Spring time in Japan is synonymous with beautiful cherry blossoms (桜, sakura). Due to the colder climate, Hokkaido is the last prefecture to be graced by the sakura season, usually from around late April to mid May. There are many different cherry trees to be enjoyed in the Niseko area, particularly the dark pink Ezoyama-zakura which are native to Northern Japan. If you have the opportunity to visit Hokkaido next cherry blossom season, we recommend adding the following popular viewing points to your travel itinerary.
Iwanai is a small fishing town around 30 minutes' drive from Niseko. This town is one of the oldest in the region and is definitely worth a visit if you are on the hunt for cherry blossoms. Take Route 5 out of Kutchan and follow the signs to Iwanai where you will find a beautiful Shinto shrine surrounded by cherry trees. Even outside of cherry blossom season, Iwanai provides everything you need for a great family day trip. Enjoy skiing and snowboarding at local Iwanai Resort in winter, and a visit to the sea or local art museum in the warmer months. Find driving directions here.
Driving from Niseko to Iwanai you will see lots of cherry blossom trees along the sides of the road, a perfect place to take pictures is on the Horikkappu River where cherry trees span 400 metres. We highly recommend stopping here on your way to Iwanai Shrine. The path to the river is easily accessible from the road, and you will find parking here.
Cherry blossoms are not just limited to trees, throughout Niseko you can admire pink moss (芝桜, Shibazakura) carpeting the ground. One of the best places by far to see these delicate flowers is Mishima-san’s Shibazakura Garden in Kutchan where they grow in complete abundance. Mishima-san kindly allows visitors to freely explore his garden, which, combined with the scenic backdrop of Mount Yotei is any photographer’s dream. Find the location here.
Take a day trip to Lake Toya on a sunny Spring day and you will not be disappointed. The journey from Niseko is roughly 1 hour, on the way we recommend stopping at the Shikotsu Toya National Park Silo Observation Deck to get a breathtaking view of the whole lake. Then head to Toyako town and walk along the pier which is lined with pale blossoms of the Yoshino Cherry Trees (染井吉野, Somei-Yoshino). On your way back to Niseko, take Route 578 to drive along the lake and you will find more cherry blossoms at Ukimido Park, which is also home to an enchanting vermillion Pagoda dedicated to the legendary regent Prince Shotoku (聖徳太子).
If you are looking for a great place for a picnic and idyllic cherry blossoms, look no further than Fukidashi Park in Kyogoku. Fukidashi means ‘gushing out’ in Japanese and it is easy to see why with the tranquil spring in the background, feel free to bring your own water bottles so you can taste the pure and refreshing water. Find driving directions here.