The main torii to Hodosan shrine with cherry blossoms at the Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival

Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms – Nagatoro is easily one of Saitama’s most beautiful locations. Thus it enjoys tourists all year round due to the abundance of stunning natural scenery. Spring is no exception when thousands flock to see the famous cherry blossoms in full bloom. Until 2019 the Nagatoro Cherry Blossom overlapped with the Nagatoro Wisteria festival. Unfortunately, the Iwadatami (river area of Nagatoro) was very badly damaged during typhoon Hagibis in Autumn 2019 and some of the wild wisteria was lost. They haven’t had a wisteria festival since.

Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms

Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival
Map of cherry blossom locations in Nagatoro

The Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the most popular sakura matsuri in the whole of Saitama. And its one of my personal favorites. Moreover, the cherry blossoms are one of the official top 100 scenic sakura spots in all of Japan. It is also one of the longest, stretching from the end of March to the end of April, even early May some years. However, in 2024 the cherry blossoms are expected to start blooming early and will probably be finished long before Golden Week this year. The festival will be on from Wednesday March 20th to April 21st.

There are approximately 3000 cherry blossom trees in different locations throughout Nagatoro with two key areas of sakura lined tunnels. Kita Sakura Street and Minami Sakura street both have cherry blossom tunnels. Moreover, around Hodosan you can see quaint tree lined lanes and around Hodosan Shrine there are 30 different kinds of cherry blossoms creating an explosion of pink during prime viewing.

Furthermore, the Nagatoro cherry blossoms are one of just three cherry blossom locations in Saitama that are listed in Japan’s top 100 places to see sakura in Japan. Nagatoro Tourist Association recommend April as the best time to see the sakura in the area. Moreover, some of the cherry blossoms (three locations) are lit up at night during prime viewing for a stunning night view. I have split the sakura into three groups by period of bloom. First up, cherries that bloom at the end of March in Nagatoro:

End of March Blooms

Hozenji Temple

The two weeping cherry blossoms of Hozenji or Hozen Temple typically bloom around the end of March. They are designated as natural monuments of Nagatoro town. Both are estimated to be around 100 years old.

Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival
From Nagatoro Town website.

Hozenji on Google Maps

Iwada Sakura

The stand alone Iwada Sakura tree. It is further out than the rest. The closest station is Higuchi Station. It is opposite Dokoji Temple. The Iwada Sakura typically blooms end of March. In 2024 it will be lit up from March 20th to 31st, earlier than an average year as they are expected to bloom early.

Iwada sakura tree in Nagatoro
From the official site
Iwada cherry blossom lit up at night

On Google Maps

EARLY APRIL CHERRY BLOSSOMS

The second group which bloom from early April includes the tunnel of cherry blossom trees on Kita sakura (Kitazakura) street. The cherry blossoms in this area are particularly well renowned. You can drive through them or walk under them. The area is very busy during the season. They typically bloom early April;

Kita Sakura Street

kita sakura street avenue of cherry blossoms in Nagatoro
Kita sakura street cherry blossoms lit up
Kita sakura street cherry blossoms lit up

The tunnel of cherry blossom trees on Kita Sakura (Kitazakura) street are particularly renowned. You can drive through them or also walk under them. However, the area is very busy during the season. Which for this particular stretch of cherry blossoms is early April. The night light up in 2024 on Kita Sakura Dori will be from March 23rd to April 7th.

Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms

The road stretches for over 2 kilometers from near Nagatoro Station down to Takasago bridge which is close to Nogami station.

Nagatoro Autocamp Nagatoro cherry blossoms Kita sakura street
Nagatoro Line Kudari boat ride down the river passing Nagatoro Autocamp with children playing in the river

Furthermore, the road runs parallel to the Arakawa river where you can see river boats ferrying tourists downstream. Along the route there is a picturesque foot bridge that leads to the excellent Nagatoro Autocamp. Moreover, the street is quite picturesque even when the cherry blossoms are not in bloom. There is some impressive architecture along the route too.

Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms
Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms
Bridge to Nagatoro Autocamp

Minami Sakura Dori

Minami Sakura street is another of the popular places to view a tunnel of cherry blossoms. There are about 200 cherry blossoms stretching approximately 1.5 kilometers. They bloom from early to mid April. The street runs from Kami-nagatoro station and merges into Kitazakura Street. In addition, the Saitama Prefectural Museum of Nature is along the route.

On Google Maps

Avenue of Hodosan Shrine

The Hodosan shrine is worth a visit anytime of the year. But with the sakura its as majestic as it is mystical. The cherry blossoms as you approach Hodosan shrine generally bloom from around early to mid April:

The main torii to Hodosan shrine with cherry blossoms at the Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival
©insaitama.com 2023 Cherry blossom season

Moreover, there is a ropeway at the back of Hodosan shrine, up a mountain path, that brings you to the top of Hodosan:

MID TO LATE APRIL CHERRY BLOSSOMS

The third and last group is the mid to late cherry blossoms. There is one main location for this group – at the foot of Mt Hodo. This area is known as the “Sakura Tree Lined Pathway”. the cherry blossoms here typically bloom from mid to late April.

Torinuke no Sakura

The Sakura lined foot path at the bottom of Hodo-san, south of the Hodosan ropeway. There are approximately 500 trees of 31 different varieties. However, this grove has a cover charge – a 200 yen entrance fee for adults, 100 yen for children. It is open from 10 am to 9 pm during the period of the light up. Please note, that the car park is no longer free at night. They will start charging from this year. They haven’t said how much yet.

The cherry blossoms here bloom from the middle to end of April. In addition, during the bloom period they normally have a light up event. It was one of the light ups cancelled during the pandemic, but it came back last year. This year it will be lit up from April 6th to 21st, which is earlier than an average year.

From the official website

Hana no Sato

Hana No Sato which bloom around mid April :


Nagatoro Cherry Blossom Festival Information Summary 2024

The festival is on from Wednesday March 20th to April 21st. The night light up:

  • Iwada area usually from the end of March to early April, but in 2024 it will be on from March 20th to March 31st as the cherry blossoms are expected to be early.
  • Kita Sakura Street from very end of March to mid April. In 2024 the dates are currently set for March 23rd to April 7th, but the dates may change closer to the time depending on the condition of the cherry blossoms.
  • Torinuke no Sakura is usually lit up from mid to late April. However, again due to the expected early bloom of the cherry blossoms, the light up dates have been set as from April 6th to 21st.
  • After the cherry blossom festival is finished Nagatoro will have another light up event. This time of ‘green leaves’. It hasn’t been on since the pandemic, but it will be on in 2024 (from May 1st) for the first time in five years. More information here.

Getting around

Nagatoro Tuktuk and cherry blossoms
©insaitama.com 2023 Cherry blossom season

The cherry blossoms in Nagatoro are over a large geographic area. However, they came up with a fun way to get around the cherry blossom locations. You can usually hire a “mobitoro” (for 1500 yen per hour) during the cherry blossom season. You can also rent a bike. Or my favourite – order a tuktuk!

Nagatoro Cherry Blossoms Access

Nagatoro is accessible on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line or by using the Chichibu Railway. There are a couple of stations where you can alight. But probably the most central is Nagatoro station. Nagatoro Station is on the Chichibu Tetsudo and Steam Locomotive Paleo Express lines. Moreover, it is only about 2 hours from central Tokyo. However, if you are taking the steam locomotive it does take considerably longer.  The main connecting stations to get the Chichibu Tetsudo line are Hanyu station on the Tobu Isesaki Line, Kumagaya Station on the Joetsu Shinkansen / JR Takasaki lines, Yorii station on the Tobu Tojo / JR Hachiko lines and Ohanabatake station on the Seibu Chichibu line.

More on the Paleo Express:

Editor’s note: In Nagatoro 2020 was the only year they cancelled the sakura matsuri due to the pandemic. And that was only because there was a State of Emergency in the prefecture. It is one of very few festivals that didn’t hold back on account of the pandemic!

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