Nagano, the Perfect Cherry Blossom Spot!
Thinking about traveling a little further to enjoy the cherry blossoms in the Koushinetsu area for a springtime vacation?
If you are headed down to Koushinetsu to marvel at the blooming cherry trees, we recommend visiting Shinshu, Nagano Prefecture. Known for its beautiful mountain ranges and lakes, Nagano is also home to a handful of scenic sites famous for cherry blossoms.
Here are some must-visit cherry blossom spots in Nagano.
Nagano City Joyama Park
The city of Nagano originally developed as a temple town for Zenko-ji Temple.
Located to the east of Zenko-ji temple, Joyama Park is one of the most popular Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots in the city. The approximately 470 Somei Yoshino cherry trees blooming during peak season are a gorgeous sight to behold.
The park is located on a hill, making it an ideal spot for enjoying the lit-up cherries against the beautiful night scenery backdrop.
Countless teashops also line the park during the Hanami season, attracting a number of visitors.
Access: Approximately 30 minutes by car from the Joshinetsu-do Nagano IC, or 25 minutes from the Joshinetsu-do Suzaka Nagano IC.
Takato Castle Site Park (Ina City)
Also known as Kabutoyama Castle, Takato Castle is one of Japan's 100 most famous castles and a popular cherry blossom spot.
Embellishing the park are some 1,500 Takato Kohigan cherry trees, characterized by their flowers which are smaller than those of Somei Yoshino cherry trees and have a redder hue.
Access: Approximately 30 minutes by car from the Chuo-do Ina IC, or one hour from the Chuo-do Suwa IC.
Garyu Park (Suzaka City)
Known for the Ryu-jin Legend, Garyu Park has been recognized as one of the 100 best cherry blossom viewing sites in Japan, along with the Takato Castle Site Park.
Equally awe-inspiring as the cherry blossoms themselves are the reflections of the trees on the Ryuga-ike Pond.
The park also contains a zoo and well equipped playground where families can spend time.
Access: Approximately 10 minutes by car from the Joshinetsu-do Suzaka Nagano-east IC.
Matsumoto-jo Castle (Matsumoto City)
Matsumoto-jo Castle is one of the 12 remaining castles that have a tenshukaku (keep tower).
April is the peak season for the Somei Yoshino and Yae Zakura cherry trees surrounding the castle.
The cherry blossoms have a beautiful backdrop in the form of a scenic view of the snow-capped Northern Alps and Matsumoto-jo Castle lit up at night.
Access: Approximately 15 minutes by car from the Nagano-do Matsumoto IC via Japan National Route 158.
Ueda Castle Ruins Park (Ueda City)
Built during the Age of Warring States by Samurai Sanada, Ueda Castle is home to over a thousand cherry trees including Somei Yoshino, Weeping Cherry and Ukon Zakura.
Night cherry blossom viewing and special stage events are held during the Ueda Castle Thousand Cherry Tree Festival.
Access: Approximately 15 minutes by car from the Joshinetsu-do Ueda Sugadaira IC via Japan National Route 18.
Travel Nagano in a rental car for a hassle-free trip!
Central terminals such as Nagano Station and Matsumoto Station are bustling stations with a frequent stream of express and bullet trains passing through them.
However, this doesn't necessarily mean that there is easy access to hanami spots from these stations.
The above-mentioned hanami spots are all within a 30-minute drive from ICs and highways.
If you are traveling through Nagano, renting a car will free you from train schedules and restrictive routes.