Thursday, April 18, 2013

Miharu's Takizakura - Fukushima's pride

It is a well known fact that Cherry Blossom is Japan's pride. Though Japan does not have an official National Flower, most Japanese would like to believe that Sakura, as Cherry Blossom is known in Japan, is the national flower of Japan. The Sakura is also depicted on the rear of the100 yen coin. Cherry blossom is so important to the nation that each year, the meteorological agency releases a blossom forecast much in advance so that people can plan their spring vacations, trips and hanami parties in advance. Local news broadcasts also give daily updates about status of blossoms in surrounding areas to. No wonder then that Japan has its list of top Cherry Blossom viewing spots and Cherry Blossom trees
Each year thousands of locals and visitors to Japan, make their annual "Hanami" pilgrimages to these spots.  

Fukushima prefecture has one such reputed Cherry Blossom spot - the waterfall cherry blossom tree in Miharu town, locally known as Miharu no Taki zakura.
 At 12 meters high and with a circumference of 9.5 metres, the Takizakura finds a place among Japan's top 5 giant cherry trees. 
The tree is an ancient tree and is believed to be over 1000 years old. The tree was designated a national treasure in 1922. 

The tree is a symbol of pride for the people of Miharu which is otherwise a small farming community. In 2005 when the tree suffered damage to its branches due to heavy snowfall, villagers toiled hard to clear out the snow to avoid extensive damage. The tree escaped any damage during the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011.  

The tree is 12 metres high, the trunk circumference is 9.5 metres, the east-west spread is 22 metres, and the north-south spread is 18 metres. 

The Takizakura flowers in mid to late April, and its light pink flowers spread in all directions from the branches, like a waterfall. 
The tree is even lit up at nights during peak blossom period. 

An estimated 300,000 people visit it each year during the flowering period which lasts approximately a week. Please check exact flowering dates as it tends to change each year.  

Miharu is a short drive south of Koriyama city.  Train ride from JR Koriyama station to JR Miharu stations takes about 15 minutes on JR Banetsu line. Shuttle buses are available from JR Miharu station during the Blossom period. Traffic congestion can be expected on roads leading to the Takizakura during this period.    

Useful links : (Japanese only)

Entrance fees: Adults : 300 yen (during blossom season)  
                     Students (junior high school and younger) : free

Access: 296, Sakurakubo, Takiaza, Miharu-machi, Tamura gun, Fukushima prefecture 

Phone: 0247-62-3960

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