Each year after the Kawazuzakura and before the Somei Yoshino bloom, the striking Jindai Akebono variety showcase their beautiful pale pink petals. For several years, I have visited a secret spot in Kumagaya for Jindai Akebono. When I say “secret”, it wasn’t that I was keeping them secret, but that – until last year – they really did not have an online presence. And because they didn’t have an online presence, I didn’t know – until last year – that they are actually part of the “Oegawa 1000 Cherry Blossoms“.
Oegawa 1000 Cherry Blossoms
It turns out that the reason they didn’t have an online presence is because they were part of a ten year project that only finished in 2019. Since 2009, one thousand trees were planted in the Oegawa area, along a twelve kilometer hiking course. The majority of them are of the Jindai Akebono variety. Unbeknownst to me, the section I have visited for the last few years, is only just one small section. And, unfortunately, due to the timing of the bloom, schedule restraints and the bad weather this year, I was only able to investigate one new section this year. But it took my breath away and I am very excited to share it with you:
The section that I have been visiting for years is near the Heritage Resort. This section is called “Oegawa’s Satoyama 1000 cherry blossoms mountain area”. Its thanks to a spring break tradition of meeting friends at Kawamoto Sun Green Park that I discovered these Jindai Akebono cherry blossom trees. They are along the road I use, route 47 aka the Fukaya Higashimatsuyama line, to get to and from Kawamoto Sun Green Park.
I will never forget the first year they bloomed. It was love at first sight! I didn’t have time to stop on the way to Fukaya, but on the way back we investigated. And we have been going back every year since. It was thanks to a tweet by “RTKumagaya” that I came to realize the Jindai Akebono here are part of the Oegawa 1000 Cherry Blossoms.
This year, the new (to me) section I visited is along a covert back road. I doubt you can drive on the road, but it is a popular cycling course. On the above map, it is around where the orange line starts at the top left of the route map. It is called the Funagawa area. As far as I am aware it preexists the sakura as a hiking route. As you can see in the photo below, the road is quite narrow.
I have absolutely no doubt, that these sakura will be famous in the future. No doubt at all. In fact, I guarantee it!! The two sections that I have seen with my own two eyes are breathtakingly beautiful. The Oegawa 1000 Cherry Blossoms are in my personal top ten Saitama Sakura spots and it won’t be long until they are on many more top ten lists! Moreover, this year Kumagaya started promoting the area, which I say they would have done sooner had it not been for the pandemic. For example, the map above came from the Kumagaya City Hall this year.
Work in progress
The plan was to post this as a “Photo Friday” on the 24th of March, because I don’t have enough information about the area yet to give it a detailed post. But Friday didn’t work out – as the expression goes “man plans, and God laughs”! As there is an interest, (I’ve had quite a few inquiries about the photos I posted on social media) I decided to share what I do know. And I promise, I will build on this article over the next couple of years!
Sakura Spot: Oegawa (Satoyama) 1000 Cherry Blossoms 小江川の里山千本桜
Sakura Variety: Jindai Akebono, scientific name Prunus x yedoensis . In Japanese ジンダイアケボノ or 神代曙
Bloom Period: Generally around the third / fourth week / end of March. This year they were a little early I think.
Location: Oegawa (Oegawa Satoyama 1000 Cherry Blossoms Funagawa area 小江川の里山「千本桜 船川エリア」), 1611 Oegawa, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0103. View on Google Maps.
The biggest problem with this area is access. There is currently no official parking for either the sakura or for hiking in the area. An issue several people have brought up with Kumagaya City (on Twitter), so I am optimistic that by the 2024 sakura season they will have an official parking area.
By public transport its equally tricky. This area of Kumagaya is not near a train station. There is a bus stop that is about a 15 minute walk away from part of the trail. You can get a bus bound for Saitama Cardiovascular and Respiratory Center “県立循環器・呼吸器病センター行” from Kumagaya Station and alight at Minamiohara bus stop.