Minamiizucho – Best place for first sakura of the season
I absolutely love spring and the cherry blossom in Japan. Knowing that I might be moving after I graduate this fall, I want to see as much sakura as possible. Therefore I went on a trip, south of Tokyo, to Izu in Shizuoka prefecture. Izu is known as one of the first areas to visit for the cherry blossom season in Japan. Sakura usually blooms late March and early April but in Izu, the peak of cherry blossom viewing is actually early March.
I went to several places in Izu for cherry blossom and the best place has to be Minamiizucho. It is quite difficult to get there but it is definitely worth the trip. From Shimoda train ticket, which is already nearly 3 hours by train from Tokyo, one must take a ticket or the bus further south to Minamiizucho. The bus actually runs only one or twice an hour so I went with the taxi. Due to its remoteness, there are actually not a lot of tourists which is rare for most cherry blossom viewing places are usually packed with tourists. Getting back was also a difficulty for there was no taxi at all and I basically had to time myself precisely for the bus or else I would not be able get back to the hotel.
At Mimamiizucho, one can walk along the river and really get in touch with nature. The river are lined with sakura trees on both sides. Underneath these trees are yellow flowers and daffodils. The area itself is huge and the sakura trees are everywhere. It is very much a picturesque view that one can imagine in a landscape painting by famous artists. I spent my entire day there and at night is even more stunning. After the sunset, the town starts its night sakura festival by lighting the river with tiny blue lights that turn the river to a sapphire crystal blue colour. The river is then put in contrast with the spotlight on the cherry blossom trees, creating a spectacle for the eyes.
Minamiizucho during the cherry blossom season is a must visit during a lifetime.