The small agricultural town of Miharu is located in Fukushima prefecture. It inherited the name “Miharu”, meaning “three sources”, from the exceptional flowering of its fruit trees: cherry, plum and peach. The town of 17,000 residents is best known for Miharu Takizakura (三 春 滝 桜), literally “spring waterfall cherry blossoms”, or simply “the most beautiful cherry tree in Japan”.
A thousand-year-old cherry turned national treasure
This ancient tree has been classified as one of the three giant cherries of the Japanese archipelago (日 本 三 巨 大 桜) and among the five largest in Japan (日 本 五 大 桜).
The tree was also designated a national treasure in 1922, a first for any tree! Much appreciated by the Japanese, it is often cited in polls as the number one in the whole country.
It takes its name Takizakura (“cascade cherry”) from the shape of its branches, which when in bloom create a cascade of millions of pale pink petals, akin to a waterfall of blossom.
Modest in height (only 12 metres), it’s the circumference of the trunk (9.5 metres) and the spread of the branches (22 metres) that are so impressive.
A cherry waterfall dominating the hillside
Ideally located halfway up a small hill, visitors can admire the cherry tree from every angle: from the the roots upwards or from the top of the hill downwards.
Miharu Takizakura usually blooms between mid and late April. At its peak, hundreds of thousands of people come to admire the colourful petals.
These visitors represent an important source of revenue for the small municipality, which uses the entrance fee to maintain the tree.
Miharu Takizakura: a symbol of resilience
In 2005, snow almost got the better of the tree: heavy falls weakened some branches and they broke. Thanks to the mobilization of local residents, who cleared the snow and installed beams to support the tree, it held firm.
Then, on 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake shook the Fukushima region but Miharu Takizakura was miraculously undamaged.
The thousand-year-old cherry tree has become a regional symbol of resilience.
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