Do you recognize the featured image? This used to be the “iconic” cherry blossom and rapeseed photo for Saitama Prefecture. You couldn’t look up 埼玉県 and 桜と菜の花 (Saitama Prefecture and cherry blossoms with rapeseed) without pulling up pages and pages of this image. It was used in blog posts, brochures, travel magazines. Nowadays, it barely features. Now when you search for “saitama ken” and “sakura to nanohana” in Japanese you get a mix of Kumagaya and Satte in the first page of search engine results and poor old Saitama City barely makes page two.
Cherry blossoms and rapeseed in Saitama City
Most surprisingly this beautiful scenery is in Saitama’s metropolis and capital city, not in the bucolic settings of Saitama’s rural towns. Even more surprising is that it has gone out of fashion as it is along the twenty kilometer stretch of Japan’s longest cherry blossom promenade. However, this particular spot is just one small stop on the longer cherry blossom walk.
This small photogenic spot is known as Miharashi Park in Kita Ward (Saitama). It is not a park in the typical sense. Just a small picturesque wooded area on a mound. Apart from the windmill and the wooden foot bridge, there is just a playground and a couple of picnic tables at the park. However, there is a large park “Citizen’s Forest Minuma Green Center” (with a free chipmunk zoo) north of the mound, over Kawashima Bridge. Literally, a one minute walk away.
The windmill is the pride and joy of the Minuma area of Kita ward in Saitama City. It is also the symbol of the area. It is not particularly big and it is quite old, but it is quaint and instaworthy! The wooden foot bridge really adds to the aesthetics. The different variety of cherry blossoms create a stark and stunning contrast to the white windmill. Particularly the brighter pink cherry in the foreground. The yellow rapeseed just sets it all off. A picture perfect cherry blossoms and rapeseed scene in Saitama’s principal city.
The rapeseed pictured isn’t even part of the Miharashi park. It is grown in the paddy fields beside the park. In days of yore, you could walk into the rapeseed so it was much easier to get a photo. But now they have signs up not to walk into the fields. So you have to take a wide shot from the foot path by the main road. Similarly to take a photo of the voluminous cherry blossoms in front of the Citizen’s forest south car park with the rapeseed in the foreground, you would need to stand in front of the windmill or walk right down to the bottom of the paddy fields.
Unless you are using the picnic tables or playground that this foot bridge leads to, you really wouldn’t need a lot of time at this photogenic spot. Thankfully, there is even more to snap and enjoy in the larger Citizen’s Forest Minuma Green Center across the road. Including hundreds of chipmunks. And even more cherry blossoms. A post for another day, watch this space!
2021 cherry blossom information
The cherry blossoms around the windmill are in full bloom, more or less. But the cherry blossoms at the nearby car park for the Citizen’s Forest haven’t really started. However, the sakura within the Citizen’s Forest Minuma Green Center are, for the most part, in full bloom. Check out the current status of cherry blossoms around Saitama Prefecture here.
Miharashi Park Information
|Address:||〒331-0804 Saitama, Kita Ward, Torocho, 2 Chome−４９|
|Online:||Official page on the Saitama City website|
The park is located relatively close to Toro Station. It takes less than 10 minutes on foot from Toro Station. Toro Station is on the Shonan Shinjuku line and the Utsunomiya Line. The station is less than 30 minutes from Northern Tokyo’s Itabashi Station on the Shonan Shinjuku line. And just 30 minutes from Ueno station on the Utsunomiya (Ueno-Tokyo) Line.
There is no car park at Miharashi Park. People park along the little country road for a quick visit to take photos of the windmill. But it is actually illegal to do that. Thankfully there is a car park at the Citizen’s Forest. On a weekday it is quite easy to get parking. However, on the weekend it gets very packed. There is however another car park on the North East of the park where it is easier to get parking on a busy day.