Sunday, May 5, 2019

Searching for Cherry Blossoms in Hiraizumi, Japan

The end of the cherry blossom 'season' depends on the weather and the part of Japan you visit.

On Japan-Guide.com:   Hanami literally means “watching blossoms,” and a major event throughout Japan.   There is a web site that follows the progress of the blooms from the south to the northern regions.  This is a festival time that locals will spend time admiring the blossoms and walking beneath the trees.  




I had an image in my mind that there would be a forest of flowering trees and pedals falling like snow.    There are parts of Japan that have this, but by a warm April the peak blossom locations had moved north.


The amazing staff at the central Tokyo train station, who I visited multiple times, gave me some suggestions where I would find Cherry Blossoms in April.   They suggested I travel North.  Since I wished to avoid any towns that would require a bus (no signs on buses in more remote cities) I decided to visit a small town north of Sendai,       Hiraizumi is an additional train ride with a short transfer via local train.  The travel office in Sendai gave me the time schedule and information on where to change trains.   Again I was the only non local on any of the trains.  The short commuter train ride was filled with students returning from school.    Again, I was the only 'tourist'.



Hiraizumi:   The train station is located on one of the main streets and a short walk to the start of what I call, the avenue of Cherry Blossoms.   There is a tourist office in the station and the staff tried to answer my questions.   One staff member hurried out of the office after a quick discussion with her co worker.
Shortly after her departure,  I turned to greet the new arrival.   To say I was surprised is an understatement.    Sam Sloan works in the city and is often called to the station to help English speakers.


Thank you for all your assistance.  





Sam is from Alaska and was kind to answer my questions on how did you find this town and what is it like living here.  

With my map and directions I set off to walk the avenue lined with Cherry Blossoms.




The path starts at a steep incline that did not deter the experienced climbers.   There are many interesting places to stop as well as overlooks so you can pace yourself to the top.






There is a large, modern  museum on the route.  Unfortunately everything was described  in Japanese.  There were ancient pieces of art, scrolls etc.   Small and larger building are along the path.  You can visit shrines, obtain a fortune and leave it on a special rack if you decide it is not an auspicious fortune.



Climbing the path to the Konjikido is a lovely hike, steep in some areas with several interesting buildings to visit.   the Konjikido is a hall completely covered in gold. It dates back to 1124 and stands inside another building for protection. Photography of the Konjikido is prohibited so there are no photos of the gold temple.   The following photos are from the Visit Japan web site.


The path is not always smooth

There was far more to see that my limited time did not allow me to experience while in Hiraizumi.     Returning to Japan may always offer new experiences.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019