Cherry blossoms in Shiga

Shiga Prefecture has many great spots for cherry blossoms, including two of Japan’s 100 Famous Cherry Blossom Spots at Kaizu-Osaki and Nagahama Castle’s Hokoen Park.

To see the current blooming condition, see the Weather News Sakura page for Shiga. The markers’ warmer colors until red (full bloom) indicate how far the flowers have bloomed. Note that they bloom later in northern Shiga (Takashima and Nagahama) than in southern Shiga (Otsu).

Here are my photos of some of Shiga’s best sakura spots. Click on the photo to see more photos of the respective sakura spot.

Kaizu-osaki

Kaizu-Osaki along the northern lake shore in Takashima. Cherry blossoms with Chikubushima island in the background. Beware of the narrow lakeshore road jammed with cars. 30-mi. walk from JR Makino Station (Kosei Line). Rental bicycles available.

Nagahama Castle in Hokoen Park near JR Nagahama Station (Hokuriku Line). A breath-taking number of cherry trees surround the castle. Be sure to go up the castle tower to see the sakura too.

Hikone Castle is another incredible place for sakura. I recommend going in the morning to take photos.

Mishima ike

Mishima Pond and Mt. Ibuki in Maibara. Prime spot to photograph Shiga’s highest mountain and cherry blossoms.

Yasu

Weeping cherry tree in Omi-Fuji Karyoku Koen Park (also called Omi-Fuji Green Acres) next to Mt. Mikami in Yasu.

hachiman-bori

A walk along the sakura-lined Hachiman-bori Moat in Omi-Hachiman is very pleasant.

zeze

Zeze Castle Park in Otsu includes cherry blossoms planted here in memory of the college rowers from Kanazawa University who died in a rowing accident on Lake Biwa in April 1941.

sakamoto

One of the most beautiful weeping cherry trees at Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Otsu. Near Sakamoto Station on the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line.

miidera

Cherry blossoms lit up at night at Miidera temple in Otsu.

Also see “Shiga’s Top Five Cherry Blossom Spots.”

Essential Vocabulary

  • sakura さくら or 桜 – Cherry blossom and Japan’s national symbol and flower. By far, it is the most celebrated flower in Japan.
  • tsubomi つぼみ – Flower buds.
  • sakura zensen 桜前線 – Cherry blossom front as they bloom across Japan from Okinawa to Hokkaido.
  • kaika 開花 – Flowers started blooming. This is about a week before the tree reaches full bloom.
  • mankai 満開 – Full bloom. You will hear this on the news often.
  • hayasaki 早咲き – Early-blooming flowers. A few varieties of cherry blossoms bloom earlier than usual.
  • hanami or ohanami 花見 – Flower-viewing picnic (often with alcohol) under the cherry blossoms at a park. The most common way to celebrate spring under the flowers and commonly seen in the news. Hanami picnics are usually not allowed in shrines and temples.
  • sakura matsuri さくらまつり or 桜祭り- Cherry blossom festival. Not a religious festival, but can take the form of various events and stage entertainment.
  • Somei Yoshino 染井吉野 – The most common and coveted species of cherry blossoms whose light pink (almost white) flowers bloom in fluffy bunches on the tree.
  • yo-zakura 夜桜 – Cherry blossoms lit up at night. Some temples and parks light up the flowers at night.
  • shidare-zakura しだれ桜 or 枝垂桜 – Weeping cherry blossoms with long, hanging branches of flowers.
  • Sakura Meisho さくら名所 – Famous cherry blossom spot. It is most often a castle, public park, garden, shrine/temple, or riverside.
  • Sakura, Sakura さくら さくら- Famous folk song about cherry blossoms.
  • chiru, chitta 散る、散った – Flowers fell off the tree. Happens a few days after full bloom when the petals fall like pink snow.
  • sakura fubuki さくら吹雪 – Swirling cherry blossom petals. Occurs when the wind blows off the flower petals, creating a pink snow.
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Heavy snowfall in Shiga

Lake Yogo with deep snow.

Shiga and the Japan Sea Coast (especially Niigata Prefecture) got a heavy dump of snow during Feb. 2 and 3, 2012. Nagahama and Imazu (Takashima) in northern Shiga have gotten over 70 cm of snow. On Feb. 3, some 160 troops from the Ground Self-Defense Forces were dispatched to Imazu to help remove snow. The last time they dispatched military personnel for snow removal was 31 years ago in Jan. 1981.

On the morning of Feb. 3, people in central Nagahama, such as in Kurokabe Square, were busy shoveling snow. Maibara and Hikone also got a good amount of snow. Some 35 kindergartens and elementary and junior high schools in Nagahama and Maibara canceled classes on Feb. 3 due to hazardous roads. Meanwhile, 105 schools either delayed the start of classes or canceled afternoon classes.

Snowy and icy roads are also causing car accidents. During Feb. 2-3, about 300 accidents occurred mainly due to road slippage. Twenty-two people were injured. Higashi-Omi, Hikone, and Omi-Hachiman saw the most car accidents with 76, 63, and 50 accidents respectively.

People are also getting injured while shoveling snow off their rooftops or falling into roadside gutters hidden by the snow. Some agricultural greenhouses also collapsed under the snow, even as south as Kora town.

The snowfall’s peak is passing, but shinkansen trains are being delayed between Nagoya and Kyoto on Feb. 4.

Take extra precautions when traveling to or in Shiga. Be very careful when walking on icy surfaces. Beware of cars that cannot stop due to road slippage. And don’t forget about the Hong Kong flu that’s going around. A very high number of cases have been reported in neighboring Gifu, so take precautions especially for the kids and elderly. Stay safe this winter.

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