|Walking time||1.5 hours|
|Terrain||flat, paved roads|
|Best season:||early through mid-April|
Spring in Uenomura Village brings cherry blossoms and bright green new leaves to the trees. There are many small roads through the village that are great for walking. With few cars to bother you, this path follows two rivers and takes you to hidden shrines, nature-filled views, and spots for local cuisine. The route is a loop, 6 km (3.5 miles) around, and relatively flat. It should take about an hour and a half, plus stops.
The best time to see the cherry blossoms along the route is early April. Peak bloom often falls around the 10th of the month. The year we went everything bloomed early, reaching their most beautiful around April 1st.
Here’s a map of the route:
- Villa Seseragi
- Hozoji Temple
- Noguri Shrine
- Ryujin Falls
Starting Point: Villa Seseragi
The starting point for this route is the parking lot behind a hotel called Villa Seseragi. Parking on the riverbank is free and there is plenty of space. Public restrooms are available in a little hut separate from the hotel. This is a great spot to check out the Kanna River and dip your toes in if you’d like.
Cherry blossoms all around Villa Seseragi welcomed us as we started our walk. We walked back up to the main road, turned right across a pedestrian bridge, and right again to head down a small road that follows the Noguri River. This narrow road stretches through a small neighborhood with residents who have lived here for generations. Cars drive down the road every once in a while, so take care while you’re walking.
|Address||684-1 Katsuyama, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1613|
|Parking available behind the building, by the river|
Public restrooms available
After a few minutes and several photo ops, we reached Hozoji Temple. We turned left up a small incline to the ornate wooden gate to the shrine. A large weeping cherry tree stood watch over the building.
|Address||1222 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
We returned to the road and continued in the same direction until it was time to turn left up to another shrine. The building itself was small and unimposing, but when we continued past it, we came to a whole row of flowering trees, cherry on the left and some early peach blossoms on the right. There was also a nice view of the village along the hill.
|Address||988 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
Doubling back from the shrine and continuing along the same riverside road, we came to Noguri Campground, and beyond it, Ryujin Falls. (Note: the campground is currently closed to campers, but visitors are welcome to pass through it to get to the falls.) Cherry blossoms line the campground and the path down to Ryujin Falls. In March, small yellow flowers bloom in the grass beneath the cherry trees. On a good year, the blooming times overlap and you can enjoy the combination of yellow below and pink above.
|Address||831 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
After taking in the waterfall, we headed back along the same road. Just past Hozoji Shrine, we turned left onto a bridge across the river, and proceeded down that road, past Nippa Shrine—easy to spot with its white torii gate.
|Address||540 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
Lunch at Yamazato
The road continued along the Kanna River, past fields, forests, houses and graveyards. After about a kilometer and a half, we ended up at the main road, and crossed it to get to Yamazato noodle shop. Our lunch was hand-cut udon noodles and tempura made from wild mountain veggies and herbs. Yum!
|Address||56-1 Nippa, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1611|
|Hours||Sat – Mon: 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM|
Wed – Thu 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
|Occasional early closures—it’s best to call ahead.|
Full Circle: Villa Seseragi
With our bellies full, we crossed the main street again and turned left to follow a riverside sidewalk back to Villa Seseragi. Another 15 minutes of walking led us back to the parking lot.
Overall it was a really pretty walk through old-timey Japanese neighborhoods along rivers and forest. We got to breathe in fresh spring air and observe country life right from the heart of it, with flowers to enjoy at every turn. An excellent relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon.
Other Must-see Blossom Spots
In addition to the above route, Uenomura has a few other great places for cherry blossom viewing.
The weeping cherry tree at Chushoji Temple is over 500 hundred years old. It towers above the hilltop temple, a dazzling sight to see. When it blooms, lights are set up to illuminate the tree at night too.
|Address||146 Ōaza Narahara, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1617|
146 Ōaza Narahara, Ueno, Tano District, Gunma 370-1617
There’s a spot along Route 299 just west of Narahara Tunnel, where a whole grove of weeping cherry trees bloom. It’s a great photo op!
Note you’ll have to stop your car along the side of the road since there’s no parking. Be careful of passing cars when pulling over.
Here’s a pin of the approximate location:
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