The Japanese are a nation of nature lovers and the progress of the cherry blossom is monitored throughout the spring season from late February to early May. Cherry blossom season (sakura season), is viewed as an annual reminder of mortality and the beautiful but fragile nature of life. Cherry blossom in the Setouchi region normally starts appearing from the end of March – mid April, depending on the general weather conditions that year. If the weather before the cherry blossom season is particularly mild, blossoms will start opening earlier than predicted and vice versa for cold snaps. The cherry blossom season can be relatively short; full bloom (mankai) normally lasts around a week before the petals start to drop.
Cherry blossom can be enjoyed from both Honshu and Shikoku islands, looking across the Seto Inland Sea. To really make the most of cherry blossom, and enjoy the trees unspoilt by crowds, it is recommended to head out of the cities and off the beaten track. Here we share three suggestions of top places to enjoy the cherry blossom season in the Setouchi region.
Mt. Shiude – Mitoyo, Kagawa
Standing at 352m above sea level, Mt. Shiude presides over the Shōnai peninsula offering panoramic views across the many islands in Seto Inland Sea and across to the Great Seto Bridge. To the west, the islands of Hiuchi-nada and Ibuki are visible, while to the north, the Kasaoka Islands of Okayama prefecture. On a clear day, even the Chugoku Region and Shodoshima Island can be seen from here.
Mt. Shiude is popular among nature lovers with a vast array of cherry blossoms in springtime and Hydragneas in early summer, both framing the view of the Seto Inland Sea. The viewing platform at the peak, allow visitors to enjoy this famous cherry blossom site, famed for its 1,000 cherry trees.
Following a photography competition run by Mitoyo Tourism Authority in 2016, this 1km long, flat beach is becoming increasingly well known for capturing a mirror –like reflection. Due to the calm waters and mild climate, this beach is a popular swimming destination through the summer. The beach is now famous as a sunset stop for those seeking content for Instagram and attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year – a popular time to visit includes spring to co-inside with the cherry blossom.
Udon House, Kagawa
Kagawa is famous for its “Sanuki Udon Noodles” and boasts over 600 udon restaurants in the prefecture, lending itself to the local name ‘Udon-Prefecture’. For those just looking to sample the best udon in Kagawa, foodies can hail a dedicated Udon Taxi to discover the tastiest dishes in the area. The Udon Taxis are easily recognisable by giant bowls of udon attached to the roof of the cars.
Udon House launched Autumn 2018, offering guests the chance to make local Sanuki Udon noodles from scratch and stay at the property in capsule style pods. A typical two-day course covers the history of udon noodles, the basics of preparing them and the different varieties of sauces and accompaniments. Once complete, participants are able to enjoy the fruits of their labour and tuck into a bowl of homemade Sanuki Udon. Included in the udon masterclass is a tour of local farms and producers which, timed correctly, could include a guided tour of Kagawa’s rural cherry blossom.
Okayama Castle in Okayama prefecture, Miyajima in Hiroshima and Ritsurin Garden are other notable places in Setouchi to view the cherry blossom.