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Sakura with a difference

Cherry blossom time is coming to the Tokaido area, and even the gaijin know that that means long, boozy picnics under the glorious pink and white blossoms.  There’s barely a park in Japan without a sakura tree, so participating in this (ahem) cultural event is not difficult. But as the weather is only this good for a short time, why not take your flower viewing to the next level?

How does viewing the blossoms from a helicopter sound? If you like to appreciate nature from a god-like perspective, head to Takatojoshi Koen in Nagano (about fifteen minutes walk from Takato Station on the JR Iida line). A short ride will cost you 4500 yen to see the one and a half thousand trees in all their glory. The blossoms are usually out mid-April.

Prefer something quieter? Blossom viewing by boat is probably for you. In late March and early April there are boat rides along Otogawa in Aichi for 1000 yen per person. The closest station is Higashi-Okazaki on the Meitetsu Line. In Ogaki in Gifu you can be punted down the river from late March, also for 1000 yen.

Want something with a bit more retro flair? You’d better book early, because the steam train that runs from Kanaya to Senzu in Shizuoka is always popular, especially during cherry blossom time (generally early April). The journey takes an hour and a half, and as well as blossoms you can see the tea fields along the Ooi River. The number to call is 0547 45 4112.

If it’s spectacular pictures you’re after, it’s hard to top the view of Mt Fuji framed by cherry blossoms. Nihondaira, near Shizuoka Station in Shizuoka, not only has plenty of cherry blossom trees but on a clear day you can see the mountain. Also good is Kanukiyama, near the Numazu Station in Shizuoka – you can get a pagoda as well as the flowers and the mountain if you plan your shot right. Late March to early April should be the perfect time for your photos. Don’t forget, though – Mt Fuji is a ‘shy’ mountain, and delights in disappointing visitors by hiding behind clouds. Pick your day wisely, and go early if you can.

Finally, for those who just want to relax, you can also enjoy cherry blossoms from a bath. Gero is the obvious candidate here – many of the baths have views of blossoms. The easiest way to get a good sampling is to get a wooden pass for 1200 yen that will let you into three bathing places. You’ve probably also seen posters advertising Gero of  two cherry blossom trees lit up at night and reflected in a pool. It is said that they are 400 years old, and they generally bloom in mid-April. You’ll need to catch a bus from Gero to see them – be in front of the station at 8:10 pm and for 900 yen you get a tour and, if I’m not mistaken, a complimentary drink as well.

To check out the cherry blossom report, go to

For information about trains, can help you.