During the short spring of the Tohoku region, spring flowers race to catch up with the already blooming cherry blossoms. Once their petals begin to open they blossom all at once, giving the cherry blossoms a run for their money. This competitive display between the cherry blossoms and other flowers of spring is not to be missed.
In Japan, the most popular spring flowers after sakura are tulips. Tulip bulbs were first made in Japan in Niigata during the Taisho Period. Ever since then, Niigata has become the biggest producer of tulips in the country. From the middle of April until the end of the month, the “Tulip Festival” is held in the city of Gosen. There, 1.5 million brightly blooming tulips create a breathtaking carpet of colours.
One of the 100 best ranked places to view cherry blossoms in Japan is Gosen’s Muramatsu Park. Yaezakura (double cherry blossoms) from the park are carefully handpicked and used to make “Gosen Sakura” hand gel (1,500yen) and hand cream (2,000yen).
The secluded mountainous Aizu area of Fukushima and Niigata, which overlooks the Sea of Japan, is connected by the Agano River. Once long ago, this river was busy transporting goods and materials. Now, with attractions like the Agano River Line Cruise, it has become a popular place of leisure. Nestled near by the river is the Sakihana Onsen, known for its mystical emerald green all natural hot springs. Sakihana Onsen features a wood deck called the Sakihana Kinasetei Kawadoko built right on the river bed. There, under the Hanafubuki (shower of gently falling sakura), you can enjoy the Kasho bento (River-bed box lunch) as you look upon the splendour of the river.
Access: 5min from Sakihana Station (JR Banetsu West Line) by car
Address: Sadori, Gosen-shi, Niigata
Though it may not be a gorgeous flower, there is not another flower that suits the Japanese scenic countryside in spring like the rapeseed flower. When the vibrant yellow of the rapeseed flowers is added to the backdrop of the mountains with melting snow beneath the blue sky and the pink of the sakura, it paints a picture-perfect scene of spring in Japan.
Kawatabi Onsen is one of the hot springs located in Miyagi’s Naruko-onsen-kyo. At the river bed near Kawatabi Onsen you can enjoy a beautiful display of rapeseed flowers and sakura together. Here among the tranquil rural landscape, sit traditional wooden Japanese-style inns. Also, every year near the end of April, the “Osaki Naruko-onsen Rapeseed Flower Festival” is held just as the sakura and rapeseed flowers begin blooming.
Access: 5min from Kawatabi-Onsen Station (JR Rikuu East Line) by car
Address: Naruko Onsen kyo-Kawatabi, Osaki-shi, Miyagi
50 minutes from Tohoku Shinkansen Furukawa Station to Naruko-Onsen Station by Local Line
Niigata / Murakami:
60 minutes from Joetsu Shinkansen Niigata Station