Anyone who has just arrived in Japan and is disappointed to have missed cherry blossom season will be pleased to hear that it’s not quite over yet. As of May 1st, a special variety of blossom known as takane-zakura (タカネザクラ) were just beginning to blossom around Kamikochi and may still be seen in easy to reach areas like the popular Konashidaira campground, just a short walk from Kappa Bridge.
Known scientifically as the prunus nipponica, the Japanese alpine cherry tree is known to grow at higher altitudes where its natural hardiness allows it to survive and bloom at lower temperatures. The trees found in Kamikochi have a particularly pink hue to their blossoms in contrast with deeper violet tones seen elsewhere.
The distribution of these trees is also quite a bit more sparse than the masses of blossoming sakura seen in parks around Japan during cherry blossom season. Expect to see precious alcoves of isolated trees here and there. They robust pink blossoms are also quite photogenic, making them an idea subject for macro photography.
As far as what state the blooms will be in at present (05/09/2016), I would guess they’d be just past peak. Still plenty of blossoms to be found by visitors willing to take a walk around.
Recent postings in the National Park Guide blog tell us that, while Kamikochi is sometimes warm during the day, morning and nighttime are still quite chilly, so be sure to take this into account when packing for your trip. Warm clothing and suitable footwear are as important now as any time in the tourist season.
We’ll be back later this week with more reports about Kamikochi’s spring season. Stay tuned and keep warm!
Sources of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net