The last cherry blossoms in Fukushima, April 29, 2018 (会津五桜の最終:猪苗代の大鹿桜 2018年4月29日)

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(Oshika-zakura, Inawashiro, April 29, 2018. 大鹿桜 猪苗代 4/29/2018)
This morning I visited the last one of five traditional cherry trees in Aizu or Aizugozakura. It was called Oshika-zakura located in front of old Iwahashi Shrine established in the year 270 in Inawashiro. The location was about 1-hour walk from JR Inawashiro Station on the foot of Mt. Bandai and the tree looked as shown above. This cherry tree is said to bloom last in cherry blossoms season in Fukushima.

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A brief description board stood at the site as shown above. It said that the root of the tree dated back to the year between 947 and 957, which meant more than 1000 years ago. It was first brought from Kyoto.

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(Oshika-zakura, Inawashiro, April 29, 2018. 大鹿桜 猪苗代 4/29/2018)
The blossoms were double-petaled as shown in the close-up view shown above. It seems to be a rare variety.

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On the way back to Inawashiro Station, I first stopped at Hanitsu Shrine, a historic site where the first lord of Aizu Hoshina Masayuki was enshrined. It was about 10-minute walk from Oshika-zakura. There stood a memorial of the lord with his career and achievements inscribed and a large turtle placed in the bottom as shown above.

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A board at the site shown above described the history and dimension of the stone memorial. It said the largest of its kind in Japan.

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There was a bilingual description board about the shrine as shown above which said the shrine was built in 1675. The shrine was designated as a national important cultural asset.

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Photo above shows the main building of the shrine. The original one was burnt down at the time of Boshin Civil War and the current one was rebuilt in 1880.

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My next stop on the way back was at Kamegajo Castle Site. A description panel at the site shown above said the castle was built in 1191 and was destroyed at Boshin Civil War in 1868.

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No castle building remained today on Honmaru ground which was the center of the site, but it was a nice viewing spot of Mt. Bandai as shown in the picture above.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20180429大鹿桜 (560x420)

Cherry blossoms at Sakuratoge, Kitashiobara, April 27, 2018. (北塩原 の 桜峠 2018年4月27日)

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(Sakuratoge, Kitashiobara, April 27, 2018. 桜峠 北塩原 4/27/2018)
Thousands of cherry trees bloomed all at once in late April, at Sakuratoge slope, Kitashiobara. Photo above was a fantastic view this morning, when I visited the site.

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A brief description of Sakuratoge shown above was found at the site. It said 2001 cherry trees were planted by local volunteers commemorating the birth of their first daughter between Crown Prince and Princess in the year 2001. They had often visited Kitashiobara for rest and refreshment.

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(Sakuratoge, Kitashiobara, April 27, 2018. 桜峠 北塩原 4/27/2018)
Another view with a passage in front is shown above.

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Snow-capped Ide Mountain range was seen far away in a cloudy sky beyond cherry blossoms as shown above.

Some spring flowers were found on the ground as shown below.

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Trillium Apetalon or Enreiso with large leaves was found as shown above.

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Flowers of Anemone pseudoaltaica were found here and there as shown above.

I took a local bus (Toto Bus) from JR Kitakata Station to get to Sakuratoge. The bus stop is called Raviespa Urabandai and it took about 30 minutes.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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Toranoo Cherry Tree in Aizumisato, April 21, 2018. (会津五桜:会津美里の虎の尾桜 2018年4月21日)

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Today, I visited 3rd one of five Aizu traditional cherry tree series. Toranoo Cherry Tree, as shown above, stood right next to Suzumebayashi Kannon Hall of Hoyoji Temple in northern Aizumisato. The tree was in full bloom with whitish blossoms. The Kannon Hall was a traditional one founded in 720 which was one of Aizu 33 Kannon’s designated as a Japan Heritage. (More information in my blog of 2017)

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A brief description about the cherry tree was found at the site as shown above. It said that the name “Toranoo” which meant “tiger tail” in Japanese came from its distinctive feature of the flower as explained below.

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In the close-up view of the flower above, you can find one of the stamens transformed to something looks like a tiger tail. This was a rare variety.

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In the same precinct of Hoyoji Temple I could find a 3-story pagoda as shown above.

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A description on site as shown above said that the pagoda structure dates back to 1780.

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This morning, I took JR trains from Koriyama to get to the nearest station. I got off at Negishi Station of JR Tadami Line and started to walk toward Hoyoji Temple. It was a pleasant walk through spring countryside along old highway called Aizu-Mahoroba Highway as shown above.

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On the way, I first stopped at Nakata Kannon or Koanji Temple as shown above just 10-minute walk from Negishi Station. The kannon was also one of Aizu 33 Kannon’s designated as Japan Heritage.

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Photo above was goshuin red seal of Nakata Kannon which I received this morning.

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Then I continued to walk until I found a large and old cherry tree in the middle of paddy field of Yonezawa hamlet. The tree was called Yonezawa Chitose-zakura as shown above.

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A description on site shown above said that the tree was 700 years old and the blossoms had been a sign of starting rice farming of the season from old days. Actually, local farmers were fertilizing the field today in preparation for starting rice planting.

After I left today’s last stop at Hoyoji Temple I walked to Aizutakada Station and took JR Tadami Line train back to my home. The total walking distance was 9km.

Lastly, I want to introduce the 4th of Aizugozakura, five traditional cherry trees in Aizu. This is called Ishibe-zakura in Aizuwakamatsu as shown in my blog of 2016. The tree blooms earliest among the five Aizugozakura’s. Meanwhile, the last blossoms among the Aizugozakura’s will be from Oshika-zakura in Inawashiro and the forecast of this season’s blossoms is at the end of this month. I will show you then.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20180421虎の尾桜 (560x420)>
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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