Written by Milan
Cherry Blossoms On Children’s Day In Obuse, Nagano
Away from the crowds, Obuse town in northern Nagano offers visitors an intimate yet spacious place to enjoy cherry blossom viewing among cherry, peach and rapeseed flowers set against green fields, blue skies and snow-capped mountains.
Obuse - Enjoy Cherry Blossoms in Late April - Early May!
Obuse, a city located in the mountainous region of Nagano warms up one month later than the Tokyo area. That means that the full bloom is usually from late April to early May, which coincides with Golden Week, a chain of national holidays that starts with Showa Day on April 29th and ends with Children’s Day on May 5th when colourful carp streamers are flown.
This period is when many people travel throughout Japan, making it the busiest time to be on the go, on par with the Obon Holiday in August. But don't worry, this hidden gem of a place isn't crowded so it's still worth your time.
Picnic at Chikumagawa Fureai Park
The stretch of land between Joushin'etsu Highway and Chikuma River is so spacious that you can find a quiet spot where you can have fun with your friends freely.
The days leading up to the congested Golden Week are the best times to go and do as the locals do – enjoy a picnic under the cherry trees. There's plenty of place around for the kids to play all day.
Sitting down by the river of Yagisawa and taking in the views and the fresh air, you'll remember that the greatest artist is nature.
Yellow, Red, Pink and White Blossoms
Not quite the colors of the rainbow but they're just as vibrant. Spring brings in to Obuse a plethora of plants that color the earth. Rapeseed blossoms, or nanohana as the locals call them, are the most glorious example of these flowers which are often overshadowed by the cherry blossoms.
A close relative of brocoli, once the yellow part of the rapeseed flower matures, it turns green and then is commonly harvested for its oil which is rich in vitamin C.
Double the petals, double the beauty - these double petal cherry blossoms with overlapping pale pink petals are known as Yaezakura.
Some people mistake these ornamental peach blossoms for cherry blossoms. They increase the charm of the park’s already breathtaking tapestry.
Can you distinguish the spring flowers of Japan?
Children’s Day in Obuse
Children's Day (May 5th) is a national holiday. Its symbol is the carp. It was chosen for its courage and strength to swim against the rapid stream of life. Likewise, many parents hope for their boys to grow up with the same characteristics.
For weeks leading up to the day, carp streamers (koinobori) are flown everywhere in Japan to honor sons, and in later traditions, all children.
If you visit Obuse at the beginning of May, you'll be able to see this beautiful display of carp streamers soaring into the sky above a field of rapeseed flowers in full bloom.
The carp streamers are flown horizontally rather than vertically. A typical carp pennant set is usually tied to a pole in the order of size and rank within the family. At the very top, there’s a colorful streamer with the family crest, then a black carp streamer representing the head of the Japanese household – the father – then a red one for the mother, then blue, green, purple or orange ones representing the children.
The sizes of the carp streamers range from 1 m to 10 m and they could cost up to 1,000 dollars depending on the material, either nylon or polyester - the latter being the most durable as it can withstand sunlight and rain longer.
If luck is on your side, while in Obuse, you can see Nagano Prefecture’s five northern mountains, known to the locals as Mamikutoi.
Obuse Bridge and the weeping cherry trees by the highway are some of the other highlights of the park. These cherry trees grow to about 5 m tall, which is shorter than the average cherry blossom tree.
To the right, there is a 4 km path lined with about 600 double-fold cherry blossom trees that form a tunnel. They are in full bloom soon as May comes so don't miss this magnificent sight!
Access to Chikumagawa Fureai Park
If you come by train, get off at Obuse Station. The park is only 1.5 km away from the station and it takes only about 15 minutes on foot.
If you come by car, take the Joshin'etsu Expressway and exit at ‘Obuse Smart IC’ using only a car equipped with an ETC card (Electronic Toll Collection). Parking is free at the park.
From Obuse Station, you can also take the bus called Obuse Romango which takes 10 minutes and costs 300 yen for one day. There’s also a free 5-minute Ohanami Shuttle bus that runs between Highway Oasis and the park.
After, you can visit Obuse Park and the Highway Oasis where you can try rock climbing, enjoy shopping for souvenirs, eat at a café or just relax and feel the wind caressing your skin.
Or you could stroll back to the town of Obuse and try the famous local delights.
Enjoy Spring in Obuse!
Come and witness a masterpiece in Chikumagawa Fureai Park during spring. The park is the canvas, the blossoms and the flying carps are the watercolors, nature is the painter and you are the viewer.