a tunnel of yoko sunlight sakura cherry blossoms in Saitama prefecture

Have you heard of Yoko Sakura 陽光桜 or, in English, Sunlight Cherry Blossoms? They were made relatively better known thanks to a movie about their creator in 2015. I say creator, because they are manmade. Cultivated by a school teacher, by crossbreeding the Taiwan and Amagi Yoshino cherries, in memory of his students. His whole class were all drafted to fight in world war II. Not one of them came back. The teacher created these, particularly beautiful, cherry blossoms in their memory. In addition, he sent the seedlings all over the world to promote peace and unity between nations.

Sunlight Sakura

Thanks to the movie “Yoko the Cherry Blossom” there is quite a bit in English online about the history of these breathtaking cherry blossoms. Today, I want to introduce you to a place where you can see these vibrant pink beauties. They look quite like kawazuzakura, but the flower is larger. Moreover, they bloom later than the Kawazu, generally they start just before the Somei Yoshino. They are quite rare in Saitama, at least, there are very few places you can see a tunnel of sunlight sakura. In fact, this location in Honjo City is the only one I personally know of in Saitama.

sunlight sakura cherry blossoms somei yoshino and rapeseed in Honjo

The Sunlight Sakura in Honjo are not belonging to a park. They are actually in an industrial estate. The tunnel of sunlight sakura are just along a footpath in the industrial estate. However, they are along the Onnahori river, where canola flowers grow wild. It is such a beautiful contrast – the dark pink and yellow. Moreover, there are a few somei yoshino too, adding to the hues of color. Even on a rainy day such as today (April 4th 2022). Although, they are not in a park themselves, they are located between two small parks. One of which is right beside them:

Imaidai Kita Park

The Imaidai Kita Park is just North of the trees. The park doesn’t have much in it, just a sports ground “Ikiiki hiroba” and a couple of somei yoshino trees. However, it is useful to park there if you come by car. And there are toilets and even a water drinking fountain in the park. In addition, there is another small park, Imaidai Minami Park, also within walking distance. That (small) park has some beautiful somei yoshino cherry blossoms. You can see Somei Yoshino here and there in the area too.

a tunnel of somei yoshino with a yoko sunlight sakura in the top frame

Honjo Cherry Blossoms

I often say that Kitamoto is one of my favorite places for cherry blossoms, because the city has such a selection. But I think Honjo City is equally deserving of that praise. The whole city seems to burst in shades of white and pink at the end of March into early April. One of the most famous places for cherry blossoms in Honjo City is Senbonzakura Park. There is also beautiful cherry blossoms in Wakaizumi Parks, Honjo Park and in the area around the Honjo Agriculture Tourism Center, to name but a few.

Information

Season: from mid to late March to early April

Address: 1 Chome Imaidai, Honjo, Saitama 367-0038

Phone: none provided and there is no official website either. There is no mention of them on the Honjo Tourism website either, but here is their website.

Hours: 24 hours

Cost: Free

Access

If you are coming from the kanetsu expressway and heading West, you cannot miss them when they are in bloom! They accost you with their stunning vibrant pink flowers. This is how I discovered them!

The nearest train station is a shinkansen (bullet train) station: Honjo Waseda. It is about a 25 minute walk. You can actually see the Shinkansen tracks from the tunnel of Sunlight Sakura. JR Honjo Station is about a 40 minute walk away. Kodama Station on the Hachiko line is too far to walk (about an hour on foot), but relatively close by taxi.

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