I’ve got a secret to tell you…
Cherry blossom season in the Kanto area usually starts at the end of March and lasts for two weeks. However, most people don’t know that you can enjoy hanami
(flower viewing) in late February to early March if you visit the Izu Peninsula. Let me take you to Kawazu…
Picturesque sight of the kawazu-zakura by the bridge
The annual Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival usually begins early February and lasts for about one month. However, the best time to view the cherry blossom will be in late February to early March (weather-dependent).
Kawazu is a coastal town in the Izu Peninsula
The festival is held by the Kawazu River, which gives you a picturesque view of the riverside with pink sakura trees lined up by the stream.
Apart from the sakura (although that is enough reason to visit), there are plenty of other things you can enjoy in Kawazu. Here are three of them:
1. Festival food
During the sakura festival, there are plenty of local food vendors and fresh produce stalls set up along the river. If you’re a fan of citrus fruits, they sell a lot of them.
Festival stalls leading to the Kawazu River
Or, if you love all things sakura, there are plenty of sakura-related snacks to try. It’s a feast for your eyes and your tastebuds.
Sakura and citrus flavoured soft serve
Sakura taiyaki with red beans paste
2. Free foot bath for your tired feet
Once you are tired from all the walking and admiring the sakura, take a pit stop (and a toilet break) at Sasahara Park. Take off your shoes (and socks), and dip your feet into the hot spring water of Sakura Footbath. It’s free, and your feet will thank you for it.
Warm your tired feet at the Sakura Footbath
3. Hike along the seven waterfalls
If you love nature, you might want to consider taking a reasonably easy hike along Kawazu Nanadaru (Seven Waterfalls). Take a bus from the station to the Mizutare bus stop and then walk down the trail, if you prefer the easy way. The waterfalls are gorgeous and there are not as many tourists there!
One of the Seven Waterfalls of Kawazu
I recommend staying overnight at one of the many hotels and ryokans in Kawazu or Shimoda so that you can enjoy the most out of this experience.
Kawazu train station
So where is the Izu Peninsula and how do you get there?
Famous for its hot springs and beaches, from Tokyo it takes about 50 minutes by shinkansen or 80 minutes by Odoriko limited express trains to Atami. From there, you have to take the local Izukyu Railway Company to continue your journey. I recommend purchasing the Tokyo Wide Pass (a 3-day pass to take you around Tokyo and surrounding area) which allows you to take the Odoriko train direct to Kawazu, where the sakura festival is located.
It's not too late to visit the Kawazu Sakura Festival for 2018, so pack your bags and explore Izu this weekend!