Hirosaki - the Sacred and the Profane :
Hirosaki in Cherry Blossom
(Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan)
Hirosaki's cherry blossoms are exceptional. There are reasons why it attracts the most people among the many cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan.
The first reason is the rich landscape. From the edge of the moat that borders the park to the castle tower with a fine view, just going up and down the 17-meter elevation difference, they can encounter various cherry blossoms scenery. The cherry blossoms looking up from the bottom or looking down from the top, and the close-up view of the cityscape that can be seen behind the curtain of cherry blossoms or the magnificent distant view of Mt. Iwaki beyond the cherry blossoms. The views change one after another.
The water landscape overlaps with the topographic landscape. The combination of water and cherry blossoms, which amplify the shadows of flowers and float the petals, is indispensable for cherry blossom viewing. In Hirosaki Park, the multiple layers of canals disappear and reappear, creating the scene.
One of the highlights of the landscape is the cherry blossoms on the west moat. Towards nightfall, when they head south from the vermilion-lacquered Shunyo Bridge, the gently winding tunnel of cherry blossoms melts into the evening and seems to go on forever. The wide water surface of the moat on the right reflects the rows of cherry blossom trees on the opposite bank, while on an even higher embankment beyond a narrow waterway on the left, the rows of cherry blossom trees also continue. They let themselves go with the wide flow of cherry blossoms created by the nearby cherry blossoms, the distant cherry blossoms, and the upper cherry blossoms.
The second reason is that cultural properties are nearby. The park itself is designated as a historical site as the remains of the castle were built in the Edo period, and several important cultural properties are preserved. They admire those, enjoy a feast near those, and go up to the castle tower if you get tired of eating and drinking. Of course, the stairs are steep. So please refrain from intoxicated people.
The origin of the garden paths is the intricately planned flow line to prepare for the invasion of foreign enemies in the era when the castle had been active. The paths bring various eye movements to create varied sequences of cherry blossoms.
The landscape and cultural properties make Hirosaki's cherry blossoms prominent.
Hirosaki Castle boasts about 2,600 cherry blossom trees of about 50 species, and the first cherry blossom trees were planted in 1715. It was 25 seedlings brought from Kyoto. In 1880, when the castle was devastated by the Meiji Restoration, 20 cherry trees were planted by the former feudal retainers. It was the starting year, but it seems that only a few trees were left because part of the former feudal retainers, who criticized cherry blossom viewing in the castle, uprooted trees. It took 2 years from 1901, to replant 1,000 trees. In that period, the reaction of citizens changed. In 1918, The first “Kan-ou Kai”, the prototype of the current cherry blossom festival, has been held.
What is surprising is that the festival was held until 1943 under the name of "Sakura Preservation Assembly" despite the government's request to cancel the festival during World War II. They continued a trend of hostility toward singing and dance entertainment. It showed that Hirosaki citizens' affection for cherry blossoms is hardcore that is different from other cherry blossom spots. In 1947, when the war ended, the “Kan-ou Kai” resumed, and in 1961, the name was changed to the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival.
The extravagant kind of worry about visiting Hirosaki's cherry blossoms is that it has too many picturesque sceneries. And the best shot that everyone agrees on is the cherry blossoms with the castle tower in the background. The posters of the Cherry Blossom Festival for nearly a century are on display in the rest area that used the former Butokuden Hall. Except for the period in which famous woodcut painter Shiko Munakata was commissioned to change the style, all of them are similar photos of the castle tower and cherry blossoms.
In other words, in other famous places, it is surprisingly difficult to connect with a specific picture, but only in Hirosaki, the scenery of cherry blossoms with the castle tower in the background was absolute, so now it is a strong icon that everyone can recall. That is also the reason why it is the best cherry blossom viewing spot in Japan.
From Tokyo to Hirosaki
by train : 3 hours 20 minutes from “Tokyo Station” to “Shin-Aomori Station” by Shinkansen (high speed train), one service per one hour. Then, 30 minutes from “Shin-Aomori Station” to “Hirosakii Station” by local train connected with Shinkansen, one service per one hour.
by air : 1 hours 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Aomori Airport, about 6 services ecah day. 1 hour by bus from Aomori Airport to Hirosaki Station.
From “Hirosaki Station” to “Hirosaki Castle” and “Hirosaki Park”
20 minutes by bus from “Hirosaki Station” to “Shiyakusyo-mae Koen Iriguchi” or “Siyakusyo-mae”, frequent service in the daytime. The site is only a short walk from the bus stop.
Acoommodations in Aomori
”弘前公園 愛されて100年”(陸奥新報社, 1995年）
”弘前城築城400年”(長谷川成一, 清文堂, 2011）
2018.01 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version
2018.01 Text in English version
Copyright (C) 2010 Future-scape Architects. All Rights Reserved.