Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hottest Hanami spots in Southern Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture in Japan, enjoys sakura seasons from end April till late May. In the recent years, the full bloom period for Hakodate always coincide with the Golden week holidays, making it the IT place to travel to for hanami (for locals and foreigners). We made a brief stop in Hakodate to experience the holiday atmosphere while viewing the cherry blossoms.

Top 3 Sakura viewing spots in and around Hakodate

Goryokaku Park 五稜郭公園

Location - 15mins by tram from JR Hakodate station, alight at Goryokaku Koen Mae stop (五稜郭公園前), from where it is another 10mins on foot.

If you can only go to one place for hanami in Hakodate, this park will be your perfect choice. The star-shaped fortress in the park will be painted pink by sakura blossoms in May. Visitors can enjoy picnic under the blooms, take scenic boat rides along the moats or catch the bird's eye view of the park from the Goryokaku tower.

The iconic pink star view from the Goryokaku tower

Former Magistrate Office with a single Plum blossom tree in full bloom


Hakodate park 函館公園

Location - 10mins by tram from JR Hakodate station, alight at Aoyagicho stop (青柳町), 3mins on foot to the main entrance.

If you have a bit more time in Hakodate, do consider this smaller local park located near to the Ropeway station at the foot of Mt. Hakodate. It features numerous cherry trees surrounding its paths, a fountain, a mini zoo and children's playground. During sakura seasons, many street food stalls will line the pavements giving the place a lively festive mood.

Children's playground area

Matsumae park & castle 松前城

Location - from JR Kikonai Station, 1.5hr by Hakodate bus bound for Matsushiro stop (松代), 15mins on foot to the main entrance.

This location is quite out-of-the-way but is worth a visit if you have a full day to spare, or if you have missed the peak viewing period for sakura within the Hakodate city. The main attraction in this park is the late blooming Naden Sakura (南殿桜), a darker pink beauty that adorns the entire park and castle grounds. Do check it out if you have time.

The one & only Japanese style castle in Hokkaido

Naden sakura

So beautiful...

We're a little early, most trees are only 30-50% bloom

Matsumae shrine

Somei Yoshino sakura

Other kinds of sakura in the park

Other Hanami spots in Hokkaido

Aobagaoka Park 青葉ヶ丘公園

Location - from JR Hakodate station 45mins train ride on "JR Ltd. Exp. Super Hokuto" train to Mori station. 15mins walk from Mori train station.

If you've just missed the peak viewing period in Hakodate city but don't wanna travel so far to Matsumae park. You might want to consider this non-touristy local park located in the quiet town of Mori. It has quite a few late blooming species available for viewing on top of the common Somei Yoshino sakura trees. Food stalls are available during the hanami season too.

Former Hokkaido Government Office

Location - walking distance from JR Sapporo station

A little bit off-topic, but if you have missed the sakura season in major hanami spots in Sapporo city, fret not, this is the place to catch the late blooming Kanzan sakura, in mid May! It isn't a huge location but it's still gorgeous nonetheless.

There you go, my humble list of hanami spots in south Hokkaido, all accessible by public transportation. If you are curious about how to plan a sakura chase in Japan, please click here for more info.

Ending this post with some dazzling night sakura at Goryogaku park. Enjoy!