Admire the seasonal beauty of this castle park with its sea of springtime cherry blossom petals, vibrant autumnal colours and winter views of Hirosaki Castle blanketed in snow
Forming the grounds of Hirosaki Castle, Hirosaki Park is nationally recognised as one of Japan’s top three cherry blossom viewing locations. The park is home to 50 varieties of cherry blossoms, over 2,600 trees in all. Large numbers of domestic and international visitors come to the park’s famous cherry blossom viewing festival, the “Hirosaki Sakura Festival“, held from late April to early May. A rickshaw ride is the smart way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the vast grounds of this castle park.
The view of the rows of cherry blossom trees along either side of the outer moat reflecting on the water is exceptionally beautiful. Hirosaki Park is also known for its graceful views of cherry blossom petals scattered on the surrounding waters. The view of the “Sakura Carpet” of cherry blossom petals covering the water surface of the outer moat is known as “Hanaikada”. This view has received a great deal of popularity since being recognised as a “once-in-a-lifetime scenic view” thanks to its popular Facebook page. The illuminated view of cherry blossom trees at night is fantastic. Enjoy the elegance of Hirosaki Castle in combination with the park’s gorgeous cherry blossoms!
Along with the Hirosaki Sakura Festival each spring, other festivals taking place here include the Autumn Leaves Festival and Chrysanthemum Festival in autumn and the Snow Lantern Festival in winter. Hirosaki Park is the perfect place to enjoy a variety of seasonal beauty. From brilliant chrysanthemum figures and vibrant autumnal colours to the graceful views of the castle blanketed in snow and magical scenes of illuminated snow huts in winter, the park is waiting for you!
A number of other popular attractions are nearby including Tsugaru-han Neputa Village, a local culture museum with a market area of traditional arts and crafts, Fujita Memorial Garden, a Western style residence in beautiful contrast to its Japanese garden, and when you are ready for a break there is even a popular local branch of Starbucks located in an officially recognised Tangible Cultural Property. Be sure to combine your visit to Hirosaki Park with a trip to these attractions!
The chalk-white walls of Japan’s northernmost remaining castle provide the perfect contrast for picturesque scenes of blue skies, cherry blossoms and pure white blankets of snow
Located in Hirosaki (Oyo) Park, Hirosaki Castle is the northernmost remaining castle tower in Japan and is designated an Important Cultural Property. Along with the castle tower, the castle gates, bridges and moats are well preserved allowing visitors to travel back in time to the Edo Period. As one of Japan’s few remaining major castles it is a popular destination for people wanting to enjoy its historic beauty.
Particular highlights include the castle tower, five castle gates and three watchtowers. The vermillion Gejo Bridge is the ideal location for photos of the majestic castle. The black and white castle tower stands in stunning contrast with the bright vermillion bridge. Be sure to look out for the Shachihoko (a tiger-headed carp from Japanese folklore) on the roof of the three-storey castle keep. A rickshaw ride is the smart way to enjoy the scenic beauty of the vast grounds of this castle park.
The park is home to 50 varieties of cherry blossoms, over 2,600 trees in all. Their origin dates back to 1715 when the Tsugaru clan ordered 25 cherry blossom trees from Kyoto and planted them in the grounds of Hirosaki Castle. Don’t miss the breath-taking views known as ““Hanaikada” of the “Sakura Carpet” of cherry blossom petals floating on or covering the water surface of the outer moat!
Two million domestic and international visitors come to one of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom viewing festivals, the “Hirosaki Sakura Festival “ taking place in Hirosaki Park from late April to early May. Along with the Sakura Festival each spring, other festivals taking place here include the Autumn Leaves Festival and Chrysanthemum Festival in autumn and the Snow Lantern Festival in winter. Hirosaki Park is the perfect place to enjoy a variety of seasonal beauty. From brilliant chrysanthemum figures and vibrant autumnal colours to the graceful views of the castle blanketed in snow and magical scenes of illuminated snow huts in winter, the park is waiting for you!
A number of other popular attractions are nearby including Tsugaru-han Neputa Village, a local culture museum with a market area of traditional arts and crafts, Fujita Memorial Garden, a Western style residence in beautiful contrast to its Japanese garden, and when you are ready for a break there is even a popular local branch of Starbucks located in an officially recognised Tangible Cultural Property. Be sure to combine your visit to Hirosaki Castle with a trip to these attractions!
The city centre of Hirosaki in Aomori prefecture is home to over 50 cafes and shops offering a range of local apple pies. Explore this city of apples with the help of the guide to Hirosaki’s apple pies available from the city’s information centre! Each café and shop has its own unique recipe. Come and discover your favourite apple pie with the perfect balance of sweet, sharp, cinnamon flavours!"
Morioka Castle Ruins Park (Iwate Park)
The well-preserved stone walls are a must see. Enjoy year-round seasonal beauty in this castle ruins park!
When constructed in 1597 the castle was originally known as Kozukata Castle. It was the residence of the local feudal lords until 1874 when most of the buildings were demolished. Fortunately the stone walls remain in their original form and the castle grounds were preserved as a park in 1906.
Today the park is known as Morioka Castle Ruins Park and is a popular place for relaxation and recreation for locals. It is also recognised as one of Japan’s 100 best historical parks.
Many people come to the park during the springtime Sakura Festival. The view of cherry blossoms is enchanting when illuminated by paper lanterns at night. The park attracts visitors throughout the year with its seasonal beauty. Tsurugaike Pond is gracefully decorated with blooming wisteria trellises in May and hydrangeas in July. Scarlet maple leaves and vivid yellow gingko leaves are gorgeous in contrast with the castle’s stone walls in autumn. A large number of miniature snow huts create fascinating scenes when candlelit during Morioka Yukiakari Festival in winter.
The park is also home to monuments of some of the great names in literature including Takuboku Ishikawa, Kenji Miyazawa and Inazo Nitobe. Some of the works of each are inscribed on the monuments.
Dinner : The Three Great Noodles Of Morioka1 night stay at Morioka city
The Three Great Noodles of Morioka (Wanko Soba, Morioka Reimen and Morioka Jajamen)
Wanko Soba is a small bowl of buckwheat noodles served in an all-you-can-eat style and repeatedly topped-up by waitresses cheering customers with chants of “Hai jan jan! Hai don don!” Morioka Reimen consists of chewy cold noodles in a rich beef broth while Morioka Jajamen is a dish of flat noodles topped with spicy meat sauce, finely shredded cucumber and grated ginger to be mixed before eating. These noodle dishes are known as the Three Great Noodles of Morioka.
Get spiritual at Japan’s deepest lake with mysterious cobalt blue water!
The lake has a maximum depth of 423.4m making it the deepest in Japan. The water changes colour from sky blue to turquoise and indigo as the water gets deeper. Visitors can view this amazing spectacle for themselves via a range of available boating options including pleasure boats, pedal boats, canoes, kayaks and “SUP” (Stand Up Paddle boards). Cycling, trekking or driving around the circumference of the lake is recommended as the colour of the water also changes depending on the angle of view.
A golden statue of Tatsuko stands against the majestic water and is a popular symbol of Lake Tazawa. Legend has it that Tatsuko was a girl who wished for eternal beauty but instead turned into a dragon and threw herself into the lake. The legend goes on to say that Tatsuko and Hachiro-Taro, another dragon from Lake Hachirogata became lovers and lived together in Lake Tazawa. Locals say that the presence of these dragons prevent Lake Tazawa from freezing over in winter and that the lake becomes deeper because of their love while Lake Hachirogata became shallower over the years following the departure of its guardian.
Other statues related to the legend of Tatsuko include Tatsuko Kannon on the eastern shore of the lake, Princess Kannon on the north shore of the lake and the statue of Princess Tatsuko in Gozanoishi Shrine. Ukiki Shrine standing next to the golden statue of Tatsuko is a sacred location for matchmaking. Gozanoishi Shrine enshrining Takko Hime-no-Kami (dragon goddess of the lake) is known for its blessing of beauty and the shrine’s red gateway is a popular photography location.
Kakunodate Samurai District
Travel back in time to the Edo period in the “Little Kyoto of Tohoku”!
Though some of them are still functioning homes, the residences are open to the public so visitors can get a feel for the traditional samurai life. Tourists can travel back in time to the Edo period by strolling around the traditional streets in an antique Kimono from one of the rental stores in town! A rickshaw ride from the Kakunodate Denshokan Museum will enhance the experience.
The town is charming throughout the year with springtime cherry blossoms, verdant summer greens, colourful autumn leaves and snowy winter scenes. Springtime is particularly popular with people coming for cherry blossom viewing from late April to early May. The traditional district features a row of weeping cherry blossom trees whose pink flowers bloom in beautiful contrast with the black walls of samurai residences, 162 of the 400 weeping cherry trees are designated natural treasures.
The samurai district is a 15 to 20-minute walk from JR Kakunodate station. Be sure to pick up the handy map and brochures available at the tourist information centre, located in a building resembling a traditional storehouse in front of the station!
Japanese gardens rich in history and seasonal beauty
Built on the site of the town’s former castle ruins, Senshu Park is now home to beautiful Japanese gardens in the centre of Akita city. The park fascinates visitors with scenic seasonal images throughout the year. From mid to late April each year 730 cherry blossom trees are in bloom and the park has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 best cherry-blossom viewing locations. Other enchanting spectacles offered by the gardens include blooming azalea shrubs framing Kogetsu Pond from mid to late May, lotus flowers floating on the water of Otemon moat in late July, scarlet autumn leaves and snowy winter scenes.
The park is of historic significance as the site of Kubota Castle which was the residence of the Satake clan for 267 years from 1602. Visitors can still view the guardhouse built in the 1700s along with reconstructed buildings such as a watchtower and the front gate of the castle. The Satake Historical Museum at the southern end of the park contains displays of valuable historical documents as well as antique arms and armour.
Other historic locations in the park include Yojiro Inari Shrine with a series of photogenic vermillion gateways and Hachiman Akita Shrine whose dove-shaped fortune papers are popular with visitors. A 10-minute walk from Akita station takes visitors to this oasis in the city centre. Come for your chance of meeting Akita dogs and enjoying the rose-shaped ice cream unique to Akita!
Dinner : Kiritanpo nabe1 night stay at Akita city
Kiritampo Hot Pot
Kiritampo is a signature specialty of Akita consisting of mashed rice wrapped around a cedar skewer which is then grilled and cut into pieces to use in a variety of local dishes. Akita’s popular winter warmer is a hot pot with Kiritampo cooked in a rich broth of the popular local Hinaidori chicken, recognised as one of Japan’s three best breeds of chicken. Kiritampo soaked in the flavoursome soup is especially delicious thanks to its juicy and chewy texture absorbing the flavours of ingredients such as leek, Japanese parsley and Hinaidori chicken. Kiritampo Hot Pot