Sakura In February: A Nice Extension To Your Ski Holiday
Catch the sakura in February when you tack on a trip to one of the earliest cherry blossom sites in Japan to the start or finish of your ski holiday in Niseko!
Sakura in February?
For many veteran powder hunters, coming to Japan in time to catch the March cherry blossoms means sacrificing Niseko peak season powder. Typically powder hunters would aim their trip at January or February as these two months see the most snowfall here in Niseko. You wouldn't expect cherry blossoms to appear until mid-late March, especially if you are relying on the large cherry blossom forecasts. While these forecasts are out months before winter is over, they don't always show the small exceptions to the general trends and tend to focus on many of the larger 'hanami' or 'flower viewing' epicenters like Tokyo or Osaka. A small town like Kawazu wouldn't generally appear on the larger sakura forecasts and as such it can be easy to miss out on these exceptions.
With under 8000 people, Kawazu Town, located in Shizuoka prefecture, is known for having particularly early-blooming cherry blossoms and a range of lovely onsen. The cherry blossoms in Kawazu Town are known to bloom as quickly as early-February, but don't usually reach their peak until mid-to-late February. According to town officials in the onsen town, 2017 saw the earliest full-bloom in over 15 years. While not every year will see a particularly quick bloom, this does provide an excellent option to those who look to come to Niseko during the colder month of February to tack on a little trip to catch the sakura.
Spring before Winter?
One of the biggest advantages of coming to Japan over other ski destinations around the world is the chance to explore a culture that is unique and different to that of home. With the efficient infrastructure of modern Japan, catching a flight or train to a second travel location is easier than ever before. Kawazu Town is under 3 hours away from Tokyo and can be easily added on as a day trip before or after your trip up to Niseko, Hokkaido.
With the early blooming time of Kawazu Town, you have a new option that adds a lot of flexibility with your trip in Japan if you are keen to combine skiing and sakura. Most exciting, it gives you the ability to play with time and seasons, causing spring to come before winter! If you were to come in for the Kawazu town cherry blossom festival before you flew up to Hokkaido to ski in Niseko you would get to experience just this! Don't worry too much about missing out on snow as Niseko is usually pretty consistent with getting good snowfall even in March and skiing conditions last through April and until early May most years.
If your travel timing is really good, you might even manage to get a double-dose of sakura. Hit up Kawazu Town first, Niseko second (might need to stay a week or two), and a third cherry blossom spot to finish the trip!