Kitaasaba Kanzakura 2022

Information for the Nissai Sakura Matsuri and the Early blooming Kanzakura Cherry Blossoms, just North of Tokyo, at the Kitaasaba Sakura Zutsumi cherry blossom promenade in Sakado City

Kitaasaba Sakura Zutsumi

Kanzakura at the Kitaasaba Sakura Tsutsumi in Nissai Sakado
In the rain in 2022

Less than 50 kilometers north west of Tokyo you can walk under this 1.2 kilometer avenue or ‘tunnel’ of approximately 200 beautiful kanzakura, in Sakado city. As early as the start of March. It takes less than an hour by car and just over an hour by public transport to the Kita Asaba Sakura Embankment. Not to be confused with the early blooming kawazuzakura in Sumiyoshi in Sakado! The latter bloom even earlier than the Kanzakura.

Kanzakura

There are over 100 varieties of cherry blossom trees in Japan. Yamazakura cherry blossoms are native to Japan. But the vast majority of cherry blossoms in Japan have been intentionally cultivated in gardens and parks. The most commonly known are the Somei Yoshino that typically bloom the end of March to the start of April. Kanzakura can bloom as early as mid to late February. In Sakado, just North of Tokyo, they tend to bloom from early to mid March. That is, about two weeks before the Somei Yoshino variety.

early blooming cherry blossom mid march sakura in sakado saitama
1st Sakura Hanami of 2019 in Sakado, Saitama

The earlier blooming varieties of sakura include Kanzakura and Kawazuzakura. However, the Kawazu Sakura are probably the best known with oversea visitors. The cherry blossom festival in the eponymous Kawazu Town has put them on the global map. Sakado also has the Kawazu variety in another part of town.

Sakado Kanzakura

The Kanzakura in Sakado are in area called Nissai, hence the festival is called the Nissai Sakura Matsuri (Nissai Cherry Blossom festival). However, the cherry blossom ‘park’ is called Kitaasaba Sakura Zutsumi. There are approximately 200 kanzakura in this 1.2 kilometer avenue of cherries. They create a beautiful lush tunnel of pink in season, which is generally around mid March.

early march sakura in sakado kita asaba
Taken on February 18th 2020 at Kita Asaba Sakura Tsutsumi

In 2020 the blooms were early. With some popping through as early as mid February. The blossoms were in full bloom by March 6th 2020. Last year, 2021, it was more like an “average” year, so the full bloom was around March 15th. Its still a bit too early to tell for 2022 and Mother Nature can often surprise us. As of March 4th 2022 they’re pretty much bare, except for one or two blossoms here and there. They were late to start, but they caught up. On March 18th 2022 they are almost full bloom, so this long bank holiday weekend (March 19th to 21st) is the perfect time to see them.

On one day during the blooming period this cherry blossom park has a festival called the Nissai Sakura Festival. For that day there is live entertainment and food stalls. However, in 2022, for the third year in a row, the festival isn’t on (see next paragraph). But even when the festival isn’t on, you can hanami under the trees. Furthermore, there are benches you can use for free and people bring their own picnic mats too.

Nissai Sakado Sakura Festival

Nissai Sakado Sakura festival early blooming sakura cherry blossoms

The 2022 Nissai Sakura Festival at Kitaasaba sakura zutsumi has already been cancelled. It was announced in the autumn of 2021. This is the third year in a row the festival has been cancelled. However, one car park was open in both 2020 and 2021 even though the festival wasn’t on. And this year they have 3 car parks and even parking attendants. People can choose to come at their own risk, there will just be no festival and no shuttle bus.

early blooming sakura cherry blossoms at Kita Asaba cherry blossom embankment in Nissai Sakado

The Nissai Sakado cherry blossom festival is generally in and around the 10th of March. However, in 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to the coronavirus the festival was cancelled. In both 2020 and 2021 the car park was open, but the shuttle bus was cancelled. The toilets by the car park were also open to the public. There is a vending machine near the car park too. Other than that: just 1.2 kilometres of sakura trees creating a beautiful arched walkway, along an embankment of the Oppe River in a rural area of Sakado.

Japanese Bulbul in a cherry blossom tree
Japanese Bulbul in a kanzakura cherry blossom tree at the Kita Asaba Sakura Embankment, Sakado, Saitama Prefecture

Nissai Sakura Festival / Kita Asaba Sakura embankment information

Hours: The area is an open public space and as such you can access it at anytime, but there is no lighting along the embankment and / or the avenue of sakura. The parking lot is manned between 9 am and 5 pm on the weekends.

Cost: Free and parking is free too.

Address: 149 Kitaasaba, Sakado-shi, Saitama-ken 350-0266 (Map and access below the event link)

Phone: Not available

Official Sakado City Website

Access

During the course of the main blooming period there is a free shuttle bus from Kita Sakado station. Kita Sakado station is on the Tobu Tojo line. The bus runs on weekends and public holidays. The shuttle bus maybe cancelled on account of the Coronavirus. There is usually one bus every 40 minutes. They run from 8.30 am to 4.10 pm (from the station the last bus is 3.10 pm). It takes about 10 minutes on the bus from the station.

By car it is about 5 minutes from the Sakado Nishi SMART interchange. You have to have an ETC card in your car to use a SMART interchange. There is parking for up to 300 cars. If you come by car you have to follow the signs to the parking lot. They forbid public traffic accessing the small streets that run along the side of the embankment. The parking is free.

In the area

Normally they wouldn’t bloom at the same time, but in 2021 the cherry blossoms at Oshamoji Yama Park were in bloom for a few days that the kanzakura were. Oshamoji Yama Park is only worth a quick visit. It is just a five minute drive from Kitaasaba.

Strawberry picking

6 Comments

  1. Hello,
    So all of the sakura festival including kawazu festival has been cancelled due to corona virus? during this corona virus outbreak, is there any safer place to enjoy early sakura bloom in Japan? Thanks you

    1. Author

      Hi, thank you for your query. We’re still waiting for confirmation from many locations. But even though some festivals have been cancelled you can still visit the locations and do hanami there. At your own risk of course. It is likely, but not guaranteed, that locations will be less busy than usual so a little bit safer. It is still early days so there are likely to be changes, but hopefully we can confirm everything closer to the time.

      1. Thank you for your helpfull information, we are from Indonesia, actually plan to visit kawazu for the festival on March 8, hope the outbreak will be over soon and won’t continue spread widely.

        1. Hi! I am not sure if you’ve seen all the updates in the past 24 hours, but there has been a dramatic change; basically almost all events and even museums and attractions are shutting down for the next two weeks. ;-( Schools finished up three weeks early (today) for spring break. Disney, Universal Studios, Ghibli, TeamLab Borderless and Planets among hundreds of locations have announced they are closing for around two weeks. You may need to check with your airline if they are still planning on flying to Japan and also checking any bookings you have made here to see if they are still okay. The very best of luck to you. I am very sorry that your trip will be very different than what you planned.

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