Even when their brief time comes to a close, the cherry blossoms continue to be breathtakingly beautiful.

When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, most people who want to see the beautiful flowers head to a park, where they can lay down a tarp and stretch out while admiring the view. Alternatively, some outdoorsy individuals like to go off into the mountains in search of naturally growing sakura trees.

But if you have the chance, you also shouldn’t miss seeing cherry blossoms at a river, or, if you want to be old-school, a castle with a moat. Many of Japan’s waterways are lined with cherry trees, and don’t worry if you’re too late to see them in full bloom. If you time your riverside cherry blossom viewing just slightly after the peak of sakura season, there’s a whole different way to enjoy them, called hanaikada.

As we talked about last year, hanaikada means “flower raft” and refers to the clusters of cherry blossoms that float along the surface of a body of water after fluttering down from nearby trees. In the picture directly above, that’s not a broad pedestrian walkway with a carpet of freshly fallen sakura, but the moat of Hirosaki Castle in Aomori Prefecture.


Built in the early 17th century, Hirosaki Castle remains the most iconic symbol of the town of Hirosaki to this day. It’s also one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing destinations in the country, as both its perimeter and interior grounds are covered with cherry trees.

While most sakura are a delicate pale pink in color, some of them are also white, as can be seen in these two photos of hanaikada at Hirosaki Castle.

If you’re looking at these pictures and kicking yourself for not planning a trip to Aomori this weekend, don’t kick too hard, because these photos were taken last year. Due to its northern location, Aomori’s sakura bloom later than their Tokyo-area counterparts, and with the cherry blossoms still approaching their peak in the capital, you’ve got a few weeks yet until the petals start falling en masse into the Hirosaki moat.

On the other hand, it’s probably not a good idea to wait too long if you’d like to see the hanaikada at Tokyo’s Megurogawa River

or Yokohama’s Okagawa River. These pictures, also from a year ago, show they’re no slouches either.

As always though, the sakura are fickle things as far as when they’ll bloom and how long they’ll stick around. But there are sure to be plenty of gorgeous photos online of hanaikada over the weeks to come, and even if you miss out on seeing the phenomenon in person, there’s always next year.

Source: Grape