Cherry Blossoms in Hirosaki

28-29 April 2009

We arrived in Hirosaki after dark and decided to see the light-up of cherry trees in the castle-park. This park is famous for its thousands of cherry blossom trees and especially the picturesque combination with the (reconstructed) castle tower.

The park is pretty big and also along the moat there are many cherry trees

[HDR] the entrance gate to the (outer) castle grounds

[HDR] The famous (reconstructed) castle tower you see on all pictures and advertisements (especially those for the cherry blossom festival)

[HDR] The cherry tunnel

[HDR] We stayed 2 nights in this cottage close to Hirosaki, which belongs to the Iwakisou [JP] hotel. Even though it must have been peak season (because of the cherry blossom festival) I think we were the only ones in one of the 9 cottages (called "view lodge" on the website).

It was very reasonably priced (although you have to pay separately for the hotel's spa-bath), clean, well equipped and it gives more space and freedom than a hotel room.

Our full day in Hirosaki was a bit of a rest-day. We went to see the cherry blossoms in the castle park again (now in day-light) using the hotel's shuttle-bus service and we did some shopping to make our own dinner.

Although it took some waiting in line to enter, the castle tower provides a nice overview of the park and Mt. Iwaki (the cottage is at the foot of the mountain somewhere)

I the tunnel of cherry blossom were 3 shamisen players. One of them (笹川皇人 [JP]; at the right) apparently won the All-Japan-tsugaru-jamisen-taikai (national contest for this instrument) in 2003. The tsugaru-jamisen is a special type of shamisen. A shamisen is a sort of 3-string guitar. The tsugaru-jamisen is a bit bigger and has thicker strings than a normal shamisen and is the traditional instrument of this northern region. Other winners of the contest have become very famous for their new style of playing fast/catchy modern music using this traditional instrument (e.g., Hiromitsu Agatsuma and the Yoshida Brothers, see some cool videos: Fun (Agatsuma), Tsugaru jon kara bushi (Agatsuma), Rising (Yoshida), Samurai Storm (Yoshida), Madrugada (Yoshida) [sound only]

Hanafubuki!! Literally: flower-snowstorm!! This is maybe the best part of the cherry blossoms: when the blooming is almost over and there is some strong wind gust, the petals are just like snowflakes!

This is the former city library of Hirosaki. The city actually has many old European-style buildings.

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