Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival
Hirosaki Castle is the quintessential jewel of the Tsugaru region. Every spring over 2 million people from all over Japan flock to the castle grounds to witness Aomori prefecture’s famous cherry blossom festival.
The three-storied castle structure (resembling a turret) was originally built in the Edo Period and normally sits on the corner of the inner citadel. However, recently it’s been moved to allow construction workers to safely restore the stone ramparts below. Tickets to enter the grounds and the castle building sell for approximately 310 yen.
Hirosaki’s cherry blossoms are unique because of the way the trees are pruned. Normally, cherry blossom trees produce only about three to four floral buds, but the trees in Hirosaki Park produce five to seven. This is because the ground’s caretakers have adapted Aomori prefecture’s special apple tree pruning technique to the park’s flora— resulting in thicker and more lavish cherry blossoms.
A popular activity during the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival is to rowboat along the castle moats. Visitors can rent the boats (including lifejackets) for one hour and paddle under the cherry blossom trees. Floating along the serene waters and cotton candy landscape feels very enchantingly surreal.
If you arrive during the day, make sure to stay or return in the evening for the park’s out-of-this-world night illuminations. There are approximately 2,600 trees in the park representing a diversity of over 50 different cherry blossom varieties. Most of the trees are in full-bloom during the last week of April or the first week of May. However, times may vary from year to year so it’s best to check the Hirosaki Tourism Facebook page for the most recent updates.
Jared is a Silicon Valley Native and recent college grad currently exploring the Eastern Hemisphere. You can follow him on Twitter.