An air base cherry blossom festival in Saitama Prefecture, more info on insaitama.com

An Air Base Cherry Blossom Festival in Saitama Prefecture, Japan ~ last update March 16th 2022.

In both 2020 and 2021 the cherry blossom festival at Kumagaya Air base was cancelled on account of the Coronavirus. But in November 2021 they set a date for the 2022 cherry blossom festival… However, regrettably they subsequently announced they would be cancelling it. They just have a one liner on their website to say it is cancelled, so I don’t know when they made the decision, but presumably it was either in February or early March.

An Air Base Cherry Blossom Festival

An air base cherry blossom festival in Saitama Prefecture, more info on insaitama.com

While doing some regular routine updates of older posts on January 3rd 2022, I happened to come across Fly team Japan’s announcement of the 2022 cherry blossom festival at Japan Air Self Defence Forces (JASDF) Kumagaya Air Base. It was actually posted in November 2021. I am excited at the prospect that there may actually be some cherry blossom festivals in 2022. Moreover, at one of the cherry blossom festivals that made an indelible impression on me. And it would seem its not just me that it left a lasting impression on: it is one of those events that attracts thousands even without advertising anywhere. (Except their homepage). It is of course subject to the situation with the Coronavirus.

Kumagaya Air Base Cherry Blossom Festival

Not only are the cherry blossoms on the Kumagaya air base stunning, but the sakura festival is one of the better ones in Saitama Prefecture. Especially if you are a fan of helicopters and airplanes as I am. It was an amazing day out culminating in an electrifying chinook flight display. The festival is worth the journey even without this invigorating pinnacle, but seeing the chinook taking off was personally a highlight for me.

The Cherry Blossoms

There are hundreds of mature cherry blossoms in various locations around the base:

Along the main avenue is particularly resplendent, but constantly crowded so its hard to get a good photo. But each of the avenues have lines of sakura. Some of them are closed to the public, but there are quiet a few that are open. There are sakura around the permanent display of old out of use air craft too.

Hanami

There are trees you can picnic under.
Festival stalls at Kumagaya Air base sakura festival
There are dozens of food stalls.

It is possible to do hanami at the Kumagaya Air Base Cherry Blossom Festival. There is a section of sakura by the “Miizu” field where you can hanami. And there are dozens of food stalls where you can pick up festival type food and drinks. There are also vending machines dotted around the air base.

Experiences

There are several elements to the sakura / cherry blossom festival at Kumagaya Air Base in Saitama. There is no entrance charge to the base and most of the events are free. Occasionally a craft or hands on experience has a nominal charge and of course all food and drink is charged too.

Gliders: A highlight of the festival for my (then) 9 and 8 year old was getting to sit in and mess around with the controls of single and dual seat glider planes.

Drones: There were several different drone events. This one was indoor and my older kids operated drones that were behind a net. We could watch from the pictured monitor. This one was free, I am not sure about the other ones.

Kids can dress up in mini military outfits ➡ this is a very popular event so if you would like to partake I advise that you head along to the area when you arrive and put your name down. They will give you a time to come back, or if you’re lucky and its not too busy yet, they will give you a choice of costume for the kids to wear then and there. Outfits include the beloved “Blue Impulse” costume.

For my younger two kids, then 6 and 4, they said there favorite part was actually exploring and riding on various different military vehicles.


Mascots: There are several mascots walking around and you can approach them to get your photo taken with them.

Photo Props: There are photo props around the base including this one by the F-1 display. You can do it with or without the helmet.

A chinook taking off at the 2019 JASDF Kumagaya Air Base Cherry blossom festival

This is just some of the highlights, there really was a huge amount of things to do as well as spectate. I haven’t even touched on the number of vehicles on display. Some you could go into / ride, but some of them were just for admiring from afar. And then there was a mini air show as well as the grand finale of the helicopter show (with three different helicopters including the Chinook above). That just blew me away – quite literally and figuratively!

JASDF Kumagaya Cherry Blossom Festival 2022

The 2022 Japan Air Self Defence Forces (JASDF) Cherry Blossom Festival at Kumagaya Air base is tentatively planned for Sunday April 3rd 2022. The base will open to the public from 9 am to 3 pm. Please do check with the official website for the most up-to-date information. Official notification of intent to hold the festival, released November 1st 2021. Official website where they now have a one line message that the cherry blossom festival is cancelled in 2022.

Access JASDF Kumagaya Air Base

By car

The base is close to national route 17 and relatively close to the Yorii Smart Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway (E17). Please note with a Smart Interchange you need to have an ETC card in your car or you can not exit. The area around the base is very congested during the festival, but there is plenty of parking. Some of the parking is quite far off by car, but there are pedestrian routes which are short cuts. Parking is managed very well. The car parks we have used have been free, but I cannot say for sure if they all are.

By public transport

The nearest train station is the Kagohara Station on the JR Takasaki line. It is about a 30 minute walk to the festival / base from the train station.

FAQ

Can you visit a JASDF Air Base in Japan?

Yes. There are a few opportunities to visit a military base in Japan. For example, in Saitama Prefecture, the Kumagaya Air Base is open to the public for one day during sakura season for its annual cherry blossom festival on base. Likewise, the air base in Iruma opens it door to the public every November 3rd for its acclaimed air show.

Another air base event in Saitama Prefecture: An alternative Iruma Air Show in 2021

2 Comments

    1. Author

      It really is, I’m looking forward to this year’s already. Was definitely a highlight of 2019! Thanks Andy.

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