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Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report

Continuing with the northern Tohoku Region, I went to Hirosaki City in Aomori Prefecture today to check out Hirosaki Castle. The castle park bills itself as one of the top cherry blossom spots, and it doesn't disappoint at all. With great weather forecast for this weekend, I expect the Hirosaki Castle grounds to be perfect for cherry blossom viewing (hanami) if you are in the area.

As I mentioned yesterday, Hakodate in Hokkaido reported the opening of its first blossoms (kaika). Today , kaika was reported in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, eleven days earlier than the average year.

Hirosaki Castle
April 21, 2015 - full bloom (Somei Yoshino)
April 21, 2015 - full bloom (weeping cherry trees)
April 21, 2015 - still closed (later flowering weeping cherry trees)

Hirosaki Castle is about a 30 minute walk from Hirosaki Station, or a ten minute bus ride (100 yen one way, regular departures) from the station. I made my way to the castle from the station and stopped by Hirosaki City Hall before entering the castle park. The roof of the city hall is open to the public from 9:00 to 17:00 (admission ends at 16:30) until May 6, and offers views of the cherry trees along the outer moat, and of Mount Iwaki (locally known as Tsugaru-Fuji due to its resemblance to Mount Fuji) on clear days.

Thanks to the great weather, I had great views of the mountain and of the cherry blossoms from the roof. The cherry trees along the outer moat were at full bloom (mankai) and there were lots of people appreciating the blossoms.

Moving on into the castle park, I found the weeping cherry trees to be at full bloom, while the later blooming weeping cherry blossoms were still mostly in their buds and would probably open over the next few days. The Somei Yoshino cherry trees, the most numerous and common cherry tree in Japan, within the park were still a day away from reaching mankai.

One of the main attractions in the castle park is the castle keep, which is currently being prepared to be moved about 70 meters away from the moat so that the keep's foundation and stone walls can be renovated. The moat had already been drained of water, and for this cherry blossom season only, visitors to the castle park can walk in the part of the moat, from April 23 to May 6, before it is closed off for renovations. Unfortunately for me, I was a day too early and could only watch the ceremonial practice and special guests in the moat.

The Hirosaki Sakura Festival officially starts tomorrow, April 23 to May 6, but due to the cherry blossoms opening earlier than expected, the festival started five days earlier and all the festival game and foods stalls were open when I was there earlier. The festivities should be in full swing from tomorrow, and you should definitely drop by for a visit if you are in the area.

View from the roof of the city hall, Mount Iwaki in the background and cherry trees along the outer moat
Absolutely gorgeous weather today
Walking in the castle grounds
Yaebeni Shidare, a later blooming cherry tree variety
Crossing one of the red bridges in the castle grounds
Castle keep and the drained moat beside it
Performing in the moat
A 101-year-old Hirosaki weeping cherry tree
View of part of the Honmaru from the top of the keep, Mount Iwaki in the background
Cherry trees in the Honmaru on the left and the drained moat on the right
This view of the trees and Mount Iwaki was very popular
Close up of some weeping cherry blossoms
Beni-shidare cherry trees in the foreground and Yaebeni Shidare cherry trees at the back
Another red bridge across the western moat
Cherry tree lined moat and people in paddle boats
Walking along the sakura tunnel
Japan's oldest Somei Yoshino cherry tree at 133 years old
Close up of blossoms on the oldest tree, 50-80 percent opened
Japan's widest Somei Yoshino cherry tree
Festival food stalls
This food stall caught my eyes
Cherry trees at full bloom along the outer moat
Blossoms at full bloom along the outer moat
Blossoms everywhere

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List of Posts:
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival
2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report