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cherry blossoms, kumamoto castle

Kumamoto Castle and More: Beautiful Places to Enjoy Sakura!

James Lau

James Lau

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Kumamoto Castle with cherry blossoms in the front.,

Can you imagine walking around ancient castles surrounded by beautiful sakura trees? It’s like a scene straight out of a historical drama! When the sakura blooms, explore these five unique castles during cherry blossom season, including Kumamoto Castle!

Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto Prefecture)

Each spring, Kumamoto Castle, one of Japan’s top three castles, becomes decorated by the beauty of 800 cherry blossom trees blooming. These pink blooms undoubtedly add a spectacular touch to the castle’s architecture and symbolize strength. Although damaged by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, the castle stands tall and is a message of recovery for the community. The castle’s nightly illumination during cherry blossom season creates a celebration over hardships.

Kumamoto Castle, surrounded by cherry blossoms.
Kumamoto Castle has over 800 cherry blossom trees on its grounds. Image via Shutterstock

Constructed in 1607 by Katō Kiyomasa, Kumamoto Castle’s beauty is best during sakura season. Additionally, the castle grounds have become a popular blossom-viewing site. Although access was restricted in certain areas after the earthquake, places are opened to the public on special days. Families enjoy gathering at Ninomaru Park, enjoying the peace of the surroundings, and eating bento lunches under the blooming cherry trees.

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Kanazawa Castle (Ishikawa Prefecture)

Kanazawa Castle Park allows visitors to stroll through well-preserved walls, moats, and reconstructed castle buildings that transport them back to the Edo Period. This beautiful setting also provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Lords of Kanazawa Castle. During the cherry blossom season, the park transforms into an iconic Japanese scene with fluffy pink blooms surrounding the castle, creating an unforgettable view.

Kanazawa Castle surrounded by cherry blossoms.
Kanazawa Castle has a garden you can enjoy for free. Image via Shutterstock

Kanazawa Castle Park’s charm extends into the evening during the cherry blossom season, as LED lights illuminate the cherry trees and castle walls in a beautiful display. The reflections on the dark pond surface create a magical effect. The park’s vast grounds also provide ample space for picnics, with Shinmaru Hiroba being a popular spot with a large grassy area surrounded by cherry trees. A visit to Kanazawa Castle Park promises beauty, allowing you to enjoy the cherry blossom day and night!

Tsuruga Castle (Fukushima Prefecture)

Tsuruga Castle is a landmark of Aizu-Wakamatsu in Fukushima. In the background are 1,000 cherry trees in full bloom during spring. As the only Japanese castle with reddish roof tiles, Tsuruga Castle’s black-and-white contrasts beautifully with the pink cherry blossoms, and the park attracts locals and visitors. The cherry trees are illuminated at night, reflecting on the moat and stone walls, enhancing the castle’s charm and creating an enchanting night mood.

Tsuruga Castle in the spring time, surrounded by cherry blossoms.
This castle even has a teahouse! Image via Shutterstock

Initially constructed in the 14th century and reconstructed in 1965, Tsuruga Castle provides a view of the surrounding castle town, making it a popular destination in Fukushima. The best time to experience the castle’s allure is during spring, just in time for the annual Tsuruga Castle Sakura Festival. This lively festival offers many activities, from evening sakura illuminations to sake tasting, tea ceremonies, and more!

Matsumae Castle (Hokkaido Prefecture)

In Hokkaido, Matsumae Castle is Japan’s most northern and popular cherry blossom viewing spot. Home to over 10,000 cherry trees, they bloom from late April to late May. The castle’s historic significance as the stronghold of the Matsumae Clan urges visitors to explore the castle grounds and discover temples, like  Hogenji Temple and Aunji Temple. In spring, the park hosts a cherry blossom festival with activities for all to do!

Cherry blossoms near Matsumae Castle.
This is the only Edo-period castle in Hokkaido. Image via Shutterstock

Walking through Matsumae Castle’s grounds feels like entering another world, with the smell of saltwater and flowers in the air. The castle sits on top of a hill and has a commanding view of the Matsumae area, and visitors can even see across the Tsugaru Strait to Aomori. Matsumae Castle is a must-visit in spring, with a long blooming season and opportunities to immerse in the castle’s history!

Nijo Castle (Kyoto Prefecture)

Built as the home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Kyoto’s Nijo Castle has become a popular spot during cherry blossom season. With over 500 trees, the castle transforms into a great viewing spot in late March to mid-April. Evening illuminations enhance the experience, turning the cherry trees into a beautiful display of colors. Visitors can also watch the projections on the Karamon gate, with interactive displays and a unique nighttime cherry blossom tea ceremony.

Nijo Castle during the sakura event at night.
The festival features beautiful projection mapping. Image via Hyakkei

Nijo Castle’s grounds also have the Sakura no Sono, or the “Cherry Tree Garden,” with various cherry tree species with historical roots. Not to mention, the Seiryuen Garden has a diverse landscape with wild cherry cherry trees and a beautiful sakura tunnel. There are also stalls providing hot drinks and snacks for a quick break! Overall, Nijo Castle promises an extraordinary experience, creating memories that will remain long after the blossoms have gone.

Why should I visit these castles during cherry blossom season?

Cherry blossom season adds an extra layer of magic to these historical sites. The soft pinks and whites create an unreal experience, transforming the castles into another world! Immerse yourself in Japan’s cherry blossoms as you join in traditional festivals held near these castles. Engage with locals, savor seasonal delicacies, and discover each castle’s secrets as the trees bloom around you! What are you waiting for? Have you been to any of these castles? Which one did you like best? Let us know in the comments below!

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