Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cherry blossom festival

On 23rd April, hubby and I went to Hanami cherry blossom festival in Towada City of Aomori prefecture. Hanami is a traditional Japanese custom of viewing and enjoying the beauty of flowers, usually cherry blossoms (Sakura) or Japanese plum blossoms (Ume). Sakura trees usually bloom from mid April to early May in Aomori prefecture. The cherry blossom season is relatively short and the blossoms last only a week or two. We went to see the cherry blossoms of Kanchogai-dori Street in the heart of Towada City. This street is 36 meters wide, and the Sakura trees lined along the street stretches for 1.1 kilometers. The street is considered to be a symbol of Towada City, and is designated as a street of government office district area due to the fact that Towada City Hall is located adjacent to the street. The street was selected as one of the ‘100 best streets of Japan’ in 1986, and was included in the ‘new one hundred views of Japan’ in 1992. The street is lined with 157 Sakura trees and 168 pine trees, which makes it a focal point for the spring cherry blossom festival. All the Sakura trees are really old and very big. These majestic Sakura trees in full bloom get everyone into the festival spirit during the spring season. Various events are held around the street area during the festival period.


Kanchogai-dori Street and Towada City Hall area are located about 300 kilometers northeast of our home in Yurihonjo City. On 23rd April, we left our home at about 10 am and it took us about 4.5 hours of car ride to reach the central car parking lot located near Towada City Hall area. We parked our car and started walking along Kanchogai-dori Street. We walked along the southern pedestrian boulevard walkway of the 1.1-kilometer-long stretch of the street lined with Sakura trees and pine trees.
Hubby having some snacks while driving towards Towada City


As discussed earlier, there are about 100-year-old 157 Sakura trees and 168 pine trees along either side of the 1.1-kilometer-long stretch of Kanchogai-dori Street. Initially we walked along the southern pedestrian boulevard walkway of the street for about 500 meters towards the west direction. We enjoyed the view of spring all around us and experienced the surrounding scenic beauty. 156 Somei Yoshino variety of Sakura trees were blooming majestically along the walkway. We took a good look at the Sakura trees, which were in full bloom and were absolutely stunning. In addition, we loved the marvelous contrast between the white and pink of the blooming cherry blossoms and the fresh green pine needles. While walking along the walkway, we felt as if we were walking through a tunnel of blooming Sakura on one side and green pine needles on the other side. It was a fantastic experience. Towards the end of the 500 meters walkway we saw a few life-sized bronze statues of horses. These statues named ‘Itsukushimi’ were sculpted by Suzuki Toru in 1990. These statues were sculpted as a mark of respect for the long history the city has of producing outstanding horses. In fact, there used to be an army horse branch located at the side of this Kanchogai-dori Street. After seeing the statues of horses, we walked back along the walkway and again enjoyed viewing the blooming Sakura trees.
Southern pedestrian walkway surrounded by blooming Sakura on one side and green pine needles on the other side

Amazing contrast between the white and pink blooming cherry blossoms and fresh green pine needles

I am walking through a tunnel of blooming Sakura on one side and green pine needles on the other side

Blooming Sakura trees along the walkway

Sakura and I

Sakura, a few bronze statues of horses, and I

‘Itsukushimi’ horses and I

Horse statues are life-sized

Hubby walking back along the 500 meters stretch of the walkway

Beautiful view

I am taking rest and enjoying the views

Blooming Sakura, pine trees, and I

Hubby and Sakura tunnel


Next we deviated from Kanchogai-dori Street and walked towards the south along a plaza named Sakura Hiroba where a huge bronze statue of a horseshoe was located. Usually many exciting events are held at this plaza spot but at that moment people were just relaxing and having a nice time. We continued walking further south and after a couple of minutes we reached a park named Chuo Koen. The park has a huge open green area surrounding which we saw many Sakura trees in full bloom. There are about 150 Sakura trees of Somei Yoshino, Yaebenishidare, Yamazakura, Kanzan, and other varieties in the peripheral area of the park. We moved around inside the park and enjoyed viewing the majestically blooming Sakura trees all around us. We clicked several photos of the Sakura trees for the sake of memories. A lot of street stalls and food stands were opened at the green area of the park for the purpose of the festival. The stalls and stands sold various local foods and beverages. People enjoyed the food while watching the blooming Sakura trees. The food stalls and the people added to the festive atmosphere. We also bought a few food items and drinks from the stalls and enjoyed having them in the festive atmosphere of the park.
I am standing next to a huge bronze statue of a horseshoe at Sakura Hiroba plaza

Entrance area of Chuo Koen Park was brightly decorated for the cherry blossom festival

Blooming Sakura trees lining up the northern end of the park as viewed from the outside

Blooming Sakura on the northern (left portion) end and the eastern (right portion) end of the park as viewed from inside the park

Wonderful view

I am standing inside the park surrounded by blooming Sakura in the background

I am standing inside the park where many food stalls can be seen in the background

Blooming Sakura on the eastern end of the park

Pink Sakura, two kinds of green-leaved trees, and blue sky

I am standing near the southern end of the park with blooming Sakura in the background

Blooming Sakura on the western end of the park along with the food stalls in the foreground

Hubby and I having snacks


After enjoying the snacks at Chuo Koen Park, we returned to Kanchogai-dori Street and crossed the street to reach the pedestrian boulevard walkway on the other side (northern) of the street. And right in front of us we saw Towada City Hall with an observatory located on the fifth floor of the building. On this side of the walkway also many Sakura trees were in full bloom. In addition, the walkway is also lined with pine trees and we loved looking at the contrast of white and pink Sakura flowers and fresh green needles of the pine trees. We strolled along the walkway for some time and enjoyed the wonderful experience. On this side of the walkway, we saw a single Yaebenishidare variety of Sakura tree in full bloom. It was a rather young Sakura tree with pink colored flowers. While walking in front of the City Hall, we saw an interesting artwork where many mirror-polished panel-benches are arranged in such a way that the blooming Sakura trees caused wonderful reflections in the panels. It is a very popular photography spot. After taking a few photographs, we entered inside the City Hall.
Blooming Sakura trees, green pine trees, and the fifth floor observatory of Towada City Hall building

The observatory and blooming Sakura

Northern pedestrian walkway as viewed to our right side

The walkway as viewed to our left side

A relatively young blooming Sakura tree in front of the City Hall building

Hubby along with a gorgeous Sakura tree in full bloom

Blooming Sakura flowers

Enlarged view of the flowers

I am standing in front of Yaebenishidare variety of Sakura tree in full bloom

The pink flowers

Mirror-polished panel-benches with reflections of blooming Sakura trees and I


After entering inside Towada City Hall, we took an elevator to go to the fifth floor observatory. This observatory is open to the public during the spring cherry blossom festival period from 9 am until 8 pm. From the observatory, we got fantastic views of the blooming Sakura trees in and around the City Hall area. We admired the exquisite top view of several rows of Sakura trees in full bloom. It looked as if the city was flooded with a sea of white or pink colored Sakura blossoms. It was an amazing sight to behold. We took several photos of the fantastic views from various positions and angles.
Two rows of blooming Sakura trees on either side of Kanchogai-dori Street as viewed to our left side (east) from the City Hall observatory

Many rows of blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the southeast direction

Many rows of blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the south

Enlarged view of the faraway Sakura trees as viewed towards the south

Many rows of blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the southwest direction

Many rows of blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the west

Enlarged views of the Sakura flowers as viewed towards the west


Afterwards we left the City Hall, crossed back across Kanchogai-dori Street, and returned to the spot along the southern pedestrian boulevard walkway where we had initially started walking. We resumed walking along the walkway but this time we walked towards the opposite east direction for the remaining 600 meters of the 1.1 kilometers of Sakura trees-covered street. The walkway along this direction featured the unusual combination of blooming Sakura trees and large-scale modern art sculptures. This is because the collection of modern art sculptures of the nearby Towada Art Center seemed to spill out onto the street-side. In fact, Towada Art Center as well as the artworks and sculptures along Kanchogai-dori Street are rather new and were constructed in 2008 to bring new life to the city and make it more attractive. Kanchogai-dori Street itself was conceptualized as a museum, and interesting artworks were installed along the street. It was very delightful to stroll along the walkway surrounded by many such modern art sculptures and blooming Sakura trees in the heart of the city. We saw a modern art named ‘Hypnotic Chamber’ sculpted by R&Sie(n), a giant red colored robot ant named ‘aTTA’ sculpted by Tsubaki Noboru (Japanese webpage), a giant ghost sculpted by Inges Idee, a huge gorgeous ‘Flower Horse’ sculpted by Choi Jeonghwa, an Art Hiroba Square named ‘Love Forever, Singing in Towada’ sculpted by Kusama Yayoi, and many more sculptures. The Art Hiroba Square is very popular with children and I had a tough time convincing hubby to stand amongst the cute modern art works for clicking a photo. We also saw a bronze sculpture of a saddle-shaped history information board sculpted by Omori Tatsuro and a bronze statue of a horse’s head sculpted on the top of a stone bollard along the walkway. After enjoying the modern art sculptures, the bronze sculptures, and blooming Sakura, we walked back along the walkway to the car parking lot where we took rest inside our car until it became dark outside.
Hubby standing along the southern pedestrian walkway surrounded by blooming Sakura on one side and green pine needles on the other side

Two majestic Sakura trees in full bloom

Modern art ‘Hypnotic Chamber’ and I

A giant red colored robot ant ‘aTTA’

A giant ghost

A huge ‘Flower Horse’ along with Towada Art Center building in the background

Gorgeous ‘Flower Horse’

Hubby standing along with cute modern art sculptures at Art Hiroba Square

Blooming Sakura trees as viewed from the Art Hiroba Square

Walking back along the walkway towards the car parking area

Bronze sculpture of saddle-shaped history information board

Bronze statue of a horse’s head sculpted on the top of a stone bollard

Amazing Sakura flowers

More Sakura flowers

Green and pink contrast

Hubby napping inside our car


Kanchogai-dori Street and Chuo Koen Park were beautifully lit up during the nighttime. The nighttime illumination is specifically done during the spring cherry blossom festival as well as during the Christmas holidays. We again walked along the southern pedestrian boulevard walkway of Kanchogai-dori Street, and enjoyed the nighttime stroll along the entire 1.1-kilometer-long stretch of the street lined with blooming Sakura trees. Nighttime illumination enabled us to enjoy fantastic views of Sakura flowers blooming against the night sky. It was a majestic experience and it will be ingrained in my memory for ever.
Nighttime view of the southern pedestrian walkway surrounded by blooming Sakura on one side and green pine needles on the other side

Sakura flowers blooming against the night sky

Sakura trees along the walkway

Blooming Sakura flowers

Wonderful effect of nighttime illumination on the flowers

Amazing contrast between the white and pink blooming cherry blossoms and green pine needles in the nighttime illumination

I am walking through a tunnel of blooming Sakura on one side and green pine needles on the other side

Effect of nighttime illumination was so peaceful

Hubby clicking photos

I am posing along the walkway

Sakura and a few bronze statues of horses

‘Itsukushimi’ horses and hubby

‘Itsukushimi’ horses and I

Wonderful sight to behold


Afterwards we once again went to the fifth floor observatory inside Towada City Hall. From the observatory, we got fantastic views of the nighttime illumination of the blooming Sakura trees in and around the City Hall area. We admired the exquisitely lit up top view of several rows of Sakura trees in full bloom. The nighttime illuminated view of the blooming Sakura of nearby Kanchogai-dori Street as well as that of Chuo Koen Park further in the background looked dazzlingly excellent. It was magical and breathtakingly out of this world experience. We took several photos of the fantastic nighttime views from various positions and angles.
Nighttime illuminated blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the southeast direction from the City Hall observatory

Nighttime illumination and many rows of blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the south

Zoomed up view of the beautifully lit up faraway Sakura trees towards the south

Zoomed up view of the beautifully lit up nearby Sakura trees towards the south

Nighttime illumination and many rows of blooming Sakura trees as viewed towards the west


We loved the daytime as well as the nighttime viewing of cherry blossoms of Kanchogai-dori Street and Chuo Koen Park in the heart of Towada City. It was really an amazing experience. Afterwards we left Towada City and drove for about 150 kilometers to reach Morioka City where we stayed at a hotel for the night. The next morning we drove for another 150 kilometers and returned to our home.
Mount Iwate as viewed from our car while driving in Morioka City


8 comments:

Indrani said...

The streets look beautiful. I hope I can visit some day.

Durga Prasad Dash said...

The more I read our blog the more i appreciate the Japanese for their passion to make things beautiful.

Amit Agarwal said...

Amazingly beautiful! Breathtaking..
Thanks a whole lot, Manisha, for this post and lovely pictures:)

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for the comment Indrani. Yes, this street beautiful and is designated as one of the 100 best streets of Japan.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for the comment Durga Prasad Dash. True, Japanese people like beauty and cleanliness very much.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment and appreciation, Amit Agarwal.

Jyotika Rajput said...

Absolutely mesmerising sights... Thanks for sharing... :)

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment Jyotika Rajput.