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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogMorioka Is Home to the Amazing Stone-Splitting Cherry Tree!

Morioka Is Home to the Amazing Stone-Splitting Cherry Tree!

Devon Lord-MoncriefDevon Lord-Moncrief
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March 19, 2024
The Stone Splitting Cherry Tree (Ishiwarizakura) in Morioka.

Japan has many amazing things to see and visit, from its gorgeous natural beauty to its bustling cities. But of all the beautiful things Japan is home to, few are as unique and impressive as the Ishiwarizakura or the Stone-Splitting Cherry Tree in Morioka.

For those unfamiliar with this fantastic natural phenomenon, this extraordinary cherry tree is one of Japan’s most famous trees worth seeing. An important local landmark and popular tourist attraction, the stone-splitting cherry tree cannot be missed during your next trip to Japan.

Where is Morioka?

Morioka is the capital city of Iwate prefecture located in the Tohoku region of Japan. The Tohoku region is north of Tokyo and comprises much of Japan’s northern areas. Located within Morika are the Kitakami, the Shizukuishi, and the Nakatsu rivers, with Mount Iwate northwest of the city.

The Stone Splitting Cherry Tree in Morioka.
It’s one of the first cherry trees to grow in the spring. Image via Diversity Finder

With green fields, lush rivers, and impressive mountains, Morioka is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. But for those interested in visiting its particular tree, springtime is the best time to make your trip.

What is the legend of the stone-splitting cherry tree?

As the story goes, there once was a simple stone cutter. The man was so taken by the beauty of blooming sakura trees that he wished to become one. Amazingly, his wish came true, and he became a sakura tree. The man’s spirit was so great that he could still split stones, even in the form of a tree. According to legend, the relationship between the human spirit and the beauty of the sakura trees is so great that they can rip stones apart easily.

A large cherry tree in Morioka.
This tree grows through a cracked granite boulder. Image via Wikimedia

Today, the tree is almost 400 years old, giving it significant importance. It has survived centuries of development and weather, making it an unusually resilient tree. Like the trees that grow by the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Morioka cherry tree has become revered in its old age. Therefore, large amounts of care are given to it to ensure its health and survival. Finding a piece of nature that has persevered for many centuries is lovely in a world of rapid urban development.

Are you looking for some fantastic snacks while checking out legendary cherry trees? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers the best Japanese snacks, drinks, sweets, and noodles straight from Japan to your door so you can have fun at home!

How can I get to the tree?

The Stone-Splitting Cherry Tree is easy to visit for both new visitors and those who live in Japan. For those traveling by train, the tree is only a fifteen-minute walk from the JR Morioka line. Morioka Station serves as a junction for the Akita Shinkansen and Tohoku Shinkansen. Local JR East services include the Tohoku Main Line, Tazawako Line, and Yamada Line, making it a very accessible station for travelers. Morioka is far north of Tokyo, so plan ahead for this trip!

A large cherry tree in Morioka.
This tree is 360 years old. Image via Journey to Trees

Located in front of the Morioka District Courthouse, the tree is very easily accessible for all who come to visit it on foot. Visitors can also swing by Marufuji, a classic confectionary shop that makes excellent cream cracker sandwiches. Many other local souvenir shops in Morioka sell items related to the tree. For those looking for a good day trip, taking a train up to Morioka, visiting the cherry tree, and enjoying a good lunch is the perfect choice. 

Why is the stone-splitting cherry tree in Morioka important?

The Ishiwarizakura was designated a national treasure in Japan in 1923, making it memorable. The very idea of the tree – a cherry tree that grew out of a solid granite boulder – is fascinating. Most trees, let alone those as small as sakura, cannot customarily split rocks in half.

Not only did the tree grow out of the boulder, but its 4.3-meter circumference was so great that it split the boulder in two. The tree has gained much love and attention from the people of Japan. This is because they view the cherry tree as a significant spiritual landmark.  

The Ishiwarizakura in Morioka.
Have you ever visited this tree in Morioka before? Image via Pantip

Sakura is a deeply important and ancient tradition in Japan, so the marriage of sakura and such a unique natural occurrence makes the cherry tree very important to the people of Morioka. It is a symbol of beauty and strength. Moreover, it represents how the human spirit can become one with nature and perform astounding acts of strength. Finally, it’s a gorgeous tree and serves as a reminder of nature’s beauty.

Have you seen the stones-splitting cherry tree before? If so, when did you go? Was the tree as beautiful in person as it is in pictures? Please let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear about your trip to gorgeous Morioka!

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