From the end of April through the early May every year, Hirosaki Cherry Festival is held in Hirosaki Park in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture. It is counted as one of the four big festivals in Hirosaki City; the others are the Snow Lantern Festival in February, The Neputa Festival in August and Autumn Leaf Festival in October.
Hirosaki Park is the ruins site of Hirosaki Castle, where the Tsugaru clan had resided during the Edo period (1603-1868). The only existing donjon in the Tohoku region remains in the park. The castle ruins site was arranged into Hirosaki Park and open to the public in 1895. It is now one of Japan’s representative cherry blossom viewing places.
The cherry trees were first planted in Hirosaki Park in 1715, when 25 stocks of Kasumi-zakura (Prunus leveilleana) were sent for from Kyoto. Later in the Meiji period (1868-1912), additional cherry trees were planted several times. Today as many as 2,600 cherry trees in about 50 sub-species including Somei Yoshino cherry come into bloom in spring.
The cherry trees that stand at the edge of the water moat extend their branches over the water, reflecting their beautiful images on the surface. When the park is lit up at night, the donjon shows its elegant figure in the midst of the cherry blossoms, which creates a fantastic scene.
Flower Festival is held at Josenji Temple in early April in Gokase Town, Miyazaki Prefecture. Saieizan Josenji Temple is a Jodo Shinshu temple founded in 1615 by Goto Magodayu, a warrior, who became a Buddhist priest.
In front of the three-story pagoda stands a weeping cherry tree, which is 15 meters in height, 3 meters in trunk circumference, and 250 to 300 years old. It is designated as a natural monument by the prefecture. The tree is a variety of Ubahigan-zakura, the branches of which have grown downward. It produces pale pink flowers in late April every year. It is said to be the most elegant and wonderful weeping cherry tree in the prefecture.
The Koori Castle ruins site is located in Hebinumayama, Sanbongi Koori, Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. The castle was resided by Shibuya Sagaminokami, a retainer of the Osaki clan, during the Warring States period (1493-1573). After the area was ruled by the Date clan, Shibata Muneyoshi, the father of Oyama-no-kata, one of Date Masamune’s concubines, temporarily resided in the castle.
Fortified with the Naruse River and the steep cliff facing deep mountains, it was presumably an impregnable castle. The ruins site is arranged into Tateyama Park, from which you can command a panoramic view of rice paddies in Osaki Plain. It is famous as a cherry blossom viewing spot. In spring, 900 old cherry trees beautifully come into bloom.
Taga-jinja, located in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is the oldest shrine in Sendai.
It is said to date back to the year 110 when Yamato Takerunomikoto, a legendary hero, brought part of the spirit of the deity he worshiped to this area during his East expedition that he undertook by order of the emperor.
Since then, it has been worshiped as a guardian deity and protected by a succession of local lords and military commanders, including Date Masamune, a well-known founder of Sendai clan who established his castle in Sendai. In 1775, the shrine building was expanded by Date Shigemura.
The shrine is also worshiped by people hoping for long life and affectionately called “Otaga-sama”. When spring comes, cherry trees in the ground come into full bloom and cheerfully welcome visitors.
The entrance path to the shrine is also a path to a local school and school children can often be seen passing nearby.
It has been over 1,800 years since the first development on this site. The shrine full of historic relics is still to this day deeply rooted in local people’s lives and is loved and cared by them as it has been through the ages.
The Kubo cherry tree is one of a group of 1200-year-old trees in Isazawa, Nagai City, Yamagata prefecture.
By the grounds of the Isazawa Elementary School stands the splendid Edohigan cherry tree, which has been designated as a National Natural Treasure. Its branches reach 9m around and it is 16m tall. Its total length of branches was reputed to have been 63m some 150 years ago.
The name of the Kubo cherry tree comes from the old name of this district. The Kubo cherry tree is also called the Otama cherry tree. Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro, the Barbarian-Subduing Generalissimo, visited this district and fell in love with a girl named Otama. But after returning to his native land, he received the news that she had died of grief for him. Missing her, he had his followers plant cherry trees near her grave. These cherry trees are said to be the origin of the Kubo cherry tree. Perhaps even now, she still loves him and makes the cherry tree blossom each year.
The remains of Miharu Castle stand on Mt Ooshida near the town of Miharu in Tamura-gun, Fukushima Prefecture. The castle was established by Lord Yoshiaki Tamura of the Tamura clan and constructed from the Kamakura period to the Nanboku-chou period.
The Tamura clan eventually became one of the servant clans to a larger more powerful clan, but in 1590, after the Ouu-shioki, they changed to serve the Masamune Date and moved to Sendai. Soon after, the castle became the property of clan lords such as Ujisato Gamou, Kagekatsu Uesugi and Yoshiaki Katou.
In 1645, Toshitsue Akita became the castle lord for 10 thousand cubic meters of rice, and the Akita clan ruled until the Meiji Restoration. The castle was abandoned in the 4th year of the Meiji period (1871) due to the abolition of the domain system.
Today, the castle site is famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms. Many public institutions stand near the castle remains, and the area functions as a center of the town of Miharu. Miharu Castle reveals the sorrows and weaknesses of those who were pawns in the inevitable flow of history.
In spring, visitors are able to enjoy walking through a pink corridor formed by a total of 165 cherry blossom trees blooming on both banks of the Kannonji River.
Most of the trees are 40 to 90 years old while some exceed this. The contrast between the snowy Bandai Mountains is beautiful, and the Inawashiro cherry trees blossom later than usual for cherry blossom trees.
The blossom petal blizzards of May are splendid, and one may feel the presence of spring after walking through the corridor of blossoms while viewing the grand landscape of the Bandai Mountains and Lake Inawashiro.
A highly recommended spot for viewing the cherry blossom is from Yanagibashi Bridge near Ooyamazumi Shrine. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the blossoms of a 130 year old weeping cherry tree with a trunk circumference of 2.8m at Kannonji Temple. A Cherry Blossom Festival is also held during mid- through late April.
Ono Temple belongs to the Muroji Shingon Sect of Buddhism and is located in Muro-ku, Uda, in Nara Prefecture. The temple's sango title is Mt Yoryu.
Ono Temple is a branch temple of Muro Temple and, because of its location west of this, it was also called the 'West Gate of Muro Temple'. The temple was built by Enno Gyoja in 681. In 824, Kukai built a saya and named it Jisonin Miroku Temple, but it came to be called Ono Temple after its location.
The Miroku Gesho Senkoku Daimagaibutsu, seen carved on the Byobugaura on the opposite shore by the Uda River, was carved in 1207 by a mason named Inoyukisue from Song Dynasty China; it is the largest Senkoku Daimagaibutsu in Japan.
Trees within the precinct of the temple include the large 'benishidare' (a type of cherry) growing here in rows, as well as the 300-year-old giant 'koitoedatare' (another type of cherry), which blossoms beautifully in the spring.