Many people who want to come to Japan to see cherry blossoms will pay attention to flowering predictions, in order to enjoy cherry blossoms at their peak! Worried that you might miss the ideal time? We think you shouldn’t worry as one of the best times to enjoy the blossoms is after their peak when the petals start falling resulting in hana fubuki (花吹雪), a blizzard of cherry blossom petals, and hana ikada (花筏), flower petals settling on water.
What is Hana Ikada?
Hana Ikada, or flower rafts, refer to a large number of cherry blossom petals that cluster together and float along the surface of a water body. Usually, you can see Hana Ikada where there is water and only after the blossoms have reached their peak.
Best time to see Hana Ikada
Everyone knows that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom about 6-7 days after the first bloom. Once the blossoms are in full bloom, usually the trees will be at their best for a day or two following which the petals start falling. You can see the flower rafts starting to form four – five days after full bloom. You can see the rafts for up to a week or so. Hirosaki Castle in Aomori is the most famous spot to see Hana Ikada.
Famous spots in Tokyo and Saitama
Although Hirosaki Castle is the most famous for this, there are a couple of spots close to Tokyo too!
1. Meguro River
Meguro River in Tokyo is without a doubt one of the most popular hanami spots.
More than 800 cherry blossom trees extend all along the river. Although you can’t see Hana Ikada in its full glory, you will still get glimpses of it here.
The cherry blossoms of along the moat of the Imperial Palace bend into the water creating reflections here.
Here, you can enjoy boat rides under the blossoms that seem that they are kissing the water! At one end of the moat, you can see Hana Ikada too.
3. Hikawa Shrine, Kawagoe in Saitama
You must be familiar with Kawagoe, just an hour from Tokyo, also known as “Little Edo.” In this quaint town, you can truly enjoy the spectacle of Hana Ikada close to Hikawa Shrine.
Since the river running along here is more like a rivulet, the fallen petals collect densely in several spots. You can also join a boat ride here and literally row through a bed of gorgeous pink.
The best spot to see Hana Ikada in Japan
Nothing beats Hirosaki Park when it comes to the sighting of Hana Ikada. The cherry blossoms here are without a doubt some of the best in Japan. This is also the location of Hirosaki Castle which was built in the Edo period and is an important cultural heritage of Japan. Check out the latest updates on Aomori cherry blossom forecasts here.
In the park that surrounds the castle, there are approximately 2,600 sakura trees of 52 species that attract a lot of hanami visitors during spring. There are somei yoshino sakura that are over 130 years old and some say that the sakura of Hirosaki are number one in Japan. Hirosaki Sakura Festival is held during the blooming season and brings a lively atmosphere through illumination, food stands and many events.
For the latest information on cherry blossoms, don’t forget to check our comprehensive Sakura guides!