During the brouhaha of the Sakura Festival on the last week of March in Tokyo and other southern parts of Japan, I got so jealous about all the beautiful pictures from my friends and their social media feeds and it was easy to be disappointed because that festive week passed by and the disappointed resolve of vowing to come the year later.
Like many ignorant people I know, who knows very little about the rest of Japan, I didn’t realize that the northern part of Japan celebrate this festive blooming a few weeks later as compared to the capital and as fortunes would have it, I got invited to witness the Cherry Blossom in the Tohoku region in 1st week of April.
The great thing about that trip is that, not only was there a great deal of beauty and natural wonder that made the trip worth its value but the historical and cultural aspects of the places we visited was such a treat.
This is a great little castle to visit if you’re not too far away, and in doing so you get a unique sneak peak at the original samurai homes, which is an important cultural aspect. Be a witness at the beautiful property and that has faithfully reconstructed towers or yagura. The samurai homes about 1.5km from the castle. They’re well worth your time.
In the Sengoku Period, a period in Japanese history marked by social upheaval, political intrigue and near-constant military conflict Japanese historians named after the otherwise unrelated Warring States period, the Shibata clan ruled over this area and was aligned with warlord, Oda Nobunaga. In 1598, Mizoguchi Hidekatsu founded Shibata Castle and was completed in 1654 under the third generation Mizoguchi, Mizoguchi Nobunao. In 1872 when the Meiji Government ordered the castle to be dismantled it had 11 yagura and 5 gates, of those 16 main structures only one gate and one yagura remain today.
The prefecture of Aomori has a lot to offer and by far, the most memorable part of my trip, was visiting Hirosaki. It is hard to pinpoint which exactly, maybe because of the incredible cherry blossom tunnel and park the brought, maybe the delicious apples in which the prefecture has been justifiably known for and then there is the backstreet experiences that left such an impression on me.
But as I walked though the massive park in constant awe as my eyes wandered from left to right, up and down to revel in the experience of not only seeing the blossoms but in also seeing the people appreciating this particular event that happens to their city one week out of the year.
Then, from a series of turn we reached a bridge that became the foreground of the Hirosaki Castle.
Since 1903, about 2,600 cherry trees have been planted in this site, so the cherry blossoms are undoubtedly the main attraction here with the castle serving as the proverbial icing on the cake.
Kaminoyama has a triple heritage as a castle town, an onsen town and an inn town and the three kind of blend into each other. The road is where the old moat was and then leads up to the onsen areas.
This castle, throughout the pre-modern period, ended up inside the fringes of Dewa Province. It is connected with the Mogami, Matsudaira tribes and was inhabited from the year 1535 to 1873.
Yokote Castle was originally built by the Onodera clan in the 16th century. The Onodera ruled until the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. After the Battle of Sekigahara, Onodera was sent to Shimane Pref. and was replaced by the Satake of Mito. Yokote Castle was an important castle fortifying the southern edge of the Satake’s territory. During the Edo Period, lordship of the castle changed hands several times from the Satake to the Date, Suda and Tomura until the Meiji Period. In 1868 the castle burned down in a Battle of the Boshin War.