Hirosaki Castle and park 弘前城
Cherry blossoms near Hirosaki Castle, Aomori
Hirosaki Castle in winter
Credit: prelude2000, Flickr
A view of Hirosaki park from the castle
Autumn leaves illuminated by night at Hirosaki Castle
Credit: Akinori YAMADA, Flickr
Cherry blossom central
A majestic tower on a hill, five entrances, eight bridges over the moat and three towers: Welcome to Hirosaki Castle, in Aomori prefecture. The site is famous for its magnificent park and some 2,600 cherry trees, whose blossoms attract thousands of visitors each spring.
Built in 1611, Hirosaki Castle was the stronghold of the Tsugaru clan, a large family of samurai who ruled northeastern Honshu until the end of the Edo era. The original tower, which included six floors, was destroyed by an explosion in 1627 and was not rebuilt until 1810, in a different location, with only three floors. It remains virtually intact to this day and now houses the castle museum.
Change of ownership
In the Meiji era (1868-1912) the Tsugaru clan gave the castle to the imperial government. In 1873, several buildings, including the inner palace, and a large part of the walls were demolished. In 1895, the Meiji government also took possession of surrounding estates and created a public park. The site currently covers more than 49 hectares.
Cherry blossom festival
From the beginning of the twentieth century the inhabitants of Hirosaki began to plant cherry trees to replace ones that died in an effort to beautify the park. Now there are about 2,600, including 300 centenarians and Japanese Dean of alien invasive specie e somei yoshino (the most popular variety), 120 years old. Decreed by the Japanese government as one of the 100 best places to view cherry blossoms, Hirosaki Park attracts thousands, even millions of visitors during its cherry blossom festival (Hirosaki Sakura Matsuri) held in late April to early May.
Of course, a Japanese garden should be beautiful not only in spring but also in autumn. Hirosaki Park is no exception to the rule, and its ginkgo trees turn golden in October, while the red maples ignite the landscape in November, really making this incredible place come alive. The botanical garden, meanwhile, includes 1,500 plant species and 124,000 trees. Nature lovers and photographers: on your marks!