With the advent of spring, Japan comesminto bloom with cherry trees blanketing the country with their signature pink pastel petals. In Miyagi, the northern Japanese prefecture known for its natural attractions, cherry trees begin flowering in mid-April, providing unique destinations for endless hanami (flower viewing) even if travelers miss the sakura in Tokyo.
The Mount Zao region offers several vantage points from which to witness the colorful blossoms. The city of Ogawara, which is a thirty-minute train ride from Miyagi’s capital, Sendai, is home to the famous Hitome Senbonzakura (translation: “one thousand cherry trees in a glance”). Trees line the grassy banks of the Shiroishi River, which travelers can view via a river cruise, or by wandering by foot through the scenic grounds. Visitors can also picnic under the trees and sample local street food.
Further up the river near Sendai University, the Funaoka Castle Park is one of the more popular spots in Miyagi for hanami. For easy viewing, there is a slope car that travels up and down the park to view the castle ruins, the area’s famous Kannon statue and the hundreds of blooming trees scattered throughout the grounds.
Further north in the city of Sendai, Tsutsujigaoka Park is a popular spot among locals to view cherry blossoms. The park boasts some unique cherry tree species, including the popular somei yoshino variety and the ukonzakura variety (turmeric cherry trees), which are a pale yellow color instead of the flower’s iconic pink. The park lights up at night as food stalls selling sake and street food pop up, while traditional paper lanterns are illuminated to create an intimate setting.
Mikamine Park is another park in Sendai popular with families, which can be easily accessed from the Nagamachi-Minami Station. Unlike most hanami areas, Mikamine Park has a play area for kids and while there are no food stalls nearby, there are plenty of spaces to have a family picnic.
One of Japan’s “Three Canonical Views,”
according to 16th-century Neo-Confucian philosopher Hayashi
Gahō, Matsushima Bay offers one of the best sites in Japan for
hanami, especially at sunrise. Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park offers uninterrupted panoramic views of cherry blossoms lining the bay. A quick thirty-minute train ride from the park will take guests to Shiogama Shrine, one of the most revered shrines in Miyagi, which lights up for two nights in April, allowing travelers a unique opportunity to view the shrine and cherry blossoms at night.
In the northern region of Sanriku Coast, Hiyoriyama Park at the peak of Mount Hiyoriyama offers not only a beautiful place to view the cherry blossoms, but also holds historical significance for the area.
Overlooking the Kadonowaki and Minamihama residential districts of Ishinomaki City, where more than 500 people lost their lives during the 2011 tsunami, viewpoints around the park display photos of the views before the disaster, giving the viewer an understanding of its true magnitude.
offers relaxing views of the cherry blossoms in Northern Miyagi. This hot spring village features trees all along the
Yuzawa River that are lit up at night. Travelers should check out all of the nearby onsens for a relaxing retreat or take a train through the nearby Naruko Valley to view the lush forests. For more information on Miyagi, please visit