|Schauwecker's Japan Travel Blog|
by Stefan Schauwecker, webmaster of japan-guide.com
This blog is intended to record some of my travel activities in Japan.
2010/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
April 5, 2010 - opening (10-50%)
The city's fame is its castle, one of twelve castles in Japan that survived the post-feudal era (since 1868) without being destroyed, and one of only four castles that have been designated national treasures. The other three are Himejijo, Matsumotojo and Inuyamajo.
Although its keep is with three stories rather small (large castle keeps typically have five stories), Hikonejo is a fine example of a relatively complete hilltop castle with multiple citadels, moats, turrets, impressive walls and a partially restored palace building. I would recommend it as an alternative castle destination during the upcoming 4-year renovation of Himeji Castle.
Hundreds of cherry trees are planted around the grounds and along the moats of Hikone Castle, creating impressive sights and providing a few nice spots for hanami picnics. Among the nicest spots are the tree lined moats and the park areas in the Kanenomaru citadel along the approach to the castle keep and the Nishinomaru citadel directly behind the keep.
Genkyuen, the beautiful Japanese garden at the eastern base of the castle, on the other hand, features almost no cherry trees, but should still not be missed when visiting Hikone.
Hikone's cherry blossoms follow a blooming schedule that is surprisingly delayed compared to nearby Kyoto. The trees were reported to have opened only four days ago on April 1, and today were in general around the 20-30 percent mark. Full bloom should be reached around the weekend.