When cherry blossom season arrives in Matsumoto everyone heads for the centerpiece of the town. The sight of Japan’s oldest castle tower coupled with her most famous flowers is a sight not to be missed! But hey, this isn’t the only show in town. To catch all of Matsumoto at her most beautiful head for the hills, for views of the fleeting cherry blossoms backed by the majesty of the still-snow-capped mountains. Here are three of our favorite spots.
While “yama” means mountain, Kobo is really just a big hill – yet it’s packed with a whole mountain’s worth of cherry blossoms. Experience what it feels like to walk through an entire forest of sakura as you make your way up the western half of the mountain. At the top you’ll find yourself looking over a thick curtain of cherry blossoms, with the alps rising up in the distance.
By the way, did you know that Kobo-yama is one of the many spots in Matsumoto featured in Orange, the popular manga-turned-movie?
With a wide variety of cherry blossoms spread throughout undulating expanses of grass, Alps Park offers innumerable fresh new angles from which to view and capture the pinks and whites of the season. The park is sprawling enough that in a lot of places the mountains to the west will be completely out of sight – but we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed with what you can see.
For a sneak preview of the Sakura of Alps Park (and a few other places around town) check out this quick video from 2021:
Sitting a bit north of town, Hikarijo takes a bit of effort to reach. But we think it’s worth it! The path up the western slope follows a line of cherry blossoms that cuts through the forests of pine like a pink and white waterfall. The hike from the trail head to the top involves a 300-meter climb, with constant views of the distant alps through the branches of flowers above and all around. At the top are groves of more cherry blossom trees where you’ll probably find more than a few people hanging out and drinking in the season (along with plenty of Asahi beer).
Hikarijo-yama is actually in neighboring Azumino. It is located about a thirty-minute walk from Tazawa Station, just two stops up from Matsumoto Station on the Shinanoi Line.
Heading for the Hills
As the deadpan comedian Steven Wright once said, “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” But even if your time in Matsumoto is not limited, cherry blossom season is. So hop a train for Hikarijo or rent a bicycle for Alps Park and Kobo and get up to those fleeting beauties quick! To make it super easy on yourself, join us for an eBike tour – we’ll take you right to them.
There are plenty of cherry blossoms blooming all over town. But to capture Matsumoto at her most beautiful, get up to where you can see the cherry blossoms and the snow-capped mountains in one perfect shot. You’ll be glad you did!
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