Saitama’s Kabazakura –
Last year (2017) we went to visit Saitama’s most famous cherry blossom in Kitamoto. It is one of Japan’s five designated “great” sakura. Moreover, it is the only naturally formed kabazakura in the whole world, a true one of a kind. It is approximately 800 years old. Revered for hundreds of years, its majesty was officially sealed in 1922 when it was designated a natural monument of Japan.
The name “Kabazakura” is said to come from the brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. His brother Noriyori, had a nickname Kaba No Okaja that he was using at the time that he was killed. The tree is believed to be a hybrid of the Edohigan and Yamazakura variations of cherry blossom.
Each year thousands of admirers come to pay homage to this living legend, if you will. A relic that has withstood not just the test of time, but dozens of natural and man-made disasters of epic proportions. When we made our pilgrimage last year we timed it to the cherry blossom festival the Tokoji temple hosts during the blooming period. However, last year the cherry blossom forecast was askew and the festival ended up being on just as the sakura were opening. The kabazakura in Ishito, Kitamoto, typically blooms for about 10 days in early to mid April.
Although, we missed the kabazakura in its full glory, the trip was definitely worth it as you can feel the power as you get close to the tree. There are about six other cherry blossom trees in the immediate vicinity, but there are plenty of other spots in Kitamoto where you can see beautiful cherry blossoms. The Takao Sakura park is nearby as is Kitamoto Children’s Park. The latter is the perfect place to hanami with young children. The day we visited Kitamoto Ishito Kabazakura was just one stop on our one day itinerary for Kitamoto. We sandwiched the visit between a morning romp and hanami in the children’s park and the excellent free Pocky factory tour in the afternoon.
The Kitamoto Ishito Kabazakura Festival details for 2018: