Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cherry blossom festival

On April 28th, hubby and I went to cherry blossom festival (hanami) at Senshu Park in Akita city. Hanami is a traditional Japanese custom of viewing and enjoying the beauty of flowers, usually cherry blossoms (sakura) or Japanese plum blossoms (ume). Sakura usually bloom from mid April to early May in Akita prefecture. The cherry blossom season is relatively short and the blossoms last only a week or two. Last year we were not in a mood to go for sakura viewing due to the March 11th earthquake in northern Japan. So this year we went to view sakura after two years.

Senshu Park is the site of Kubota Castle ruins. The park is huge and covers an area of 162900 square meters. There are 830 cherry blossom trees planted in this park. The park is about a ten minutes walk towards the west from Akita railway station. We parked our car near the railway station and walked up to the park. As we neared the park, we saw many blooming sakura trees next to the moat of the castle ruins.
Blooming sakura trees next to the moat as viewed while walking towards the park

Sakura and the moat to our right side as viewed from a bridge above the moat

Sakura on the other side of the bridge

After reaching the park, we saw that all the sakura trees were in full bloom. The weather was bright and sunny, and therefore many people had come to view the sakura at the park that day. Many picnic sheets were spread on the park ground, and people relaxed and enjoyed viewing the sakura blossom. A stage was set up where musical performances were held. Many food stalls were set up that sold various kinds of snacks, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
I am standing inside the park. A music performance is going on at the stage in the background.

Sakura blossom and people having picnic

Sakura blossom and people everywhere

Food stalls inside the park

Sakura blossom, food stalls, and people

A huge sakura tree near a food stall

As I mentioned earlier, Senshu Park is the site of Kubota Castle ruins. Kubota Castle used to be a castle of Lord Satake in Akita for 270 years during Edo period. Yoshinobu Satake, the first lord of Akita’s Satake clan of Kubota domain, built the castle in 1603. The castle was destroyed in a fire in 1880. In 1890, the castle site was converted into a public park. The castle ruins are actually located on a small hill inside the park premises. We climbed up a few steps to the hilltop and reached the front of the castle main gate named Omotemon. Right in front of this gate outside the castle grounds we got a beautiful view of blooming sakura trees, and people having picnic at the lower level of the park.
I am standing in front of Omotemon main gate of Kubota Castle

Sakura blossom as viewed from outside the main gate

After entering inside the main gate of the castle, we were at the site of the front yard called Oshirasu. Beyond that was the site of the castle proper, although unfortunately no trace of the castle remains now. However, presently there are many sakura trees planted at this site, which were in full bloom and it was a wonderful sight to behold. Also, from an observation point on the hill located just inside the main gate, we got a fantastic view of Akita city and many more blooming sakura trees.
The front yard of the castle and sakura blossom

I am standing next to a sakura tree

Sakura blossom and Akita city as viewed from the observation point inside the main gate

Another view of sakura blossom and Akita city

Sakura blossom as viewed from the hill

Next, we started walking towards a castle turret building named Osumi-yagura located in the northern end of Senshu Park. We walked through a pathway that was surrounded by many fully bloomed sakura trees on both sides of the path. It felt as if we were walking through a sakura tunnel. It was a wonderful and memorable experience. While walking, we saw many more people having picnic and enjoying the sakura blossom in the castle grounds. A few tents were put up and people reserved some isolated favorite spots for a couple days to enjoy the sakura blossom while it lasted.
Hubby walking through a sakura tunnel

People having picnic under sakura blossom inside the castle grounds

Blooming sakura trees inside the castle grounds

Walking pathway, another sakura tunnel, and a few tents

Hubby walking through the second sakura tunnel

I am standing next to a blooming sakura tree

After about 15 minutes of leisurely walking on the pathway surrounded by sakura tunnel at two places, we reached the northern end of the park where Osumi-yagura turret building of the castle is located. There used to be eight turrets in Kubota Castle during the rule of feudal lord Satake. All were lost, but in 1989 this one turret was reconstructed. The turret along with the sakura blossom in front of it looked stunning.
Osumi-yagura turret and sakura blossom

Hubby standing in front of Osumi-yagura turret

While walking back towards the exit of the castle grounds we had to walk down many steps. These steps are different from the steps leading up to the castle entrance. From the exit steps we got a wonderful close up view of the blooming sakura trees that surrounded us. It was simply superb. From these exit steps we could also see many sakura trees standing proudly adjacent to Omotemon main gate inside the castle grounds on the hill above.

Close up view of a few fully bloomed sakura trees

Hubby standing next to a blooming sakura tree

I am standing next to a sakura tree

Blooming sakura trees adjacent to the main gate inside the castle grounds

Another view of the sakura trees next to the main gate

Afterwards we had some snacks and then left the park. We loved viewing the sakura blossom at Senshu Park.


Roopa Pavan said...

It was a good experience to read the articles and contents on this site.

Princess Dieter said...

Thank you so much. Really enjoyed the beautiful pictures!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Roopa Pavan for reading the post and the blog.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Princess Dieter for liking the pictures.