Cherry blossoms and Rapeseed in Yoshimi Town, Hiki District, Saitama. Quick update 2022: March 27th – some trees are at about 60%, but overall about 40%. The east side trees are further along than the west side and the South end is in fuller bloom than the Northern end! The rapeseed is blooming beautifully. March 20th – buds on the trees.
Original post 2020:
There are several places you can see cherry blossoms and rapeseed in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. Kumagaya and Gongendo Park in Satte are probably the most famous. And for good reason as the scenery is truly stunning.
But there are also some less known spots where the cherry blossoms are just as mature and they have the beautiful bright yellow harbingers of spring framing the picture. One such spot is the Sakura Tsutsumi (or Zutsumi: the Japanese for a cherry blossom promenade) in Yoshimi Town.
Sakura Tsutsumi Park
Sakura Tsutsumi Park isn’t a park in the typical sense. It is just one dike in the rural area of Yoshimi. It is just under two kilometer longs. There is a cycling course along the top of the levee and a walkway along the west side, fringing the side of the river. The levee is not for the small tributary that runs beside the embankment, but for the Arakawa River which is approximately two kilometers to the east. It was built for flood control.
The walkway is new. They were building it last year when we visited in the autumn to see the beautiful spider lilies that grow in the area, pictured below, which also feature on this blog. (See Red, Orange, Yellow and White Spider lilies here). If you are using the walkway there is one part where you have to cross over a main road, but the cycle course has a bridge over the road. For both the walkway and the cycle course there are a couple of intersections with old country roads that are still used, infrequently, by locals.
Cherry blossoms and rapeseed
Both the cherry blossoms and rapeseed stretch the full length of the new walkway by the river, approximately 1.8 kilometers long. The cherry blossoms and flowers are on the east side and to the west is the river and country landscape.
The top of the embankment, which is used mainly by cyclists, there are cherry blossom flanking each side, creating a beautiful tunnel of sakura. The cycle course is a small section of a 46 kilometer cycle course that connects Akigase Park in Saitama City with Shinrin Park (Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park) in Namegawa town.
The cherry blossoms were planted in 1979 when the embankment walk was created. There are approximately 600 trees in total. The vast majority of them are of the Somei Yoshino variety.
This particular cherry blossom promenade in Yoshimi doesn’t have an annual cherry blossom festival. (There is a promenade by the 100 Caves of Yoshimi that usually has a festival, see here). However, people still enjoy hanami, picnicking under the cherry blossoms, at the Yoshimi Sakura Tsutsumi Park.
This year we visited on March 23rd (2020) and there were only a handful of other people there. The coronavirus outbreak control measures were lifted on March 20th and people have been going about life as normal since Friday. Possibly though, people are still reluctant to go flower viewing. The blooms were at about 70%, but given the warm weather I believe it won’t take them long to come into full bloom. Prime viewing will probably be in a day or two or the weekend by the latest (all else being equal), and I suspect visitor numbers will increase over the coming days.
About a five to six minutes drive from this location, there is a Roadside station, “Ichigo no Sato”, with a lovely playground for small children. There are also a few cherry blossoms there. They sell delicious ice cream too! There is strawberry picking in that area around the roadside station. Yoshimi town is number one for strawberries in Saitama Prefecture!
Sakura Tsutsumi Park Information
|Address:||Iijima Shinden, Yoshimi, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0132|
|Hours:||Open 24 hours|
|Cost:||Free, free parking|
|Online:||Official web page on the Yoshimi Town website|
|JR Takasaki Line Konosu station 5 kilometers away. Access information below.|
The closest train station is over an hour on foot ~ Konosu Station on the JR Takasaki line. You can get a bus to Owada Yoshimi machi bus stop and it is about a 15 minute walk to the flowers.
There are two different car parks you can use. The easiest one is the car park on the Kawajima end of Yoshimi, off route 33, and it is right beside the start of the sakura tunnel and riverside walk. You have to actually drive up onto part of the embankment and then drive down to the car park, as in the photo above. The other (northern) car park, pictured below, is by the Yoshimi water plant. It is about a three minute walk to the embankment.
Southern end car park on map:
Yoshimi public car park on the water plant end:
Other things to do in Yoshimi
- Visit a country designated historic site which is also a World War II airplane manufacturing site. AND home to the leprechauns of the Ainu people “koropokkuru” as well as a national natural treasure, luminous moss, at the 100 caves of Yoshimi.
- Grab a bite to eat in peace while the kids play with the various toys, bikes and garden attractions at Natural Cafe Sora.
- Climb through the love shaped rock behind the rock front wooden temple that was once on a famous pilgrimmage; Iwamuro kannon.
- Take some shots of the photogenic ghibli-esque open garden “Herbal House“.
- View even more cherry blossoms at Hatchoko Park.