Mountains of Blossoms – Part Three: Alps Park

Nature / Seasonal Topics / Sightseeing / Outdoor Activities
Mon, May 6, 2019
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Just because the cherry blossoms down around the castle have dropped their petals doesn’t mean Matsumoto’s sakura season is over. Up in the hills hanami is still in full swing – at least for a bit longer – and making the trip up to Alps Park, north by northwest of downtown Matsumoto, is a great place to catch some late blossoms.

In Japan, where a swath of dirt with a rusty bench and a creaky swing set from the Showa Era can pass as a park, one might not be willing to trek through town and up into the hills without knowing what ‘Alps Park’ actually looks like. But this is one ‘Koen’ worth visiting, particularly in the Spring.

Upon entering Alps Park – from any of the several entrances – you’ll be greeted not with neat rows of cherry blossom trees of modest height but by a seemingly natural dispersion of towering flowering specimens. (To be quite honest I can’t even say for sure these are all true cherry blossoms but they are certainly awe-inspiring so I don’t care much what they’re really called.)

You may be tempted to claim a spot under the first cluster of blossoming trees you see, but take some time to take in the many faces of Alps Park – from the tidy landscapes…

…to the wide open fields…

…to the playground…

…to the zoo (just past this sign)…

…and along the many winding paths criss-crossing this sprawling mountaintop garden.

West of the park, on the far side of the Fuchu Plains, stand the peaks of the Northern Alps. Check out the view from the grass…

… or from the nature center tower – admission is free!

There are eye-catching vistas of the mountains to the east as well.

 

And smack dab in the middle of it all you’ll find a grove of cherry blossom trees that is about as close to perfection as you will ever find.

Even when cherry blossom season is long gone, Alps Park has plenty to offer – for adults, for kids, and for adults who think they’re still kids.

So if you’ve come to Matsumoto hoping to catch the blossoms down around the castle in full flower, only to find you’re too late, head for Alps Park – by taxi, by bicycle, or even on foot if you can spare the time and handle the hills. You might end up thinking your timing was actually perfect.

Alps Park is free and open to the public year-round.