The Japan National Tourism Organization has a record high of foreign visitors in 2016 which exceeded 21 million – 24% growth on 2015. This reflects the growth as well as the evenly distributed visits to the country throughout the year and the distinction four seasons.
If you were to plan for your first, what is the ideal season?
Without hesitation, spring time is the best.
The cherry blossom is the centre of attention in the spring. If you were to be in the city frequented with tourists, you could easily identify the viewing spots by following the crowd. Be it rain or shine, if you are in Ueno Park or Chidori-ga-fuchi in Tokyo or the Arashiyama historic site in Kyoto, the number of people exceeds the cherry blossoms.
Would you rather avoid the crowd and appreciate the beauty in tranquility? The cherry blossom in Japan is known worldwide for its beauty and abundance – along the river bank, in the schools and parks. During the season, these areas are swarmed with locals. Countless viewing spots including those which are not known to the foreigners.
One of ideal locations is Gongendo in Satte city of Saitama Prefecture – 50 kilometres drive from Tokyo.
Historically, the cherry blossom planting at Gongendo was in connection with flood prevention. Flow interceptors and dams were constructed dated back to end of 16th century. As many as 3,000 were planted during the era of Taisho Emperor (1912 – 1926). Nevertheless, the World War II has turned their fate into burning fuels. Today, what you see are all the new grown after the war in 1949, approximately 1,000 trees within the stretch of 1 kilometre.
To kill two birds with one stone in Gongendo, apart from viewing the cherry blossoms, there is a sea of canola flowers. Both bloom around the same time welcoming the visitors to this paradise.
The opportunity to have both the cherry blossoms and canola flowers simultaneously is very rare. As the venue is not easily accessible, there are less visitors. You could enjoy the open space and immerse yourself in the nature.
In Japan, cherry blossom not only indicates the arrival of spring, but also the time to go back to school and graduation. It is part of every Japanese’s life since childhood. As we get older, we start to appreciate it more regardless of the season since it is always there.
Why rush in this once in a lifetime visit? Why not consider spending a day to relax and enjoy the viewing at Gongendo?
When to go?
According to the past records of blooming (2008 – 2017) from the Japan Meteorological Agency, take Tokyo as an example, the earliest was recorded in 2013 (March 16) where the latest was in 2012 (March 30).
One point to note is the time gap between the “blooming” and “full blooming” days. In Tokyo, it lasts between end of March and early April. Further details can be found here (in Japanese only).
How to get there?
Once arrive at Satte Station, board the Asahi Bus (朝日バス) towards Goka-machi Yakuba (五霞町役場), get off at Gongendo (権現堂) – one way for JPY180. There are additional services during cherry blossom season, once every 30 min. Or alternatively set your destination using the phone number：0480-42-6221 The parking lot is located across the street opposite the destination.
Travelling time: 90 min from Shibuya; 65 min from Akihabara; 65 min from Asakusa. Timing from any other stations to Satte Station via train (metro) can be found here.
埼玉県（さいたまけん / Saitama）> 幸手市（さってし / Satte）> 内国府間（うちごうま / Uchigoma) > 867
Once arrive at Satte Station, board the Asahi Bus (朝日バス) towards Goka-machi Yakuba (五霞町役場), get off at Gongendo (権現堂) – one way for JPY180. There are additional services during cherry blossom season, once every 30 min.
Or alternatively set your destination using the phone number：0480-42-6221
The parking lot is located across the street opposite the destination.