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Photo By: Laura Payne
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Unnan (Shimane)

A town known for its long cherry blossom season.

By Laura Payne

Unnan, located in eastern Shimane Prefecture, is known for its long cherry blossom season. The town is home to at least four varieties of cherry trees that bloom throughout the spring, including pink blossoms and rare green cherry blossoms.

Nationally-renowned views

Unnan, Shimane

Photo by: WikiCommons/Boowytakuya One of the longest cherry blossom tunnels in the region.

The neighborhood of Kisuki is abuzz with activity from late March through early April. During this time of year, hundreds of Somei Yoshino cherry trees (the most famous variety in Japan) bloom along the Hii River, creating a flower tunnel stretching for about two kilometers. This is one of Shimane’s largest cherry blossom tunnels, counted among Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots.

People enjoy Kisuki’s cherry blossom tunnel by having picnics under the trees. Many also walk the length of the tunnel, taking pictures and sampling foods sold at yatai (street food stalls) such as fried chicken and taiyaki (fish-shaped cakes stuffed with sweet red bean paste or other fillings). At night, the tunnel is illuminated by lanterns, offering visitors the chance to experience yozakura (night cherry blossoms).

Kisuki Park, located on top of a nearby mountain, is another popular place to enjoy the cherry blossoms during the day. Climbing to the park’s highest point leads visitors through groves of Somei Yoshino cherry trees before presenting a bird’s eye view of the town and the river below.

Late spring blossoms

Photo by: Laura Payne At Unnan, you can find other late-blooming varieties of cherry blossoms, like Yaezakura.

After the Somei Yoshino blossoms bloom passes, other varieties of cherry blossoms appear from about mid to late April. The most famous is the gyoiko variety (trees that sprout green and white flowers) located in Mitoya Riverside Park.

Gyoiko are a somewhat rare variety of cherry blossoms, and the Mitoya neighborhood takes such pride in them that local taiko drum groups play songs inspired by their beauty. One must look carefully to find gyoiko in bloom because their green hues can trick people into assuming they are leaves at first glance. Those who find them, however, are rewarded with the sight of blossoms that bloom in few other places.

Like earlier in the spring, people enjoy gyoiko by having picnics near the trees. Walking through Mitoya Riverside Park is also an everyday activity because visitors can find other late-blooming varieties of cherry blossoms, such as yaezakura (pink flowers with double the number of petals of those that bloom earlier in spring).

Things To Know

Cherry Blossom Season

The exact time of the cherry blossoms’ full bloom changes each year. To predict the dates of full bloom for Somei Yoshino blossoms, it is usually best to check Japan’s national cherry blossom forecast. Late-blooming varieties such as gyoiko usually bloom one to two weeks after the full bloom of Somei Yoshino blossoms.

When enjoying cherry blossoms in Japan, please do not pick the blossoms from the trees. Also, trash cans can be sparse in Unnan’s public places, so please be prepared to carry trash home with you if none are available.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Take a local train from Matsue or Izumo station to Shinji station. Transfer to the Kisuki Line here, and alight at Kisuki station. The Kisuki cherry blossom tunnel and Mitoya Riverside Park are within walking distance of this station.

By bus

Unnan is about a 30-minute drive from Izumo city and about a 30-50-minute drive from Matsue (depending on if one takes toll roads). Temporary parking lots are set up for visitors in Kisuki and Mitoya during cherry blossom season. Signs posted in both neighborhoods guide drivers to the parking lots (these may be in Japanese).


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