The sakura viewing season in late March or early April is one of the most popular tourist-visiting periods in Japan. Travelling during this period requires early planning to secure flight and accommodation, which are usually at a premium price. If you would like to avoid this peak period or have the intention to travel to Tokyo in February, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that sakura-viewing is definitely possible at the Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossom Festival. The best news about it is that the location is easily accessible with only 2.5 hours away from Tokyo!
To travel to Kawazu from Tokyo, you can take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Atami (fully covered by the JR pass), and transfer to the Ltd Express Super View Odoriko train to Kawazu. However, do note that JR pass holders (except for JR East Rail Pass) need to pay a supplementary charge as the rail route between JR Ito Station and Kawazu Station is operated by the Izukyu Line and is not covered by your pass.
The Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event held in Kawazu, a small town on the Izu Peninsular. The festival features the early blooming Kawazu-zakura cherry blossom species and turns the walking path along the 4-kilometre Kawazu river into a romantic pink landscape of 8,000 blooming Kawazu-zakura trees from late February to early March.
Be prepared to stand in awe of the gorgeous view of Kawazu-zakura from the moment you stepped out of the Kawazu train station with many visitors starting snapping the beautiful sight right away! Do beware also of the massive crowd in the train station. After all, this is a popular hanami or cherry blossom viewing festival that attracts more than 2 million visitors every year!
Let’s begin our romantic stroll along Kawazu river! The weather was awesome with the occasional breeze and there were various views of hanami under different lightings. Here are some images of the first Kawazu-zakura tree outside the train station.
What a pretty sight! I manage to snap a photo of Kawazu-zakura and nanohana flowers in a frame. Nanohana is also known as the “rape blossom”. It’s a seasonal vegetable that blooms yellow flowers in spring.
You will also pass by some refreshment sections with several food stalls selling seasonal sakura-theme snacks and food such as sakura mochi and sakura pasta.
The festival is also popular with families and pets lovers who love sharing beautiful moments with their loved ones.
Dried food and spring flowers on also sale.
Travel tips for visiting the Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossom Festival
#1 You may plan your visit based on the information map from the official website here.
#2 Besides admiring the Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossoms, there are also other attractions nearby the festival venue such as;
- Kawazu Seven Waterfalls: Accessible by bus from the bus stops along the river canal.
- Mine Onsen Daifunto (Fountain Park): Known as the No. 1 hot spring fountain in Asia and it spouts 7 times in a day. This is a great venue for a foot bath.
- National Natural Treasure Big Camphor Tree: Located near he Kinomiya Shrine, this tree is more than 1,000 years old!
- The Original Tree of Kawazu-zakura: Located near the Kawazu Town Hall, this tree is more than 60 years old and is about 10 meters high.
#3 You may also want to stay longer in the festival and wait for the lighting up of the Kawazu Cherry Blossoms under the Loop Bridge, which starts from 6 pm to 9 pm daily. While waiting for time to pass, you can visit the Odoriko Onsen Kaikan Hot Spring Facility. This hot spring has a one-day onsen package, which charges 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children. More information can be found at their website.
#4 To plan the route from your original destination, I recommend you to use the Hyperdia app to make travel easy.
#5 For more information on trains, you can refer to this website. I would recommend you to take the Super-view Odoriko train as it has huge panoramic windows. If you are travelling with children, you may want to reserve Car 10 which has a kid’s playing area. If you are travelling during weekends and holidays, try to take the Resort Odoriko Train with special observation seats for a scenic view of the Izu Peninsular.
#6 I went to the festival on a sunny afternoon and it was quite challenging to capture nice photos without harsh shadows. Hence, I would recommend you to go during the late afternoon so that it is easier to take photos.
#7 The 2018 Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossom Festival has already started on 10 February and will end on 10 March. Do enjoy the spring romance at Kawazu!