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Hirosaki: Approaching Full Bloom

Hirosaki Castle hidden behind cherry blossoms

With the cherry blossom season underway in the northern Tohoku Region, we move our reporting there to check out the state of the blossoms. Aomori City reached full bloom today, but the season has yet to reach its peak at Hirosaki where I was today. I visited Hirosaki Castle in Aomori Prefecture. The castle keep lies in Hirosaki Park, one of Japan's best cherry blossom spots. There are about 2600 cherry trees of different varieties in the park, creating a slightly longer sakura blossom viewing season than the average spot.

The commonly seen mainstream Somei Yoshino cherry trees that I saw at Hirosaki Park today were at various stages of bloom. The trees along the outer moat were approaching full bloom and I expect them to reach their peak in the next day or two. The cherry tree tunnel on the west side of the park were just opening and with sunny weather forecast for the next few days, I expect them to reach full bloom by the end of the week. In the park, I found the weeping cherry trees to be at full bloom, while the later blooming weeping cherry trees were still mostly in buds. Overall, I expect this weekend to be a good time to visit Hirosaki Park to see the sakura blossoms in all their fluffy glory.

During the cherry blossom season, the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival typically runs from April 23 to May 5. This year, due to the flowers blossoming earlier, the festival has already begun and will continue until May 5 as usual. I saw lots of festival food and game stalls in the park, visitors picnicking under cherry trees when I was there today. While the park is free to enter, the area around the castle keep has an admission fee of 310 yen. The trees in the park are also illuminated from 18:30 t0 22:00 during the festival period.

Hirosaki Park is easily accessed from Hirosaki Station by frequently departing buses from the station. The one way journey costs 100 yen and takes about ten minutes depending on traffic.

Cherry trees along the outer moat
Not too long before the blossoms here reach full bloom
View of Mount Iwaki and the outer moat from the rooftop observation deck at the city hall
Weeping cherry tree and the Otemon Gate
Lanterns and cherry trees
You will see lots of these pushcarts selling apple flavoured ice cream in the park
Food stalls
One of the numerous red bridges in Hirosaki Park
The castle used to be in that corner, but it got moved 70 meters for restoration works to be done on the foundation stones
Lots of weeping cherry trees in the castle keep area
Weeping cherry tree, Hirosaki Castle, temporary viewing deck
Work going on the foundation
Weeping cherry tree in full bloom
Picnicking (or in his case, sleeping) near the castle keep
Trees in bloom
Blossoms in the sakura tunnel on the west side
A bit more before this becomes all white
Row boats available for hire, 1000 yen for 60 minutes
Sakura trees line the banks
The right side is more advanced than the left
More festival stalls in the northern part of the park
There was a performance going on when I was there
I expect it to be even more crowded over the weekend
Tiny weeping cherry tree flowers just opening
The San-no-maru area filled with cherry trees of different varieties
Elderly couple taking a break
Somei Yoshino blossoms
Not too long before these trees reach their peak