Five ways to view cherry blossoms at northern Japan’s favorite sakura-viewing park.
Welcome to the Tohoku region’s most loved spot for cherry blossom viewing.
Hirosaki Castle, with its mighty three-story castle tower, though suffered from a lightning strike a few centuries ago, stands solemnly in Hirosaki Park near central Aomori Prefecture. Hirosaki Park has an area of 600,000 square meters — about the area of 150 soccer fields. Come to this park in late April or early May and you’ll find yourself lost in a sea of pink.
The park’s enormity is not the only reason for its popularity. Its options for leisure activities are another reason to make it up to this northern locale. Many parks in Japan have thousands of cherry blossom trees, but few offer diverse sights and experiences like Hirosaki’s 2,600 sakura trees do.
First off, one of the best viewing spots in the park is of course, right at the castle. The castle is of a clean white and classy green, and a catchy red bridge sits right in front of it. Imagine some light pink petals around the duo, and you’ve got an iconic “Japanese” scene.
Follow the signs in the park to walk a little bit uphill. At a higher location, you will see Mt. Iwaki in its entirety and a variety of cherry blossom trees in different shades of pink in front of it. During early springtime, it’s likely that there is still snow on Mt. Iwaki’s peak.
If you’re looking for a more unique and private cherry blossom viewing experience, row a boat in the west moat. Rent a boat for ¥1,000 for 60 minutes and find your favorite angle to enjoy the serenity. This moat becomes even more breathtaking after the full-bloom period — it transforms into a pink carpet as petals fall.
The best way to surround yourself with cherry blossoms, though, is, of course, walking under the sakura tunnel. Watch canopies of pink crowd above you, and admire them close-up, too. This tunnel can get crowded during the day though so if possible, visit in the early morning or in the evening. Don’t forget to try out the local specialties from the food stands, especially the black potato jelly!
Special to the sakura season is the illumination at night. Suddenly the sight becomes all the more magical with hundreds of lit up pink trees on a navy backdrop.
Snow Lantern Festival
Hirosaki is the place to be for an unforgettable encounter with Japan’s cherry blossoms, but it also has something special in winter! If you are in this snowy prefecture, don’t miss out on the Snow Lantern Festival every February, when around 200 snow lanterns are crafted around the grounds of Hirosaki Castle as part of its annual winter festival.
At night their soft glow gently illuminates the snow-covered landscape, creating a romantic atmosphere straight out of a fairytale. The festival also features fireworks, project mapping displays, snow sculptures and a giant snow slide – perfect for making the most out of the area’s heavy snowfall! And don’t worry, you can still view the cherry blossoms even at this time of year, with a special sakura light-up event taking place during the festivities.