Today, I’d like to introduce you to yet another part of Japan that is amazing during the springtime. Locally known as the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi, this hidden gem can be found up in Saitama Prefecture along the Arakawa riverbank. Every year during the period from late March to early April, the city of Kumagaya holds its annual cherry blossom festival here which welcomes the likes of food trucks and revelers enjoying their annual hanami. Should you be in Japan during the cherry blossom season, the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi is certain to yield some lovely pictures.
While Kumagaya City itself is a place with a lot of interesting cultural things to see and do, there is really not much historical significance to the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi per say. From the little that I can gather online, the location has at least been enjoyed since as far back as the Edo period (1603–1868). Moreover, it has long been considered to be one of Japan’s top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots, a laudation that is quite the feat given how many amazing places there are in this country during full bloom. I guess that alone is enough to warrant a visit?
All things considered, the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi is indeed a bit off of the beaten path for most overseas visitors to Japan. Thus, if you’re not the type of person who likes to explore niche locales in the comparative countryside, I’d be hard pressed to call it a “must visit” when there are so many other options out there in this nation. At the same time though, the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi is indeed extremely beautiful during the spring. Moreover, you won’t need to contend with as many tacky tourists as you will at the more well known mainstays in Tokyo.
How to Get There
Before I get into what makes the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi so alluring in the upcoming section, allow me a quick intermission to cover some key logistics. For starters, you’re going to want to begin by finding your way to the JR Kumagaya Station. This can be done in a number of ways so just refer to a service like Jorudan to calculate the most efficient way of getting there. For most people the Takasaki Line (via the Ueno-Tokyo Line) will be the most simple means of reaching Kumagaya City.
Though I did indeed take the Takasaki Line up to Kumagaya Station, one thing to note here is that some Hokuriku Shinkansen lines stop here. Thus, travelers with the proper JR rail pass can shave around half an hour off of their journey by making use of the bullet train. Seeing as I am a long term resident of Japan, I am probably not the best source of information when it comes to passes only available to overseas travelers. Alas, if you have the right pass, it is indeed an expedient option.
Regardless of how you actually end up getting to Kumagaya Station though, know that the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi can easily be reached on foot. Even at a leisurely pace, it is only around a seven minute walk or so from the train station. All you need to do is follow your fellow cherry blossom viewing Japanese compariats who will almost assuredly be making their way down towards the Arakawa and the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi.
Cherry Blossoms & Nanohana
As mentioned earlier, there are A LOT of amazing places to see the cherry blossoms during late March and early April. Why one would want to pick the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi over anywhere else has a lot to do with the site’s bed of nanohana (rapeseed flowers). This carpet of bright yellow contrasts incredibly well with the lovely pink of the cherry blossom trees. Especially when you add in a bright blue sky on a clear day, this trinity of hues will redefine what the word “beautiful” means to you.
Now, there are a number of other places in Japan where you can witness this trifecta. In fact, I recently featured one such location on this blog in February called Nishihirabatake Park. That said, despite there being several other selections out there for viewing the nanohana with the cherry blossoms, this shouldn’t deter you from visiting the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi. The two kilometer-long stretch is one of the most generous in Japan, meaning that you’ll have ample space to yourself if you look for it.
Other Nearby Attractions
Truth be told, I actually stumbled across the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi completely by accident. When I was planning my recent outing to the cosplayer-famous Senbonzakura of Torayama, I happened to stumble across the spot when on the hunt for nearby add-ons. After visiting though, I was so impressed by the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi that I decided that it needed its own dedicated piece. Should you want to see more pink pretties though, definitely consider the Senbonzakura of Torayama too!
One other convenient addition to the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi is the town of Chichibu. Thanks to being directly connected to Kumagaya Station via the Chichibu Main Line, this amazing part of Saitama Prefecture is also a great idea for those looking for more allures. Especially if you’re visiting the Kumagaya Sakura Tsutsumi during the tail end of the season, you can probably luck out and also catch the fantastic phlox fields pictured above at Chichibu’s Hitsujiyama Park.
Finally, know that there are a lot of other attractions in Kumagaya. I detailed some of these in this epic account of my four-day adventure in the Kanto region that I had back in the lead up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup (ah, those were simpler times weren’t they?). Should you be visiting for the Kumagaya Sakura Festival, consider also seeing a little more of what the city has to offer before heading to your next destination.
Until next time travelers…