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 listed as one of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots. (Last update: April 8th 2022)
The Kumagaya Cherry Blossom Festival was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 on account of the coronavirus. However, the area was open to the public. Quite a few places have already announced that they won’t have a cherry blossom festival in 2022. When I wrote this post they hadn’t yet made a decision, but on March 11th they confirmed they will go ahead with the festival. It will be on from March 24th to April 6th.
The Kumagaya air base were really early to announce the date for their 2022 cherry blossom festival, so it did look promising even before the Kumagaya City confirmed that the Sakura Tsutsumi would go ahead. But its great to have the confirmation. It won’t be quite like a normal year, but they are planning to have both light up and festival stalls. Ironically, the Kumagaya Air Base Festival was subsequently cancelled.
Kumagaya Sakura Season
The sakura of Kumagaya are well renowned as one of the best places to enjoy “sakura matsuri” (cherry blossom festival) in Saitama. There are about 500 Yoshino cherry blossom trees along 2 kilometers of riverbank. They generally bloom the last week of March and the first week in April. It depends on several things. In 2021, they were forecasted to bloom early and they did. They were open by March 19th 2021.
The first cherry blossom forecast for 2022 predicted that they would bloom almost as early in 2022. They gave a date of March 20th. However, the most recent forecast (March 9th) is now saying March 24th. The predicted date for more than 50% bloom is March 28th and full bloom is expected around April 2nd. In addition, they are expected the blossoms to start falling from the trees around April 6th.
Update March 26th 2022: various weather websites are reporting that the Kumagaya Cherry Blossoms have started to bloom and are at about 14%.
Kumagaya Cherry Blossom Festival
Dates: March 24th to April 6th
Time: 10 am to 9 pm (if there is an extension of the “Covid preventative measures” they will bring that time back an hour to 8 pm).
Light up: from 6 pm to 9 pm (or 8 pm if the “Covid preventative measure” is extended into that period)
Festival stalls: In a ‘normal year’ there is usually about 50 festival stalls on an average day. While they have confirmed that there will be festival stalls this year, they haven’t said how many.
Related events: For example, there is often a hiking event or performances. For many years, the Kumagaya Sakura Yosakoi performed at least once, but they had a note on their website last year, 2021, that the dance troupe has retired.
Entrance Fee: NONE
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 that has yet to be confirmed for this year.