Fukuoka Sakura and Ohanami Guide 2016

The blossoming of sakura (cherry blossoms) is an occasion for celebration all over Japan. Between late March and early April, families, friends and colleagues come together for hanami or “blossom-viewing” parties, picnicking, drinking and even singing karaoke in the city’s public parks beneath the riotous pink blossoms.

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2016 Sakura Forecast (as of Mar. 14)
Part of the magic of sakura is that you never know for certain when they’ll start to bloom or be in full bloom. To help you plan your hanami with better probability, refer to this website which offers updated forecast for sakura all around the country.

Fukuoka sakura 3:14

Japan sakura 3:14

Sakura graph 3:14

According to the forecast, sakura will begin to bloom earlier than regular years.
• In Fukuoka, sakura will begin to bloom on March 19, earlier than average and 2 days earlier than last year. Full bloom is expected on March 29.
• Saga’s sakura will begin to bloom on March 22, with full bloom around April 1.
• Nagasaki’s sakura will begin to bloom on March 24, with full bloom around April 3.
• Oita’s sakura will begin to bloom on March 20, with full bloom around April 2.
• Kumamoto’s sakura will begin to bloom on March 23, with full bloom around April 2.
• Miyazaki’s sakura will begin to bloom on March 26, with full bloom around April 4.
• Kagoshima’s sakura will begin to bloom around March 28, with full bloom around April 6.

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Fukuoka Now Sakura Map 2016
To help you and your friends find a place to enjoy the hanami season, we’ve made an online map of locations in Fukuoka known for nice sakura trees. We have over 50 sakura locations to choose from, plus a shortlist of 10 spots recommended by our sakura-savvy staff.


View Sakura Viewing in a larger map

Fukuoka Now Staff Recommend

1. Maizuru Park (Chuo-ku)
Access: 5 min. walk from Ohori-koen Subway Sta.
1,000 trees, illuminated at night
The Fukuoka Castle Sakura Festival runs from Mar. 25 (Fri.) to Apr. 3 (Sun.); with food stalls and trees and castle walls are lit up from 18:00 to 22:00 (3/26: 19:00~).
More info: http://www.fukuoka-now.com/en/event/fukuoka-castle-sakura-festival-2016/

2. Atago Shrine (Nishi-ku)
Access: 10 min. walk from at Atagoshita bus stop / 20 min. walk from Muromi Sta.
2,000 trees, illuminated at night (19:00~24:00)

3. Nishi Park (Chuo-ku)
Access: 5 min. walk from Arato 2-chome bus stop / 15 min. walk from Ohorikoen Sta.
1,300 trees, illuminated at night (3/24 ~ 4/11: sunset~22:00)

4. Nokonoshima Island (Nishi-ku)
Access: Catch ferry from Nokotosenba bus stop 
100 trees, illuminated on these nights: 3/26, 3/27, 4/2, 4/3 at 17:30~20:00

5. Minami Park (Chuo-ku)
Access: At Dobutsuen-mae bus stop (Fukuoka Zoo) / 15 min. walk from Sakurazaka Sta.
400 trees, daytime only
Sakura Quiz Rally: 3/27 (Sun.) 13:00~15:00
Walk around the park and answer questions about sakura – staff will be on standby at different areas of the park. The first 50 people to complete the quiz win a plant (seedling). This event is free, just register on the day.

6. Sannou Park (Hakata-ku)
Access: At Sannoukoen bus stop / 8 min. from Higashihie Sta.
300 trees, illuminated at night

7. Higashi Hirao Park (Hakata-ku)
Access: At Higashi Hirao Koen Iriguchi bus stop
1,600 trees

8. Sasayama Park (Itoshima City)
Access: At Chikuzen Maebaru Sta. (JR Chikuhi line)
700 trees

9. Kamado Shrine (Dazaifu City)
Access: 883 Uchiyama, Dazaifu City, Fukuoka (accessible by the ¥100 Mahoroba-gou Community Bus from Dazaifu Sta.)
100 trees

10. Reisen Park (Hakata-ku)
Access: 3 min. walk from Nakasukawabata Sta. / 2 min. walk from Kawabatamachi Hakataza-mae bus stop
32 trees

Bonus spots!

Tenjin Central Park (Chuo-ku)
Access: 3 min. walk from Tenjin Sta.
*pre-registration required for hanami (registrations can only be made at the Tenjin Central Park office)
50 trees along a path next to Yakuin Shinkawa River

Mt. Aburayama Citizens’ Forest (Jonan-ku)
Access: Jonan-ku, Fukuoka City, 1-hour walk from ‘Abura-yama-danchi-guchi’ bus stop (Nishitetsu Bus).
During weekends and holidays, there is a direct bus from Fukudaiseimonmae (at Fukudaimae Sta.)
2,000 trees

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Other Spots in Fukuoka

Akizuki Sugi-no-baba
Both side of 500m street, 200 sakura trees make tunnel.
Access: Kyodokan-mae bus stop, Amagi Kanko Bus from Amagi Sta. (20 min.)
Illumination: sunset ~ 22:00 (late Mar. ~ early Apr.)
Amagi Park illumination: sunset ~ 22:00 (late Mar. ~ early Apr.)

Asai Ippon-sakura
Over 100 years old one tree Yamazakura, 4.3m circumference and 18m high.
Access: 1511-1 Yamamotomachi-minou, Kurume City (20 min. from JR Zendouji Sta.)
Illumination: 19:00~21:00 (light-up period not decided yet)

Fukuoka Tower Sakura Illumination
Rotation of two sakura illumination patterns every 30 min.
Access: Bus: Fukuoka Tower-minamiguchi / Subway: 20 min. walk from Nishijin Sta.
Illumination: 19:00~23:00 (3/18 ~ 3/31)

Fukuoka JR Hakata City
Access: Hakataekimae Hiroba (in front of JR Hakata Sta.)
Illumination: 18:00~24:00 (3/3 ~ 4/6)
Many small trees (not sakura) with lights attached to create an image of sakura.

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Kyushu’s Sakura Spots
As a bonus 2016 addition to the Fukuoka Now Sakura Guide, we’ve listed up one no-fail sakura spot for Kyushu’s other six prefectures – for those venturing outside Fukuoka city limits!

➤SAGA
Ogi Park
Access: 185 Ogimachi, Ogi City
3,000 trees
Ogi Park was selected as one of the Japan’s top 100 sakura spots, and one of Japan’s top 100 historical parks. A koi carp lake and various shrines add to the peaceful atmosphere of this magical sakura spot. There will also be nighttime illumination, including bonbori (paper lanterns). Illumination schedule irregular. Confirm before going: https://www.city.ogi.lg.jp/main/5526.html

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➤NAGASAKI
Kameoka Park
Access: Iwanouemachi, Hirado City, Nagasaki
900 ~ 1,000 trees
Kameoka Park is well known for its cherry blossom trees. Enjoy your hanami picnic with the nearby Hirado Castle turrets as backdrop. The entrance will also be specially decorated.
Illumination: 18:00~21:00 (3/19 ~ 4/10)

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➤KUMAMOTO
Kumamoto Castle
Access: 1-1 Honmaru, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto
800 trees
Kumamoto Castle is by far the city’s most popular sakura spot. In the evening, sakura trees and the impressive castle structure are illuminated, so you’ll want to stay on long after the sun goes down.
Sakura illumination: sunset ~ 21:00 (late Mar. ~ early Apr.)
Spring Kumamoto Castle Festival (castle illumination): sunset ~ 23:00

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Photo source.

➤OITA
Oita Castle Ruin Park
Access: 4 Niagemachi, Oita City, Oita
68 trees
Sakura trees line the moat surrounding the historic castle, and the flowers reflect brilliantly on the water. Check out a google street view of the park during sakura season here. Another notable Oita option is Heiwa Shimin Park, with 800 cherry trees and night illumination.

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Photo source.

➤KAGOSHIMA
Shiroyama Park
Access: Ota, Ijuincho, Kagoshima City
3,500 trees
Take a sakura-filled walk through this park in downtown Kagoshima that extends over Mt. Shiroyama (107m elevation). The mountain was formerly the site of a castle fortification and overlooks Kagoshima City, Mt. Sakurajima and Kagoshima Bay.

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➤MIYAZAKI
Darumizu Park
Access: 5724-1 Oaza Uryuno, Miyazaki City
3,500 trees
Located on the Darumizu Plateau at an elevation of 120 meters, this famous cherry blossom viewing spot, nicknamed “Cherry Road”, has some 3,500 sakura trees of several different varieties (including Somei Yoshino, Yamazakura, and Yaezakura). Stick around for the nighttime tree illumination (~22:00) during the cherry blossom festival. The Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festival) runs from late March to early April.

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Photo source.

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Hanami How-to
Once you’ve picked your blossom-viewing spot, it’s time to prepare your hanami picnic. We recommend gathering a big group of friends and dividing items to bring, so you don’t forget or double up on anything!

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Tips
• Reserve your spot: Spread a ground sheet to “book” your spot. It’s necessary if you want to secure the perfect spot in a popular park.

• Bring warm clothes: Once the warm midday sun starts to fade, it becomes cold, very quickly. Bring an extra jacket to last through the afternoon to evening.

• Bring entertainment: A good hanami party lasts all day, so be prepared with books, magazines, iPod dock & speakers, playing cards, or even a guitar!

• Plan your food: Stray from combini snacks and opt for sakura-themed bento boxes from department stores or something homemade. Don’t forget the sake!

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Some Dos and Don’ts
Do not take up more space than is absolutely necessary. If you are a party of four, only take up enough space for four.
Do not blast loud music or sing karaoke too loudly. Many people enjoy sitting under the trees in quiet. Hanami is NOT synonymous with a drunken party.
Do bring cleaning supplies such as gloves and garbage bags – and remember to separate your trash into burnable, non-burnable, and recycling. Be prepared to take your gomi (rubbish) with you when you go, since most hanami spots do not have adequate garbage disposal facilities.
Do not sit on or damage the tree roots.
Do not bend the branches of the sakura trees or cut off their branches or blossoms. Leave them for everyone to enjoy.
Do be considerate of others.
Sakura_Festival

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Types of Sakura Trees
Japan has over one hundred types of sakura tree, including both cultivated and wild varieties. For centuries, they have been popular for decorative use in gardens and parks. The most popular variety is the Somei Yoshino, however you’re certain to see many other varieties during springtime in Fukuoka. Here’s a beginner’s lesson to help you notice some of the characteristics that differentiate the varieties of sakura

1. Number of petals: Wild sakura trees and the majority of cultivated trees have blossoms with five petals (e.g. Somei Yoshino). However, some species have blossoms of more than five petals. These species are called yaezakura, and range from those with around 20 petals (e.g. Ichiyo) to those with up to 300 petals (e.g. Kikuzakura).

2. Color of blossoms: The blossoms of a sakura tree can vary in color from the common light pink or white (e.g. Shogetsu) to more unusual varieties with dark pink (e.g. Kanzan), yellow or green (e.g. Ukon) blossoms. Some varieties’ blossoms even change color over the course of blooming.

3. Time of blooming: We associate sakura blossoms with springtime because the majority of trees bloom in the spring months, however it is not true for all varieties. Yaezakura are usually the last to bloom in spring, around four to five weeks later than five-petaled species, and some extreme varieties bloom in late autumn and even winter!

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Most common cherry tree varieties
• Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry)
By far the most common sakura tree in Japan, the Somei Yoshino was cultivated in Tokyo in the Edo Period. It has pale-pink, five-petaled blossoms and its fresh leaves do not emerge until after the peak of flowering, giving it an intense appearance.

• Yamazakura
This is the most common cherry tree variety that grows in the wild, rather than in cultivation. With five slightly pink, small petals, the blossoms appear at the same time as the Yamazakura’s fresh leaves, giving it a less intense look than the Somei Yoshino.

• Shidarezakura (Weeping Cherry)
These weeping cherry trees are among the most common and beloved in Japan. You’ll find two tree varieties – those with five petaled-blossoms, and those with blossoms of more than five petals (which bloom one week later).

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Sakura Vocabulary
Show your expertise and impress your picnic buddies by learning some seasonal Japanese vocabulary.

Sakura / 桜 / さくら: Cherry blossoms
Hanami / 花見 / はなみ : Cherry blossom viewing
Kaikayosou / 開花予想 / かいかよそう: Blooming prediction/forecast
Tsubomi / つぼみ: Bud
Sakihajime / 咲き始め / さきはじめ: Beginning to bloom
Migoro / 見頃 / みごろ: Best time to see
Gobuzaki / 5分咲き / ごぶざき: 50% bloom
Shichibuzaki / 7分咲き / しちぶざき: 70% bloom
Mankai / 満開 / まんかい: Full bloom
Chirihajime / 散り始め / ちりはじめ: Beginning to fall
Hazakura / 葉桜 / はざくら: Leaves

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Japanese Sweets – Spring Guide
Immerse yourself in the season by tasting sakura-flavored sweets in their many incarnations. From the display cabinets of high-quality Japanese sweets shops to the more humble shelves of chain stores and cafes – that pastel pink color and floral flavor is omnipresent in Japan during spring. If you’ve never tasted a sakura sweet before, you may be surprised by the taste… give it a try! Here are some places in Fukuoka where you can pick up limited-time-only cherry-blossom treats!

• Tsurunoko Limited Edition: Sakura (鶴乃子)
Avail. from Ishimura Manseido: 2-1, Suzaki, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City Tel.:092-291-1592
http://www.ishimura.co.jp
“Tsurunoko” originated at the end of the Meiji period. Usually, the marshmallow-like sweet is usually filled with yellow bean-jam, but a special springtime edition is released in time for cherry blossom season! You’ll love this light, fluffy pink treat filled with sakura jam. Sold at Ishimura Manseido – a traditional sweet shop in Hakata known for its excellent quality. These sweets are on sale from Jan. 15 at 10:00 to Apr. 8 at 9:59. This year, there will be a second sakura sweet on sale, sakura fuwari: these are made with kasutera dough and are filled with custard.

• Hiyoko Limited Edition: Sakura (ひよこ)
http://www.hiyoko.co.jp/news/letter/seasonitems/10491
Avail. from Yoshinodo (store info here: http://www.hiyoko.co.jp/en/shop/)
Hiyoko is baby chick shaped sweet. People have loved the pretty shape and the mellow flavor since its conception in Iizuka, 1912! Inside the special edition Sakura Hiyoko, you’ll find sweet pink sakura-flavored filling! A perfect souvenir of spring in Hakata, and as sweet as can be. These are only available in Fukuoka (available in many department stores and shopping centers across the city). You can also try their Sakura Dora-yaki, make with fresh eggs and original white bean jam (shiroan).

•MUJIRUSHI
http://www.muji.net/
This well-known Japanese brand has a full range of lifestyle gear, but did you know they also stock foods too? During spring, Muji’s food section offers a range of cheap and cheerful sakura-flavored snacks! Indulge in the Sakura Mochi Daifuku (¥150), Sakura Baumkuchen (¥180), Sakura Marshmallows (¥250), Sakura Cream Sandwich cookies (¥120), sakura mini dorayaki (¥180) and sakura-shaped cookies (¥250)!

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Convenience Store’s Sweets

Family Mart
• Sakura Mochi (¥138)

Lawson
• Premium Sakura and Dainagon Roll Cake (¥195)

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References:
http://tokyo.metblogs.com/2009/03/20/how-to-have-a-great-hanami/
http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2011/03/how-to-find-good-hanami-spot-cherry.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakura_Sakura
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2011_species.html

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Originally written in March 2016.
Copyright Fukuoka Now – including all text, photos and illustrations. Permission required to re-use in any form. Meanwhile, feel free to link to to this page.

NOTE: The information presented here was gathered and summarized by the Fukuoka Now staff. While we have done our best to check for accuracy, there might be errors and details may have changed. If you notice any errors or changes, please contact us. This report was originally written in March 2016.

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