Enjoy Cherry Blossoms in Eastern Japan With the JR EAST PASS in 2022
The JR EAST PASS is a 5-day travel pass that can be used on trains operated by JR EAST, including bullet trains, by international visitors and foreign residents. Read on for details about the JR EAST PASS and the amazing cherry blossom locations in northeastern Japan that you can visit using it!
View Cherry Blossoms in Eastern Japan with the JR EAST PASS!
There are many charming spots to see in eastern and northern Japan. For instance, the Tohoku area boasts historical architecture, gourmet food, festivals, and hot springs. Alternatively, head over to Nagano and Niigata for gorgeous mountains, lakes, and delicious wine.
The areas of Tohoku, Nagano, and Niigata may be associated with winter travel. However, there are several famous cherry blossom locations in these areas! The seasonal blooms in these three areas are spectacular, especially compared to Kyoto, and brimming with their unique charm.
This article introduces breathtaking cherry blossom locations in the Tohoku, Nagano, and Niigata areas. We’ll also cover the JR EAST PASS, an incredibly convenient ticket that can be used when traveling these areas.
Recommended Cherry Blossom Destinations in Tohoku
JR EAST Shinkansen E5 Series. Picture courtesy of JR EAST
The JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) can be purchased by international visitors and foreign residents of Japan. This pass allows you to easily travel around the prefectures of Fukushima, Yamagata, Miyagi, Iwate, Akita, and Aomori.
Below, we'll introduce popular cherry blossom viewing spots in the area.
Hirosaki Park in Aomori: A Must-See! The Most Beautiful Cherry Blossom Spot in Tohoku
Hirosaki Park. Photo by Pixta
The cherry blossom location we highly recommend in Tohoku (northeastern Japan) is Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture.
The view of 2,600 cherry blossom trees of 50 different varieties in full bloom is simply magnificent! The park was is one of Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots and visited by hundreds of international visitors each year.
The Winter Cherry Blossom Illumination is the latest event held at the park. It occurs between December to February, creating a beautiful blizzard of fluttering cherry blossoms as glistening lights shine into trees piled with snow.
Kakunodate Samurai District in Akita: The Spirit of Japan in a Historical Town
Kakunodate Samurai District. Picture courtesy of Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization
The Kakunodate Samurai District in Akita Prefecture was formerly an Edo-period castle town. It was also home to retainers and samurai of the daimyo (feudal lords). This district, lined with traditional Japanese homes, is blanketed in cherry blossoms when spring arrives.
It is a 20-minute walk from Kakunodate Station on the Akita Shinkansen (Tazawako Line) to arrive at Kakunodate Samurai District. As you travel into this town imbued with Japanese spirit, it'll feel as if you've slipped through time upon seeing the weeping cherry trees in bloom.
A nearby spot we’d like to mention is the Hinokinai River Embankment—a two-kilometer embankment with rows of cherry blossom trees. During the cherry blossom season, it transforms into a flower tunnel, allowing sightseers to enjoy a different ambience from that of the Samurai District.
Eboshiyama Park in Yamagata: Indulge in Blooms and Hot Springs
Eboshiyama Park. Picture courtesy of Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization
Eboshiyama Park is accessible on a 20-minute walk from Akayu Station on the Yamagata Shinkansen. The park is widely known as Eboshiyama Senbonzakura and is home to one thousand trees of 25 different varieties that bloom during spring. Some trees are even over 100 years old!
In the afternoon, enjoy a hanami picnic or gaze at the gorgeous scenery of the Okitama Basin. After taking a soak at Akayu Onsen, only a stone's throw away, venture out into the romantic atmosphere of the park at night while admiring the night blossoms.
You can also enjoy the Okitama Sakura Corridor when walking through the neighborhood. The spot isn’t in an area covered by the JR EAST PASS, but is ranked among the top cherry blossom spots in Japan.
Hanamiyama Park in Fukushima: A Shangri-La of Flowers in Bloom
Nicknamed the "Shangri-La of Fukushima," Hanamiyama Park is privately owned. However, it was opened to the public thanks to the owners' passion as horticulturists.
Many colorful flowers, including plum blossoms, Yoshino cherries, and sasanqua, bloom abundantly at Hanamiyama Park in spring. The seasonal beauty is truly unforgettable. From the summit, you'll get a sweeping view of the streets in Fukushima and Mt. Azuma.
The park is about a 10-minute drive from Fukushima Station. During the peak blooming period, shuttle busses are also in operation.
Recommended Cherry Blossom Spots in Nagano and Niigata
JR EAST Shinkansen E7 Series. Picture courtesy of JR EAST
It's common for people to do hanami (cherry blossom viewing) while simultaneously visiting castles. Therefore, we recommend savoring cherry blossoms in full bloom while visiting local castles in Nagano Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture.
Ueda Johseki Park in Nagano: A Match Made in Heaven
Ueda Johseki Park. Photo by Pixta
Ueda Castle has appeared in the NHK historical taiga drama series "Sanada Maru" as well as several anime and video games. It once was the castle of the Sanada clan, a prominent feudal clan that reached the peak of its power during the 16th century. Today, it is one of the famous cherry blossom spots in Nagano.
Thousands of cherry blossom trees are in full bloom in April at Ueda Johseki Park. It’s also where the Ueda Castle Senbonzakura Festival is held. It is easily accessible by a 10-minute walk from Ueda Station on the Shinkansen!
Takada Castle Site Park in Niigata: Top Three Cherry Blossom Night Views
Takada Castle Site Park. Photo by Pixta
Takada Castle Site Park is ranked as one of the Top Three Castle Night Views alongside Osaka Castle and Kochi Castle. It's one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in all of Japan, joining the ranks of Japan's Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots, Japan's Top Three Cherry Blossom Night Views, and even CNN's Five Greatest Flower Blooming Festivals.
During spring, almost 4,000 Somei Yoshino cherry trees go into full bloom around the park. The outer moat also creates a beautiful cherry blossom tunnel. At night, blossoms are reflected onto the water from the illuminations, creating a dreamlike and gorgeous sight.
Purchase Requirements, Validity Period, and Cost
The JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area) and JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) can be used by travelers with a foreign (non-Japanese) passport.
Even if you don't use all five days, you can save enough money to pay for a round trip fare between Tokyo and Sendai or Tokyo and Niigata. This five-day unlimited train pass has the added benefit of being flexible to your travel schedule.
|Features||JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area)||JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area)|
|Purchase Requirement||Travelers with a foreign passport||Travelers with a foreign passport|
|Period||Valid for 5 consecutive days starting on the indicated date||Valid for 5 consecutive days starting on the indicated date|
|Cost||Adults 20,000 yen/Children (6-11) 10,000 yen||Adults 18,000 yen/Children (6-11) 9,000 yen|
|Covered Areas and Precautions||Please refer to the official website||Please refer to the official website|
How to Purchase a JR EAST PASS
The JR EAST PASS can be purchased overseas, at train ticket windows, and through online reservation systems in Japan. After you've purchased your pass, be sure to pick it up at a JR EAST Travel Service Center by presenting your passport.
JR-EAST Train Reservation: Tohoku Area / Nagano, Niigata Area (same link for both passes)
Plan Your Trip Now!
Make traveling a breeze by purchasing a JR EAST PASS, especially if you will be visiting the Tohoku area, Nagano Prefecture, and Niigata Prefecture. With this pass in tow, your next step is simply planning a memorable spring trip to view the cherry blossoms!
*Peak cherry blossom blooming periods will differ each season. Event dates are subject to change, so make sure to check the official website(s) for details.
Main image courtesy of Pixta
Sponsored by East Japan Railway Company
Written by Kayo