Spectacular views at Kodama Senbonzakura Park where approximately 1100 cherry blossoms line the Koyama River for an (approximate) five kilometer stretch.
Kodama Senbonzakura Park
Senbonzakura means “a thousand cherry blossoms” in English. Sen means “a thousand”, bon is a counter – in this case for trees. And zakura is how sakura, as in the Japanese for cherry blossoms, is spelt and pronounced when contracted with another word in front. The term is frequently used and it even is the name of a famous song. There is a beautiful English version of the song Senbonzakura. Check it out on Youtube (I have no affiliation to this song / site / singer)!
At Kodama Senbonzakura park there are about 1100 cherry blossoms. They line either side of the Koyama River in Honjo City, Northern Saitama, for about five kilometers. It is one of Saitama’s largest displays of the Somei Yoshino variety of cherry blossoms. But with 8000 cherry blossoms, Minoyama is even larger. Moreover, ironically Saitama’s capital and most populous city, Saitama City, is home to the longest line of sakura in all of Japan. There is also at least one other park in Saitama with Senbonzakura in the name, “the Senbonzakura of Mt Torayama“. It is one of my personal favorites. With nearly 2000 cherry blossoms, it could be called “nisenbonzakura”!
Generally, the best time to see the Kodama Senbonzakura is early April. They usually start to bloom at least a few days to a week later than Omiya Park. No guarantees of course; so many things influence the bloom, not least the weather. (Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the weather!! XD) The cherry blossom festival is usually scheduled in line with their average bloom period:
Cherry Blossom Festival
I actually would normally time a visit to a famous cherry blossom spot such as Kodama Senbonzakura to avoid the festival and thus the crowds. However, I didn’t realize the festival was on this year (2022) and ended up visiting right when it was on. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it really was so lovely to attend a large scale cherry blossom festival for the first time in three years. Last year (2021), I had the great fortune to attend a cherry blossom festival at Jogaya in Kitamoto, but that is a much smaller affair. It was one of the only cherry blossom festivals on in 2021.
Thankfully as it was lashing rain yesterday, it wasn’t too crowded. Furthermore, it was a festival “lite” with few of the additional events they had before the pandemic. Thus, I could enjoy the festival atmosphere without the throngs of people. Don’t get me wrong – there was a LOT of people, but not as many as “normal”. Koyama Senbonzakura gets crowded, despite the wide promenades and vast area, during the height of the sakura season. As it turned out, contrary to what I believed, it was very refreshing to attend this large scale festival! And then when I went on to Wakaizumi Park where they were having a festival too!!
In 2023, the festival will only be on for one day – Sunday April 2nd 2023 from 10 am to 2 pm. They will have food stalls, workshops and stage events such as music and dance performances. Hopefully, the “dekotora” will be back again. Dekotora is a contraction of Decoration Truck; you can see why in the photo above! They are usually a regular fixture of the festival. They are usually displayed near the main festival reception area, almost at the half way mark of the five kilometer walk.
They normally light up the cherry blossoms at night, but there is no information for light up in 2022 on the official Honjo Tourism Website. However, they had the information up last year, 2021. They were lit up nightly until April 11th. According to Walkerplus there was light up in 2022. Several of the municipalities in Saitama Prefecture use Walkerplus as their official site for cherry blossom information. Including Honjo City. So if Walkerplus says there is light up, there is light up! And according to Walkerplus there will be light up in 2023. They just haven’t released exact dates, just “end of March to early April”.
Kodama Senbonzakura Park Information
Season: Early April
Festival: Sunday April 2nd.
Time: 10 am to 2 pm.
Light up: Generally late March to around April 10th.
Cost: free and free parking
Address: Waterfront of Koyama River, Kodama-cho, Honjo-shi, Saitama Prefecture 〒367-0212
Phone: 0495-72-1334 (Weekdays), 0495-72-1331 (Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays)
The park is about a twenty minute walk from JR Kodama Station. By car: the nearest interchange is the Honjo Kodama Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway (don’t miss this special “sunlight sakura” display at the interchange!). The map below is to one of the free parking areas.
that’s sure a lot of sakura!