Because Nagano is situated within the Japanese Alps, spring comes a bit later than around Kanto, so you can enjoy various blossoms after they have passed in Tokyo. Aside from cherry blossoms, peach and apricot blossoms are a wonderful, colorful sight in Nagano.
The colors of peach blossoms range from white to various shades of pink and some are even red. Apricot trees mostly bloom in white or pink. Fortunately, in Nagano there are a myriad of colors. Unfortunately, to access the best viewing peach and apricot blossom sites we recommend going by car. But don’t let that dissuade you — renting a car is a simple process and many train stations have rental car agencies near them. Or you can go by public transport and take a taxi for the last leg of the route.
Peach trees bloom closer to Golden Week in Nagano because of the cooler climate and the fact they are situated at a higher altitude. They mostly bloom from the end of April and last through Golden Week. What more could you ask for in a spring getaway?
The apricot trees bloom earlier than the peach ones. They start from late March, usually lasting to the middle of April. There are clusters of these trees up in northern Nagano. The apricot trees are also easier to access for those without a car.
Here are Nagano’s best peach and apricot blossoms areas.
Achi’s number one claim to fame is its starry skies. Just behind that is its peach blossoms. A little more than 100 years ago, Achi Village had none of these trees, but then in 1922 the first peach trees came over from Germany and a local planted them. Steadily the numbers grew and now the village has about 10,000 peach trees. Route 256, called the Peach Tree Strip (Hanamomo Kaido) alone has approximately 5,000 trees. Along that road, there are at least six viewing spots you can stop at.
If a car is not an option, Achi is accessible by a ten-minute taxi ride or a thirty-minute bus ride from Iida Station.
Further north along the Iida Line tracks or the Chuo Expressway is another small village called Minowa. Many people consider this hamlet one of the best places in Nagano to see fall foliage. In the spring the trees are equally spectacular, but it is the peach blossoms that truly steal the show.
Just outside the town, up near the mountains, runs the Hanamomo Kaido (Peach Blossom Strip), of course lined with peach trees. It shares the same name as the route in Achi, but it’s a different road. The most picturesque spot for seeing the blossoms in Minowa is Shinshu Ina Baien garden.
If a car is not an option, you can take a taxi from Kinoshita Station. It takes about ten minutes to the Shinshu Ina Baien.
While Achi and Minowa are in southern Nagano, Ueda is a city in the east of the prefecture. Ueda’s castle has a famous history, being the only castle to repel Tokugawa twice. History buffs have a reason to visit regardless of season, while nature lovers shouldn’t miss peach blossom season. In Ueda City, peach trees bloom as early as the middle of April, but in the surrounding villages, the schedule is similar to Achi and Minowa.
Ueda is one place where you can actually get off the train and see the blossoms immediately. There is a cluster of trees downtown at the Michi-no-eki (roadside station).
However, for more peach blossom viewing head out by car to the nearby villages of Nagawa (28 minutes from the station) and Takeshiyori (30 minutes from the station). Both are along Route 152. To go to Ueda by public transport, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station.
Anzu no Sato
Slightly south of Nagano City, you can find Chikuma City. Known for great produce overall, Chikuma has Japan’s largest apricot agricultural zone with over 100,000 trees. This has earned it the name of Anzu no Sato (Apricot Village) and the city holds the Apricot Blossom Festival from the end of March to the middle of April.
To access Anzu no Sato, from Nagano Station take the Shinano Line to Yashiro Station. On weekends you can take a shuttle bus for just ¥500. On weekdays, take a 10-minute taxi ride from the station.
Matsushiro Castle Town
This little castle town in Nagano is named after its former fortification that is mostly gone, but there are outer walls and gates remaining at Matsushiro Castle Ruins. Like most castle grounds, there are plenty of cherry blossom trees here. However, if apricot blossoms are what you’re after, head to the Matsushiro Higashijo area of the town. There is a field of apricot trees, blooming against a backdrop of the snow-capped Japanese Alps. This small farm is the site of an Apricot Blossom Festival in early April and is open to all visitors.
Matsushiro is just a 30-minute bus ride from Nagano Station.