Your visit to Japan is incomplete without seeing the lovely cherry blossoms, with its colors painted in different shades of pink and even sometimes appearing like flowing tears reaching to the ground. And whether you are just a casual enthusiast with a smart phone or a professional photographer, taking scenic pictures of Japan in spring should be one of your bucket list.
During the Sakura Season in Spring, you’ll find that the spots in Fukushima can top other locations in Japan. A city where you can capture a utopian beauty you won’t see in highly commercialized cities in the country: scenic shades of spring with the serene background of nature. If you are looking to spend only a day of your time and less than 10,000 yen per person, but still want to capture spring and sakura at it’s finest, then follow my guide of how two photographers explored spring in Fukushima.
To make the best of the time, our trip started very early, 6:50am to be exact, from Sendai Station by Shinkansen. Normally it costs 3,680 yen for one trip to Fukushima, but if you’re going back to Sendai after the trip, you can purchase a ticket called “W-kippu” from the ticketing office. This is a two-way split ticket and costs only 4,620 yen with a validity of one month.
Being early really helps a lot if you want to arrive at your first spot with less people and not too harsh sunlight. Our first location was Hanamiyama Park. It is accessible by City Bus and picks up passengers at the Fukushimaekihigashi Bus Station, Bus Stop No. 8. The take off point would be Hanamiyamairiguchi Bus Stop, and costs 240 yen. From here is a 20 minute walk into the Hanamiyama Park.
Must see spots in Hanamiyama for your dream photos
The Hanamiyama, which literally translates into “Flower Viewing Mountain”, is really true to its name. A park where in every turn of the head is a dream location for any photographer. Going on a weekend maybe challenging due to overwhelming crowd, but with proper angle, patience, and some scouting skills for hidden spots, you can make it appear that you got the whole mountain exclusive. And while you’re at it, don’t miss the chance to try the Sakura Ice Cream, which literally has sakura petals on it, for just 250 yen. We spent 3.5 hours in Hanamiyama and it was just enough before the heat starts getting too harsh. From the same bus stop where we took off earlier and for the same fare, we headed back to Fukushima station.
Eating lunch can be tricky when you have a tight schedule. But if you still want a sumptuous and authentic japanese noodle meal at a reasonable price, then the くをん (Kuon) Ramen Restaurant is your best choice. Not to mention that it’s only a minute walk from Fukushima Station: https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place/Kuon. This cozy ramen shop uses vending machine for self ordering your meal, and if in doubt with your choice, you can always ask the waiter for help or even to ask their “おすすめ(Osusume)” (Popular).
The most popular dish in くをん: つけめん (Tsukemen)
For just 800 yen, you can enjoy their famous noodle dish calledつけめん (Tsukemen) or often translated into “Dipping Ramen”. It is served into two separate bowls, one with the cold noodle and the other for the hot dipping soup. It is a little bit spicy and contains chunks of pork, perfect as a heavy meal after hours of hiking in Hanamiyama.
The following spots were quite far from the city center, which only means one good thing: no crowd. In fact, we found our second spot accidentally after taking the correct bus but on wrong route. The name of the place is Sunada Arai: https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place/Sunada+Arai. You can get to this place from Fukushimaekihigashi Bus Station, Bus Stop No. 7, and get off at Taonohara Bus Stop which costs 610 yen.
Imagine the infinite number of ways you can take photos in this sea of flowers
It is a vast field of yellow mustard flower just next to the road. Other than the friendly bees buzzing around, there’s not so many people and cars around this area, so you can enjoy the perfect frame.
Just 12 minutes walk from this place is the Azuma Sports Park (あづま総合運動公園). It’s a wide and serene park, surrounded with trees and green fields. In sakura season, you’ll find that this spot stands out from its neighborhood: https://www.google.co.jp/maps/place/Azuma+Sports+Park.
Sakura Trail in Azuma Sports Park
It was almost sunset when we arrived at the Azuma Sports Park, and we were pretty lucky that there were no cars and no other people around. It was the perfect timing to do some photoshoots along the road, over the towering sakura trees.
About 2 hours later, we headed to our last spot which was Mt. Shinobu Park. From Azuma Sports Park, the closest bus stop is Jieitaiiriguchi Bus Stop, which takes about 20 minute of walking. Upon arriving at Fukushima Station, transfer to another bus at Bus Stop No. 9 (２コース［曽根田先回り］) and get off at Fukushimaterebi Bus Stop, which totals up to 710 yen. From this stop, Mt. Shinobu Park is just a 4 minute walk.
Sakura Matsuri at night in Mt. Shinobu
At night, you can see the beauty of sakura glowing in the lights while also enjoy japanese street foods at the various food stalls. There, you can get get dinner with two to three kinds of food and will set you back just 1200 yen. At the center of the park, there is also a shrine with traditional japanese music playing in the background. We went back to Fukushima Station around 8:30pm, by the same bus at the same bus stop were we took off, and costed a 100 yen.
We headed to Sendai with much smile on our face and with an unforgettable memory of Fukushima’s paradise. And this is how we capture the spring paradise of Fukushima in one day with under 10,000 yen.