Kodama Senbonzakura

Spectacular views at Kodama Senbonzakura Park where approximately 1100 cherry blossoms line the Koyama River for an (approximate) five kilometer stretch. Information for the 2024 cherry blossom festival (sakura matsuri) as well as the ‘yozakura’, cherry blossom light up, is contained in this post too.

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)!

1100 cherry blossoms along the Koyama River in Honjo Kodama Senbonzakura Park

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 here is usually one of the first to confirm, as they usually set the date after the first cherry blossom forecast. Which was released on January 10th in 2024:

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 when I visited in 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. In 2021, when few other cherry blossom festivals were on, I had the great fortune to attend a cherry blossom festival at Jogaya in Kitamoto, but it is a much smaller affair.

Thankfully when I did visit it wasn’t too crowded. One, because of the pandemic. Two, because it was a festival lite. And thirdly because it was lashing rain! 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!

Currently, the festival is scheduled for Sunday March 31st 2024 from 10 am to 2 pm. They will have food stalls, workshops and stage events such as music and dance performances.

Dekotora

Dekotora decorated trucks at a cherry blossom festival in Kodama Senbonzakura Park Saitama Japan
“Dekotora”

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.

Light up

They normally light up the cherry blossoms at night. They only release the light up information when the cherry blossoms are nearing bloom. Likewise, the end date is judged on the condition of the cherry blossoms. Generally the trees are lit up from, according to Honjo Tourist association, the “end of March to early April”. However, in 2024 as the sakura were late to bloom, the light up didn’t start until April and is still on mid April 2024. The cherry blossoms came into full bloom (70%) around April 8th.

Kodama Senbonzakura Park Information

Season: Very end of March with prime viewing usually early April. In 2024 prime viewing is the second week in April.

Festival: Sunday March 31st 2024. Light up: first weeks of April in 2024. They have tentatively said until April 21st! Update March 18th: the rain took away the remaining cherry blossoms, so the event is now finished.

Time: 10 am to 2 pm. Light up from 6 pm to 8 pm.

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)

Official website

Access

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.

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