Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hirosaki Castle: Chrysanthemum Festival

Hirosaki Castle in fall
November 6th was the second to last day of the Chrysanthemum Festival at Hirosaki Castle. It also commemorates the 5 month anniversary of me arriving in Japan. ^_^
DSC05566Hirosaki castle is 400 years old! This sign is made out of apples
When you get to the first booth, they only have maps in Japanese. If you go to the booth near the castle, they keep their English maps there. Many people were taking leisurely strolls but I knew I wanted to see the castle first, so even though the man on stage singing Kabuki-type music was amazing…I searched for a sign leading to the castle. Once I got there, I went to the booth, showed them my ticket (which allowed me to go inside the castle, you have to pay extra). I went inside the castle. The castle is actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be and even more so inside. They had samurai armor and other artifacts. There are 3 floors to the museum and apparently 5 floors to the castle. The stairs are very steep and very narrow so watch you step and watch your head! While you are in the castle, don’t forget to look out the windows. I got a great shot of the mountain from there.
 view of the mountain from inside the castle
After I got my fill of the castle, I was really hungry so I downed a adzuki bean bun I had brought with me and just started walking. I think I got lost and maybe even went to places I wasn’t supposed to be in. Oops… I did see the “Cherry Blossom Tunnel.” Hirosaki is a prime spot for cherry blossom viewing in the spring. Unfortunately, I was not in Japan this year to see it but I can’t wait until April/May already! Here is what it looked like in the fall:
Imagine this road covered in pink cherry blossoms !
So once I got here I think I got to an impasse so I turned around and decided to find the Chrysanthemum section. There were many manikins like the one shown below dressed in kimonos made of flowers.
manican in flower kimonoGiant Chrysanthemummarigolds, I thinkDSC05683DSC05667
The flowers were really nice and the chrysanthemums were gigantic! But what I really loved was the fall colors on all the trees. Some were so red they looked like they were on fire! I haven’t seen colors like that since I lived in New England!
haven't seen fall colors like this since I lived in New England!
beautiful golden trees
Hirosaki Castle was a great experience and I can’t wait to go back this spring to see the cherry blossoms in bloom! I know for sure it will be very crowded unlike the chrysanthemum festival.

Directions:Hirosaki Castle (with toll road)

Follow general directions to Aomori City. Misawa -->Route 8 -->Michinoku Toll Road  -->Route 123
Proceed on Route 123 and turn left at the green sign denoting Aomori Higashi IC.
Get on the toll road (Aomori Expressway -->Tohoku Expressway
Get off at Kuroishi IC and take Route 102 towards Hirosaki City. You will cross a bridge over railroad tracks and follow the signs to your destination.

Hirosaki Castle (without toll road)
Follow the general directions to Aomori City. Misawa --> Route 8 --> Route 4
Proceed on Route 4 and you will come to a big intersection with Route 7 bypass
Turn Right onto RTE 7 Bypass (Hirosaki is about 50KM from this point)
Once in Hirosaki City there will be an off ramp to turn Left, proceed down it and turn Right under RTE 7.
Follow signs to your destination.
To go to Hirosaki Park (Castle) pass by the first sign that tells you to turn right at the Castle and proceed down to the T intersection.
Turn Left at the T-intersection and follow the road around the castle grounds.
Parking is fairly limited near the Castle - you may end up parking a few blocks away and have to walk. The parking lots near the Castle charge about 1000yen

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