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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The 2022 Nissai Sakura Festival at Kitaasaba sakura zutsumi was cancelled well in advance, in the autumn of 2021. It was the third year in a row the festival was cancelled. However, as of January 7th 2023 there is no news either way about the festival. Which is hopefully a good sign. But, even in 2020 and 2021 one car park was open even though the festival wasn’t on. Moreover, in 2022 they had the 3 car parks and even parking attendants. People could choose to come at their own risk, but there was no festival and no shuttle bus. There may very well be both in 2023!
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.
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
Phone: Not available
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.