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What's on in Spring

春を楽しむ

Spring in Japan is one of the most popular times of year to visit Japan — with Kanagawa Prefecture no exception. The arrival of March brings both warmer weather and the iconic scene of Japan’s cherry blossom, helping entice people out of their winter hibernation and explore Japan’s natural beauty.

Here we explore some of the standout Kanagawa locations, as well as seasonal festivals not to miss this time of the year.

Cherry Blossom in Kanagawa

image: Kamakura City Tourism Association
Kotoku-in
Kotoku-in rarely needs any introduction — the impressive 13.35m-tall Great Buddha (daibutsu) statue makes the temple grounds here a spiritual power spot and a popular destination for visitors to Kanagawa. In spring, the Great Buddha takes on another level of majesty with the iconic view against the cherry blossom, one truly worth cherishing. Those visiting the Kamakura area in the second half of April may be able to catch yabusame (horseback archery) at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine too.


image:Kanagawa Prefecture Tourism Association
Sankeien Garden
This vast, serene Japanese garden in Yokohama will make for a rejuvenating visit, with its pond, flowers and trails whisking you away momentarily from Kanagawa’s busy capital. Besides several historic buildings, including the famed three-storied pagoda, Sankei-en is also known as a popular viewing spot for its plum- and cherry blossoms. With the warmer evenings come extended opening hours and a chance to marvel at the lit-up cherry blossoms.


image:Kanagawa Prefecture Tourism Association
Soga Plum Grove & Umenoen
The main location of the Odawara Plum Festival, Soga Plum Grove invites visitors to witness 35,000 plum trees blossoming in unison. It sprawls three areas including Bessho, Hara and Nakagawara. Those who make it out to Odawara can also catch horseback archery, the Odawara Lantern Dance, and other performances like Shishi-mai and Sho-no-mai.

Those in the coastal region should also consider venturing a little further south to Yugawara’s Makuyama Park to catch its own local Yugawara Plum Festival. Here 4,000 red and white plums bloom to create a carpeted landscape as part of Umenoen, which are also lit-up at night.

For more Kanagawa cherry blossom festivals, consider checking out the Matsuda Cherry Blossom Festival, the Miura Kaigan Sakura Festival, Hakone’s Miyagino Sakura and Sagami’s Sansen Park.

Spring Events in Kanagawa

image: Yokohama Nohgakudo
Noh in Spring
Yokohama’s Nohgakudo will host several events from March, including performances of the Uo-Zekkyo (‘The Fish Sermon’) and Kane-no-ne (‘The Ring of Bells’) as part of the Yokohama Kyogendo program on March 13th. Later on March 22nd, Barrier-Free Noh will see performances of Shimizu (‘A servant for better working conditions’) and Sessho-seki (‘The Killing Stone’).


image: Isehara Tourism Association
Oyama Tofu Festival
Oyama celebrates its own tofu culture each March with its very own Oyama Tofu Festival. As well as getting the chance to buy some local, fresh tofu, visitors to the two-day event can expect to witness a tofu speed-eating contest as well as fresh tofu being prepared in a giant, 4m-wide cauldron. *This is canceled in 2022.


image:JapanTravel.com
Only in Japan: Kanamara Penis Festival
And now for something slightly different. The Kanamara Matsuri (かなまら祭り or ”Festival of the Steel Phallus”) is held every April at Kawasaki’s Kanayama Shrine and, as one of Japan’s more unusual festivals, always reliably draws a huge crowd (pre-Covid, at least). The event celebrates all things genitalia and fertility, and is known for its mikoshi (portable shrine) parade where giant phalluses are toted down the street.

For more things to do, check out this Spring in Kanagawa feature on Tokyo Day Trip.

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