Jomine Park in the unassuming Kamikawa Town in the North of Saitama is one of Japan’s most famous winter cherry blossoms spots. Moreover, it is one of only a handful of places in Japan where you can see red maple leaves and cherry blossoms at the same time. Normally, the town has an annual winter cherry blossom festival “Fuyuzakura Matsuri” from mid October to early December. However, the town announced at the end of September 2021 that there will be no festival in 2021. There was no festival in 2020 either, but they did light up the autumn leaves and the fuyu sakura, winter cherry blossoms, at night. There is no mention of light up in 2021 yet.
However, even without the light up or festival, the trees will bloom and the leaves will change color. And once again, Jomine Park, Kamikawa in the Kodama district of Saitama Prefecture will be one of the most colorful places in all of Japan from mid October to early December. Moreover, as Jomine Park has a campsite, you can enjoy a particularly scenic camping experience here until the end of November. In 2020 they even extended the season, who knows they might do the same again in 2021.
Winter cherry blossom trees
Jomine Park’s winter cherry blossoms are one of the three great winter cherry blossom spots in all of Japan. The other two are Sakurayama Park in Fujioka City (Gunma) as well as the four seasons cherry blossoms in Obara in Toyama City (Aichi). Sakurayama Park is only a short drive from Jyomine Park, making the area an ideal location for winter cherry blossom viewing.
There are approximately 600 cherry blossom trees in Jomine Park. They are double flowered of the “October cherry blossom” variety or Jyugatsu sakura in Japanese. As you can probably guess, they are called such because they start blooming in October! Usually mid October. Lucky for us, unlike their spring counterparts, they normally bloom for at least a month, normally longer. Actually, these particular type of rare cherry blossoms have a very different blooming pattern than those you see in spring. They cyclically bloom and fall and bloom again for weeks on end. Therefore you can see them in Jomine Park normally until early to mid December.
There are walkways between the trees and even raised dais to facilitate easy viewing and the opportunity to get that picture perfect photo!
With Autumn leaves
Prime viewing is mid-November because not only will the cherry blossoms be in full bloom, but the autumn leaves will also be at their prime. This is one of only a handful of places in Japan that you can see winter sakura and red maple leaves at the same time. Moreover, they are lit up at night as part of the festival…
Winter Cherry Blossom Festival
Normally the festival takes place from around October 23rd to the end of the first week of December. Last year, 2020, there was only light up for the festival and in 2019 the festival was cancelled just as it started due to damage sustained in the area from typhoon Hagibis.
In a “normal” year the cherry blossoms and the autumn leaves are lit up from dusk until 9 pm. There is normally live performances scheduled and festival stalls. Also, there are two eateries in the park that open late for the occasion. However, as they didn’t open in 2020, it is unlikely they will open in 2021.
Visiting during the pandemic
At the moment, they are saying it is okay to come and view the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. They request you wear a mask and uphold social distancing. The website said that there will be temperature checks at the gate. However, when we visited in 2020 we didn’t see this and we didn’t have our temperatures checked. The website also says that they require you to sterilize your hands. There is hand sanitizer out, but as far as I can tell they were not enforcing use. More about our 2020 visit here.
In the area
- The haunted dam
- A very special shrine – 1 of only 3 in all of Japan
- A fishing restaurant
- The naked men festival!
There is a train station in Kamikawa “Tansho Station” but there doesn’t seem to be a bus to the park from that station. You can get a bus from Honjo station though. From Honjo station get the bus bound for Jomine park 「城峯公園方面バス」. It takes about 45 minutes.
By car – there is plenty of parking, but please note during the prime viewing period it is not unusual to have to wait to get a coveted parking spot! Also, please note – sometimes the roads are suddenly closed due to inclement conditions. Always check with the official site for the most up to date information, especially after a natural disaster such as a typhoon or earthquake.