Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a key piece of spring time in Japan. People spend all winter looking forward to the trees having beautiful pink blossoms that fall to the ground like snow. In addition, the warmer weather makes picnics and walks in the park possible. It is truly a magical time. While places such as Ueno Park get a lot of attention for their cherry blossoms, there is a small town in Akita prefecture known for being one of the best places for cherry blossoms. In addition, since Akita is farther north than Tokyo, the peak viewing time is delayed a week or two.
There are two areas in Kakunodate for viewing sakura, both within short walking distance from the station. The first place is along a street famous for its samurai houses. This street is lined with weeping willow-style sakura that are even more beautiful in the fall. While on this street, you can see and tour the samurai houses and buy souvenirs.
After you have thoroughly enjoyed the samurai district, make your way towards the Hinokinai river for a magical sakura experience. Here, cherry blossom trees line the river bank for about 2km, and you can walk through the tunnel that they make. On a clear day the mountain range across the river makes for stunning pictures, and you will see many professional photographers there trying to capture the immense beauty.
Getting to Kakunodate is easy. If you are coming from Tokyo, Kakunodate can be easily accessed via the Akita Shinkansen, and Kakunodate Station is only a 10 minute walk from the action. If you drive, there is parking for 500-1000 yen. During Golden Week, when the blossoms are at their peak, it will be very crowded and parking is at a premium. If you can, it is recommended to go early in the morning for the smallest crowds.
Please visit Kakunodate and see just a sample of what Akita prefecture has to offer. You will be glad you came!