The "cherry blossom front" is working its way north, and soon the Japanese news reports will include the progress of this "front" up the Japanese archipelago. The front usually arrives in Tsukuba about the end of March, meaning that the blossoms just begin to open at that time. They usually peak a week or so after that. This year, however, it looks to be well ahead of schedule, but the weather still to come will play a big role in when the magical event occurs.
In Tsukuba, there are a number of excellent places to enjoy the cherry blossoms, including: ** the walk along the Kokai River south from Fukuoka-seki (follow Tsuchiura-Noda Sen west towards Yawara and Mitsukaido, about 15 to 20 minutes by car from central Tsukuba)
The Kokai River walk is especially nice. Weekend evenings tend to be a bit noisy with "hanami" revellers, but other times are usually quiet and peaceful. Dress warmly, bring something to sit on (it is often muddy), and pack a picnic lunch.
If you don't mind going farther afield, Shimotsuma, Mito and Hitachi also have excellent trees. Located about 30 minutes to the northwest of Tsukuba on Route 125, Shimotsuma is known for its Sanuma Sun Beach, a great summer fun spot, but the entire Sanuma Lake itself is surrounded by cherry trees, making it a nice spring outing as well. To find it, continue on 125 past the junction with Route 294 for about 2 km., and turn to the right at the corner with all the stone lanterns, etc. It's on the right a few hundred meters from there.
Kairakuen in Mito is one of the most famous gardens in Japan and is especially well-known for its plum blossoms in early to mid March. There are, however, plenty of cherry trees as well. Hitachi's Kamine Park, located just north of Hitachi Station, has a very nice amusement park and a small zoo, all surrounded by about 1000 cherry trees. 700,000 Daffodils
Another kind of "hanami" well worth a trip is the Daffodil display at the Hitachi Seaside Park on the coast just east of Mito. With 700,000 daffodil bulbs of 102 varieties together with 30,000 hyacinth bulbs and other flowers, it is truly spectacular. The flowers are at their peak in late March or early April. Hitachi Seaside Park also includes an amusement park with 24 different attractions. It's a nice outing for a family affair. Beware, however, that it is closed on Mondays.
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