Through a Tunnel of Cherry Blossoms (updated 1/31/2020)
The sight of one thousand cherry trees in full bloom is, to put it simply, breathtaking.
Cherry season occurs between the end of March and the beginning of April. In Unnan City, which located in the central Shimane, there are approximately fifty thousand of cherry trees. A row of cherry trees along the Hii River’s bank has been chosen as one of the best 100 cherry-blossom viewing-locations in Japan, when spring comes the town is dyed a tender pink by the cherry blossoms.
History of cherry blossoms loved by inhabitants
There is a long history between the cherry trees and the inhabitants who love them.
In the 1920s, local elementary school children planted cherry trees and took a good care of them.
However, during the World War Ⅱ, cherry trees faced a crisis as the military ordered they be cut down to make charcoal and firewood to be sent to battle-fields. The people loved the trees so much the mayor refused to follow the order and did his best to protect them.
Next, it was floods that threatened the trees. The cherry trees are plant in a row on an embankment on the Hii River. The river used to be feared by people as it often overflowed, and had severely damaged villages many times. People referred to these terrible floods, or the river itself, as a huge eight-headed and eight-tailed serpent called ‘Yamata-no-orochi’, which is said to live in the river and cause suffering according to ancient Japanese mythology.
A concrete embankment to prevent overflowing was built, but roads were paved over paths of land where the roots of trees lay and, they were badly damaged as a result. In addition, so many tourists came and walked along the trees that the soil became hard, and made it difficult for the roots to grow.
Even though cherry trees have gone through such difficulties, now between sixty to seventy percents of the trees are between eighty to ninety years old. Specialists, called ‘Sakuramori’, who literally take care of the trees throughout the year keep them well maintained and make them show their best, especially in the spring.
Cherry blossom with yellow-green flowers
This unfamiliar-colored cherry blossom is called ‘Gyoiko‘, which is one of the most rare species of cherry.
From a distance, you may think flowers as leaves, however, they are flowers, and green. The blooming season of this interesting cherries comes after ordinal pink cherries; the latter half of April.
Recommended cherry blossom viewing spots here
During the blooming season, cherry trees are lit up in the night. It is recommended to take a walk through the tunnel in the lights of lanterns.
Recommended cherry tree spots
Hi River Bank [map]
Access : 10 min-walk from JR Kisuki Sta.
Mitoya River Bank [map]
Access : From JR Kisuki Sta. 10 min by bus to Mitoya Sta. then 5 min-walk
[⇒Search route and timetable of on JR WEST (*Please fill in ”kisuki” as your destination station.)]
Cherry blossom Festival in Unnan City
Date : end of March ~ beginning of April *tba
Main Venue : Hii River bank in Kisuki -cho
*Trees are illuminated at night during the term.
Date of the main event : April 4 (sat), 5 (sun) *tba
Several events take place around the site, and visitors can enjoy local specialties.
4th (Sat.) – Performance of traditional arts (10:00~)*tba
– Display of fireworks (20:00~20:30)*tba
5th (Sun.) – Performance of traditional arts (10:00~)*tba
– Japanese style tea ceremony (10:00~16:00)*tba