The Kumagaya Cherry Blossoms with rapeseed flowers along the riverbank is one of Saitama’s famous images. Furthermore, the cherry blossoms there have been celebrated since the Edo period. Moreover, the area is one of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots. In addition, the Kumagaya Cherry Blossoms are home to Saitama’s “index tree”. They use the tree as the signature / benchmark for the start of the sakura season in Saitama Prefecture.
Kumagaya Sakura Season
The sakura of Kumagaya are well known as one of the best places to enjoy “sakura matsuri” (cherry blossom festival) in Saitama. As such, the place can become very crowded. There are about 500 Yoshino cherry blossom trees along 2 kilometers of riverbank. Moreover, bright yellow rapeseed or canola flower fringe the sakura for part of the course. The cherry blossoms generally bloom the last week of March and the first week in April. It depends on several things:
The current cherry blossom forecast for 2024 is predicting that they Kumagaya cherry blossoms will start to bloom almost in line with an average year. They are currently saying the cherry blossoms will open on March 25th. They predict that the sakura will be at about 50% bloom on March 28th / 29th and full bloom around April 2nd. Finally, they are expecting the blossoms to start falling from the trees around April 7th. Of course, all of this can and will be effected by weather patterns between now and then.
Kumagaya Sakura Matsuri
The Kumagaya Cherry Blossom Festival was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021, but it went ahead in both 2022 and 2023. However, the dates of the festival were changed last minute due to the condition of the flowers. This is quite common, so its always best to check the official website for the most recent information. During the period of the festival there are festival lanterns up, festival stalls and the trees are lit up at night. Moreover, in 2024 they will have hot air balloon ride on a select date that will be announced nearer the time.
Event: Kumagaya Cherry Blossom Festival 2024 令和6年熊谷さくら祭
Dates: from Friday March 22nd to Thursday April 4th 2024.
Time: 10 am to 9 pm
Light up: from 6 pm to 9 pm.
Festival stalls: there is usually about 50 festival stalls on an average day and more on the peak weekends.
Related events: For example, there is often a hiking event and live performances. For many years, the Kumagaya Sakura Yosakoi performed at least once, but I’m sorry to report that the dance troupe retired in 2021.
Cost: there is no admission fee, bring some yennie for the festival stalls!
Access: By train it is close to both the JR Kumagaya and Chichibu Railway stations. By car it is about 30 minute drive from the Higashimatsuyama Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway.
Parking: It is advised to come by public transport, but there is a temporary car park. In previous years it has been free, but in 2023 they charged on specific dates. It is yet to be announced for 2024 if there will be a charge on the main weekends or not.
Official event page which has not yet been updated for 2024, but the tourism website released the information available so far.