Nagano’s Top Cherry Blossom Spots

Cherry blossoms and snow make a beautiful pair.

Spring is on its way and that means it’s time to break out those blue tarps, make some rice balls and drink plenty of local beer and sake. It’s cherry blossom viewing time! There are a lot of beautiful spots to enjoy them here in Nagano prefecture, where the mountains add a beautiful touch of white to the spring scenery. Who knew you could see sakura and snow at the same time?

2017’s blossoms should be coming in a about a week later than last year. Because Nagano is quite long from North to South, expect different areas to have noticeably different bloom schedules. I have included some dates for best viewing with each entry. Weather is fickle and subject to change, so check the weather and Sakura Forecasts occasionally for updates!

For tips on car navigation to these sightseeing spots, click here.

Takato Castle Park, Ina city

Takato’s cherry blossom trees are considered some of the most beautiful in Japan.

Takato Castle Park is arguably the most famous place to see cherry trees in all of Nagano prefecture (and part of Japan’s top 100). Its unique Takato-kohigan variety of tree is considered one of the most beautiful in Japan because of its dense branches and light pink blossoms. During full bloom the flowers blot out the sky. You simply have to see it to believe it.

While you’re here, try Takato’s very own style of soba served with grilled miso.

Best Blossoms: April 16th to 20th, 2017

Location: Ina city, Southern Nagano

Access: Take a bus from Ina station to the Takato station stop. See below for bus schedule (520 yen one way).

Komoro Kaikoen, Komoro city

Kaikoen's San-no-mon gate and stone walls are all that remain of Komoro castle.

Kaikoen is another one of Japan’s top 100 sakura spots. Here lay the ruins of Komoro castle, originally built in the late 1400s. Much has been destroyed, but the gate and stone walls remain intact and are registered nationally as important cultural properties. You may feel as if you’ve stepped into a maze as you wander through the park, most likely an intentional design to confuse invaders.

Afterwards, take a dip in a 1000-meter high onsen.

Best Blossoms: April 22nd to 26th, 2017

Location: Komoro city, Eastern Nagano

Access: The park is directly next to Komoro station. From Nagano station, take the Shinano Railway line and get off at Komoro station (approx. 60 min). From Tokyo, take the Asama or Hakutaka Shinkansen to Karuizawa station (approx. 60 min), then change to the Shinano Railway line for Nagano. Get off at Komoro Station (approx. 25 min).

Garyu Koen, Suzaka city

Garyu's cherry trees are especially beautiful at night.

This park has also been selected as part of Japan’s top 100, and it’s easy to see why. There are 14 different types of cherry trees here from Edo Kohigan to Shidare-zakura (weeping cherry), and they reflect beautifully in the pond below. The cherry blossoms are lit up at night while colorful food stalls prepare festival favorites like takoyaki, fried chicken and yaki soba.

Before heading to the park for a night stroll, visit Suzaka’s street of storehouses. They are remnants of Suzaka’s history as a prosperous silk town, and you can see traditional town architecture and earthern-walled buildings. If you like sake, Suzaka’s Endo Brewery is here as well. You can also stop by Guest house Kura for a coffee or snack.

Best Blossoms: April 16th to 20th, 2017

Location: Suzaka city, Northern Nagano

Access: From Nagano station, take the Nagano Dentetsu line to Suzaka station. From there, it’s a 20 minute walk, 5 minute taxi or 10 minute bus ride. If taking the bus, get off at Garyukoen or Garyukoen Iriguchi stop (200 yen).

Ueda Castle Ruins, Ueda city

Ueda Castle's history was widely celebrated in NHK's 2016 drama, "Sanada Maru."

Ueda castle has been receiving a lot of attention recently as the home of the Sanada clan, whose member Sanada Yukimura is the star of this year’s NHK period drama, Sanada Maru. Visitors can check out the “Doramakan” which contains props, clothing and dioramas related to his life and story. As you walk through Ueda Castle’s ruins, you can enjoy beautiful cherry trees that have been here since the beginning of the Showa period, about 100 years ago.

There is a well-preserved historical street nearby with artisan bakeries, restaurants and shops. Visitors may be interested in spending the night in Bessho Onsen, a short train ride from Ueda city.

Best Blossoms: April 12th to 16th, 2017

Location: Ueda city, Eastern Nagano

Access: Take the Ueda Machinaka bus from Ueda station to Koen Kita. The bus runs every half hour from 9:00 to 17:00 (100 yen one way).

Mastumoto Castle, Mastumoto city

National treasure Matsumoto Castle is another popular viewing spot.

While Matsumoto Castle’s cherry blossoms haven’t been awarded a coveted spot in Japan’s top 100 category, it is an important symbol of Nagano and has amazing views of the Northern Alps. Let’s face it, if you’re visiting Nagano for the first time you’re probably going to go to Matsumoto castle, so why not kill three birds with one stone?

Don’t forget to visit Nakamachi-dori and Nawate-dori streets while you’re in the area.

Best Blossoms: April 16th to 20th, 2017

Location: Matsumoto city, Central Nagano

Access: A 15-minute walk from Matsumoto station.

Kozen-ji, Komagane city

Enjoy cherry blossoms and the Central Alps at Kozen-ji. (courtesy of the Komagane Tourism Association)

This large temple in Komagane city is renowned throughout Southern Nagano for its many beautiful structures and its peaceful, forested landscape. The road towards the temple is lined with large Japanese cedar trees, and over 70 weeping cherry trees dot the premises.

Nearby is popular Senjojiki Cirque, accessible by the Komagatake Ropeway. It is open year-round and offers amazing views of the Central and Southern Japanese alps from 2,612 meters above sea level. Plentiful snow still remains up at these altitudes during spring, and snow melt feeds the cirque’s Nakagosho waterfall for a spectacular sight.

Best Blossoms: April 18th to 22nd, 2017

Location: Komagane city, Southern Nagano

Access: From Nagano station, take the Wide View Shinano train to Shiojiri station, then change to the JR Chuo line and get off at Tatsuno station. Finally, change to the Iida line and get off at Komagane station (approx. 135 min).
Take the Komagatake Ropeway Bus and get off at Kiriishi Koen Shita stop (between Nyotai Iriguchi and Suganodai Bus Center stops), then walk 5 minutes. Buses run to the temple once every hour from 8:00 to 15:00, and once every hour back from 9:12 to 16:12. More buses are added after April 18th.

You may wish to use this website to help plan your train ride!

Koboyama Koen, Matsumoto City

Thousands of cherry trees surround the crest of Koboyama.

This lesser known tourist spot has gained popularity recently as a setting in the manga Orenji. This large hill overlooks the city and is surrounded by a wall of 4000 cherry trees. In full bloom the view from the top is spectacular, and there are also walking paths through the trees as well. During peak viewing season the area has nightly light ups.

Best Blossoms: April 18th to 23rd, 2017

Location: Matsumoto city, Central Nagano

Access: From Matsumoto Bus Terminal, take the Namiyanagi line bus to Koboyama Iriguchi. From Matsumoto station, take the JR Chuo line to Minami Matsumoto station, then walk for 30 minutes.

Additional Information

Takato Castle Bus Weekday Schedule (2017)

To Ina To Takato
Takato Station Inashi Station Inashi Station Takato Station
6:53 7:16 7:18 7:39
7:30 7:58 7:49 8:10
8:15 8:43 9:00 9:23
9:25 9:51 10:41 11:04
10:30 10:55 11:37 12:00
11:40 12:50 12:31 12:56
12:30 12:55 13:21 13:44
13:30 13:55 14:28 14:53
15:07 15:32 15:43 16:06
15:55 16:20 16:33 16:56
16:47 17:12 18:05 18:28
17:58 18:21 18:43 19:06
18:45 19:08 19:36 19:59

Takato Castle Bus Weekend Schedule (2017)

To Ina To Takato
Takato Station Inashi Station Inashi Station Takato Station
7:40 8:01 7:49 8:10
9:25 9:49 9:00 9:23
10:38 11:01 10:41 11:04
11:35 11:58 11:51 12:14
13:30 13:53 13:15 13:39
15:35 15:58 15:57 16:20
17:13 17:36 18:05 18:28
18:45 19:08 18:43 19:06

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Endo Brewery

Open daily from 8:30 to 18:00. There is a storefront with free sake tasting available. For location, click here. Can be reached via the Yonaka, Seni or Myotoku Danchi line buses. Get off at the Chuo Kominkan stop.

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Guest House Kura

Cafe is open from 12:00 to 16:00 on business days (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). For location, click here. For more information, see their English website.

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Bessho Onsen

An Onsen town on the Shionada plain outside of Ueda city. There are many beautifully-crafted temples and ryokan here, earning it the nickname “the Kamakura of Nagano.” It can be reached from Ueda station via the Ueda Dentetsu Bessho line. The town proper is a 5-minute walk away. For more information, see here.

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Tips for Drivers

Rental cars come with car navigation systems and you can search for your destination by phone number. Use these numbers below to help navigate yourself to each sakura spot.

Takato Castle Park: 0265-94-2551 will take you to the Takato town hall, along the way you will see signs for the park.

Komoro Kaikoen: 0267-22-1234 will take you to the Komoro Tourism Association near the park. Ask there about parking spots.

Garyu Koen: 026-245-0407 takes you to a parking lot adjacent to the park. During the Cherry Blossom festival, parking is 500 yen.

Ueda Castle Ruins: 0268-23-5408 will take you to the Ueda city Tourism Center across from the park. You can ask about parking there.

Matsumoto Castle: 0263-32-2902 takes you directly to the castle. Parking is available near Matsumoto station.

Kozen-ji: 0265-83-2736 takes you directly to the temple. Parking is available there.

Koboyama: Most car navigation systems also accept Map Codes. Use this one to reach the parking lot by the walking trail: 75 763 070*55.

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