Spring Cherry Blossoms Near Mount Fuji
Without us realizing the cherry blossoms have become a symbol of Japan for many foreigners. It might even be something we think about before we think of Mount Fuji.
The cherry blossoms are however an important symbol even for the Japanese, and most schools have cherry blossom trees on the school grounds. The school entrance ceremonies take place as the cherry trees are in full bloom and parents make sure to take photos of their children in their new uniforms with the flower petals floating in the air behind them.
Fujinomiya is a UNESCO world heritage site in the Japanese countryside, a day trip west of Tokyo. The first week of April is the best time to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. If you want to get away from Tokyo and crowds of tourists then Fujinomiya is a beautiful town to visit in spring. There are especially three main places you do not want to miss if you are looking for cherry blossoms.
Taisekiji Temple is the head temple of Nichiren Buddhism and was founded in 1290. It consists of several buildings as well as a big garden where you can sit and enjoy the cherry blossoms in spring. Thousands of pilgrims visit this temple every year to pray, take part in ceremonies and attend gatherings.
When you enter the temple grounds there is a walkway lined with cherry blossom trees on either side. Enjoy the light pink flowers as you explore the grounds and gardens.
You will most likely only meet locals as you visit this temple, and you are almost guaranteed to see monks attending to their everyday chores. Since it is a small town, it is difficult to find information in English. There are local buses that go to the temple, and at Fujinomiya station (same station for both trains and buses) you can get information about the times.
A beautiful garden of cherry blossom trees awaits you once you enter the temple grounds.
The reception hall was first built in 1465, but the current hall was completed in 1998 and replaced the former building due to concerns about the stability in case of an earthquake.
Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha
This shrine is called “Sengen jinja” (Jinja meaning shrine) among the locals, and it is located an easy 10 minute walk away from Fujinomiya station.
In April Mount Fuji is still covered in snow, and with most days being clear in the spring, this may be the best time to visit and both see the cherry blossoms and the famous Fuji-san.
There is a river flowing through town with fresh water coming from Mount Fuji. This river flows along the grounds of the shrine and it is a perfect place to enjoy an o-bento (lunch box) while dipping your toes in the water and gazing up at Mount Fuji with its white cover of snow. The only downside of this place is that all the locals also feel the same way so it tends to be quite crowded.
The shrine is not very big, but it does have a peaceful pond with koi-fish, a place to pray and get o-mikuji (fortune written on a small paper) and places to sit and enjoy your surroundings.
One of the bridges at the shrine and a popular spot for couples to take photos together
View of Mount Fuji from the riverside at the shrine.
This is said to have the best view in the Tokai region where you can see both Mount Fuji, the Fuji river and Izu peninsula. Technically this park belongs to Fuji city but many locals from Fujinomiya also visit this park during the cherry blossom viewing season.
By car it is easy to drive to Iwamotoyama Park and there is also free parking. By public transportation the closest train station is Fuji station and from there you can take a local bus (Monday-Saturday) for about 300 yen, and it will take you to the park in approximately 40 minutes.
From February 1st until April 1oth, there is a ume (plum blossom) and sakura (cherry blossom) festival, and during this time you can also buy typical Japanese snacks at small stands in the park. This park is perfect for picnics and there are a lot of benches around. Make sure you have plenty of time because it’s not a place that you want to rush through.
One of the biggest and oldest trees in the park with a heavy branch at just the right height for pictures.
Light pink cherry blossoms lighting up a gloomy rainy day.
Happy cherry blossom viewing!