Saitama’s best Kawazu zakura spot? Its funny, all these years I thought Saitama didn’t really have a particularly head turning kawazu zakura spot. And then last year, I realized that we do, its just not been marketed very well. I have dozens of books about Saitama – not one has this gem listed. I only heard about it after the season in 2020. So I waited almost a year to see with my own two eyes just how beautiful this under marketed location is. We have all these beautiful nature spots that go unheard of. Maybe the locals prefer it that way. But Mother Nature made these type of scenes for us all to enjoy.
Saitama Kawazu zakura
There are several places to see ‘nice’ kawazu zakura in Saitama. They mightn’t win any scenery awards, but the trees are beautiful. There are several places I think are stunning, for example this secret spot in Fukaya, but it is not a tourist destination as such. Others that are large scale and look particularly beautiful when they bloom are Sumiyoshi (Sakado) and Rakusato no Kai Okegawa. But the problem is the kawazu at both those locations don’t bloom every year. For example, the ones at Sumiyoshi in Sakado only tend to bloom once every four years! Sakado also has another variety of early blooming cherry blossoms called Kanzakura. They do bloom annually, a little later than the kawazu zakura.
Washinomiya Kawazu Zakura
The heavenly cherry blossoms in this post are in the Washinomiya area of Kuki City, Saitama Prefecture. Beside Washinomiya Shrine of anime Lucky Star fame (circled green in the map photo in access). They could win a scenery award! They bloom along the Aogebori River¹ from the end of February to early March. Starting from Washinomiya Shrine the Kuki Kawazuzakura stretch for about two and a half kilometers south to the Tohoku train tracks in the Koguki area. There are approximately 335 trees along the 2.5 kilometers. The best time to see them in 2021 is the end of the first week of March. Thankfully Kuki City post updates about the bloom, so you can check the prime viewing period live annually:
2022 Information (in Japanese) on the Kuki City Official website. The Kawazu zakura were unfortunately late to bloom all around Saitama Prefecture this year. They finally opened the second week of March. The featured photo of this post was taken on Friday 11th of March 2022. They were at about 90% bloom at that point. As of March 16th they are still blooming, but probably only have a couple of days left before they turn green.
¹Aogebori River is also called Aogehori River. There is very little in English online about “Aogebori” or “Washinomiya” early blooming cherry blossoms. However, if you are looking for stock photos you can find some by searching Aoi Horikawa cherry blossoms!! Automatic translation at its finest!
- Miyamae Bridge – shown as a black line in the map photo in access section
- Washinomiya Water Pipe – shown as a pink line in the map in access
There are areas where they bloom with rapeseed. In 2021, the rapeseed was to late to bloom in Saitama, but in 2022 they were blooming beautifully at the same time as the kawazu. I also found quite a few daffodil on the walk. Please note that the North end of the walk there are barriers so you can’t go down on the embankment to take photos. However, further south there is an area without barriers. Its just by the water pipe too, so you can get a pretty photo from down on the riverside.
Take a look at the tag “青毛堀川の河津桜” on Instagram to see how pretty the sakura are in full bloom. Of the various kawazuzakura spots I’ve been to in Saitama, I think this one is probably the most photogenic. Moreover, it is a very nice walk. However, you can only really walk along the East side of the river as the West side is not pedestrianized.
The nearest station is Washinomiya Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line, circled purple in the above photo. It takes about an hour from Ikebukuro, with a transfer at Kuki Station. You can enjoy the beautiful sight of the cherry blossoms soon after alighting at the East exit, as the sakura walk is close to the station. The Higashi-Washinomiya Station on the Tohoku Main Line is also relatively near to the south end of the cherry blossoms. It is circled in yellow in the above photo. As you can see, you could alight at one station and board at the other!
By car: the nearest interchange is “Kuki” on the Tohoku Expressway. The problem is parking. I noticed a free car park on route 410. It said it was free for anyone shopping in the area, but please do read the signs yourself. And park at your own risk. I did not use this car park myself as I had permission to use a car space at a place where I was shopping. To be honest, I would have been most comfortable using coin parking, but I couldn’t find any nearby.