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Hirosaki Castle and park
弘前城

Cherry blossoms near Hirosaki Castle, Aomori

Hirosaki Castle in winter

A view of Hirosaki park from the castle

Autumn leaves illuminated by night at Hirosaki Castle

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.

Fall garden

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!

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Hirosaki Castle and park
弘前城

Address:

1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori


Hours:

- The central keep and northern part of the tower (Honmaru/Kita no Kuruwa): 9:00 - 17:00 (21:00 during the Sakura Matsuri). Closed between November 24 and March 31.

- The Botanical Garden: 9:00 - 18:00

Price:

Entrance to the park is free.

The entrance to the central keep and northern part of the tower (Honmaru/Kita no Kuruwa): 310 yen for adults and 100 yen for children

Botanical Garden: 310 yen for adults and 100 yen for children

access:

Take the Dotemachi Loop Bus from JR Hirosaki station. Get off at Shiyakusho-mae (journey time around 15 mins)

Our opinion:

- Major renovation work is being undertaken as of spring 2015, and should continue over a period of ten years, plus five more years to put the tower in its place (it will be temporarily moved).

- Be prepared to be patient if you want to visit the park during cherry blossom season.

And also ...

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