area, encompassing the prefectures of Niigata (新潟県 Niigata-ken), Ishikawa (石川県 Ishikawa-ken), Toyama (富山県 Toyama-ken), and Fukui (福井県 Fukui-ken), is renowned for its picturesque coastlines, mountainous terrain, and traditional crafts. 

 

The other lesser-known fact is that the area of Hokuriku is home to plenty of sakura (桜 cherry blossoms) spots during springtime (late March to late April). Located conveniently between Tokyo and Osaka, and often overlooked by many travellers, it is the perfect off-the-beaten path track to check out these eight cherry blossom spots in spring!

 

1. Takada Castle Site Park, Niigata Prefecture

(Image credit: Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association)

 

Perched in Niigata Prefecture, Takada Castle Site Park (高田城址公園 Takada jōshi kōen) boasts a rich history dating back to the 17th century. Renowned for its impressive architecture, the castle becomes a captivating sakura haven each spring. With around 4,000 cherry trees adorning the castle grounds, combined with the illuminated turret and paper lanterns, the scene is considered one of the three best nighttime cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. Takada Castle's blend of historical significance and the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms draw crowds, making it a cherished and popular sakura spot in Niigata.

 

Takada Castle Site Park (高田城址公園)
Address: 44−1 Motoshirocho, Joetsu, Niigata 943-0835
Nearest station: Joetsu Myoko Station (上越妙高駅) or Takada Station (高田駅)
Access: 10-minute drive from Joetsu Myoko Station or 15-minute walk from Takada Station
TEL: +81 25-526-5111

 

2. Negoya Flower, Greenery, and Snow Village, Niigata Prefecture

(Image credit: Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association)

 

Also in Niigata Prefecture, the Uonuma Shibazakura Festival (魚沼芝桜まつり Uonuma shibazakura matsuri) is a springtime extravaganza. Blooming shibazakura (moss phlox) transforms the Negoya Flower, Greenery, and Snow Village (根小屋 花と緑と雪の里 Negoya hana to midori to yuki no sato) into a vibrant sea of colours. While shibazakura flowers typically come in a pink hue, they also come in shades of white and light purple. Resembling cherry blossoms, the shibazakura (literally meaning “lawn sakura”) earns its name due to the striking similarity in petal appearance. Set against the scenic backdrop of the region's snow-capped mountains, this spectacle draws crowds seeking the perfect blend of cherry blossoms, lush landscapes, and snow-capped beauty.

 

Negoya Flower, Greenery, and Snow Village (根小屋 花と緑と雪の里)
Address: 5544-1 Negoya, Uonuma City, Niigata
Nearest station: Echigo-Horinouchi Station (越後堀之内駅)
Access: 5-minute drive from the station
TEL: +81 25-780-4560

 

3. Matsukawa River, Toyama Prefecture

(Image credit: 2023 Toyama Tourism Organization)

 

Flowing through Toyama Prefecture, Matsukawa River (松川) emerges as a beloved sakura spot, enchanting visitors with its scenic beauty. Lined with around 500 sakura trees, the riverbanks come alive in spring, creating a mesmerising pink corridor. Selected as one of the top 100 cherry blossom spots in Japan, the juxtaposition of the blossoms against the river's gentle flow offers a serene setting for hanami (花見) enthusiasts, making Matsukawa River a cherished destination where nature's elegance and the fleeting charm of sakura converge harmoniously.

 

Matsukawa River (松川)
Address: 1-34 Honmaru, Toyama, 930-0081
Nearest station: Toyama Station (富山駅)
Access: 10-minute walk from the station
Opening hours (River cruise): 10am–5pm (late March to November; closed on Mondays except during peak sakura period, days following national holidays, rainy weather and winter season; hours may vary)
Admission fee (River cruise): Varies depending on the season
TEL: +81 25-780-4560

 

4. Asahi Funakawa Spring Quartet, Toyama Prefecture

(Image credit: 2023 Toyama Tourism Organization)

 

As spring arrives in Asahi Town (朝日町 Asahi-machi), Toyama Prefecture, visitors flock to witness the vibrant burst of cherry blossoms, tulips, and nanohana flowers, creating a colourful spectacle at the base of a mountain adorned with lingering snow. This picturesque composition is aptly named the "Spring Quartet" (春の四重奏 Haru no shijūsō) enarmouring all who behold the harmonious display of nature's hues. A captivating cherry blossom tunnel, spanning 600 metres along both riverbanks, reflects in the clear water, with over 280 trees expertly maintained by locals. If you’re looking for a unique sakura viewing experience, the Asahi Funakawa Spring Quartet is definitely one to catch!

 

Asahi Funakawa Spring Quartet (春の四重奏)
Address: Funakawashin, Asahi-cho, Shimoshinkawa-gun, Toyama 939-0729
Nearest station: Tomari Station (泊駅)
Access: 10-minute ride on the free shuttle bus from the station
TEL: +81 765-83-2780

 

5. Kanazawa Castle Park, Ishikawa Prefecture

(Image credit: Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism League)

 

With its meticulously preserved walls, moats, and reconstructed castle buildings, Kanazawa Castle Park (金沢城公園 Kanazawa-jō kōen) offers a glimpse into the Edo Period's opulence. The iconic view of a Japanese castle framed by fluffy pink cherry blossoms is a must for any sakura fan. One way to best experience the sakura is to head to Ishikawa-mon (石川門) Gate where the cherry trees line the pathway connecting the famous Kenrokuen Garden (兼六園) to the castle grounds. Within the expansive castle grounds, numerous spots invite visitors to partake in the Japanese tradition of hanami, including Shinmaru Hiroba (新丸広場)—a vast grassy area flanked by a charming grove of cherry trees.

 

Kanazawa Castle Park (金沢城公園)
Address: 1-1 Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0937
Nearest station: Kanazawa Station (金沢駅)
Access: 15-minute bus ride from the station
Opening hours: 7am–6pm (March to mid October), 8am–5pm (mid October to end of February), 9am–4:30pm (Hishi Yagura, Gojukken Nagaya and Hashizume-mon)
TEL: +81 76-234-3800

 

6. Noto-Kashima Station, Ishikawa Prefecture

(Image credit: 石川県観光連盟)

 

Noto-Kashima Station (能登鹿島駅), also known as Noto sakura Station (能登さくら駅), nestled in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, is renowned for its picturesque charm, particularly during the cherry blossom season. Located on the Nanao Line (七尾線 Nanao-sen), visitors are captivated by the station's idyllic setting, surrounded by cherry blossom trees that burst into a breathtaking display of pink hues each spring. The station's popularity stems from its role as a gateway to the Noto Peninsula (能登半島 Noto-hantō)— a peninsula that projects north into the Sea of Japan from the coast of the prefecture. With over 100 cherry trees that line the tracks of the station, this quaint station is also a sight to behold with its illumination at night. 

 

Noto-Kashima Station (能登鹿島駅)
Address: I-1 Sobuku, Anamizumachi, Hosu District, Ishikawa 927-0039
TEL: +81 768-52-3790
*As of February 2024, it is currently suspended due to damage to train tracks caused by the 2024 Noto earthquake

 

7. Kanegasakigu Shrine, Fukui Prefecture

(Image credit: 公益社団法人福井県観光連盟)

 

Nestled in Fukui Prefecture, Kanegasakigu Shrine (金崎宮) is a cultural gem with roots tracing back to the 19th century. Renowned for its historic significance and also known by the name “Shrine of Love”, it draws many visitors who would visit not just for the cherry blossoms, but also to pray that they can find suitable romantic partners. Cherry blossoms envelop the shrine grounds, creating a serene and picturesque ambience. In early April, the shrine also holds an annual Flower-Exchanging Festival (花換まつり Hanakae matsuri), where couples can purchase cherry blossom branches to exchange and be blessed with happiness.

 

Kanegasakigu Shrine (金崎宮)
Address: 1-4 Kanegasaki-cho, Tsuruga, Fukui 914-0072
Nearest station: Tsuruga Station (敦賀駅)
Access: 18-minute bus ride on the Tsuruga Tour Bus from the station. Alight at Kanegasaki Miyaguchi and walk 10-minute.
TEL: +81 770-22-0938

 

8. Asuwa River, Fukui Prefecture

(Image credit: 公益社団法人福井県観光連盟)

 

Asuwa River (足羽川 Asuwa-kawa), winding through Fukui Prefecture, becomes a captivating sakura spot each spring. Lined with around 600 cherry trees, the riverbanks transform into a breathtaking canvas of pink blossoms. The annual Asuwa River sakura Festival celebrates this natural spectacle, drawing visitors with its vibrant displays and cultural events. The rows of sakura trees feature one of the longest stretches of cherry blossom trees in Japan. For a panoramic view from above, the nearby Mt. Asuwa (足羽山 Asuwa-yama) Deck stands ready to provide a breathtaking perspective.

 

Asuwa River Cherry Blossom Row (足羽川 桜並木)
Address: 1-11 Tsukumo, Akari-cho, Fukui, Fukui 918-8001
Nearest station: Fukui Station (福井駅)
Access: 15-minute walk from the station
TEL: +81 776-20-5346

 

Sakura_Forecast_2024.jpg (130 KB)

(Image credit: JAPAN RAIL CAFE)

 

These eight spring spots in the Hokuriku Region offer a glimpse into Japan's breathtaking springtime beauty. If you’re planning to travel between Tokyo and Osaka with the Hokuriku Arch Pass, be sure to stop by Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, or Fukui and include some of these sakura spots into your itinerary! 

 

If you would like to find out more about other sakura spots you can check out during your visit to Japan in spring, check out JAPAN RAIL CAFE’s Sakura Bloom Forecast 2024 on their social media pages or browse through JR Times for more guides on seasonal floral blooms.



Header image credit: 公益社団法人福井県観光連盟, 石川県観光連盟, 2023 Toyama Tourism Organization and Niigata Prefectural Tourist Association

 

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