While cherry blossoms in Kansai and Kanto are at their peak at the end of March/start of April, the 2600 trees in the park around Hirosaki Castle don’t bloom until the end of April. However, as the crowds attest, the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival a show worth waiting for — especially at night when the trees and the castle are illuminated.
Hirosaki Park has many different kinds of cherry trees, including Somei Yoshino, various kinds of shidarezakura (weeping cherry trees), Kanzan, Ichiyo, and other kinds of late-blooming cherry trees. A dozen or so varities can be seen in the free areas of the park; however, if you really want to see a huge selection, it’s worth checking out the arboretum, which has over 50 different kinds of sakura (though not blooming all at once).
A highlight of the park is Japan’s oldest living Somei Yoshino tree, planted in 1882 and located in the Ni no Maru.
2022 Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival details
- Parts of Hirosaki Park are free to enter; other parts cost admission. Entry to the “Honmaru” – the inner part of the park, where the castle keep is located – OR the arboretum costs adult/child ¥320/¥100. A combined ticket for both costs adult/child ¥520/¥160
- The free parts of the park are open 24 hours. The sections that require admission have extended opening hours during the festival. The Honmaru is open 7am–9pm and the arboretum is open 9am–6pm.
- Illuminations of the park’s cherry trees and the castle takes place every evening from dusk until 8:30pm. The most famous view of the illuminations is by Shunyo Bridge on the west side of the park (part of the free area).
- Rowboat rentals – for taking out on the west moat – are available 9am–5pm and cost ¥1,000 for one hour. Rowboats seat up to three people.
- Food vendors are located at various points around the park (and especially around the Yon no Maru at the northern end), open from 9am to 8pm. You can bring in your own snacks and beverages from outside.
Hirosaki Park kindly requests that festival goers follow the guidelines below:
- Pedestrian traffic around the west moat should move one-way in a clockwise direction between 7am and 8pm.
- No alcohol (or at least be discreet…) and no walking while eating.
- Picnics are to be held only in the following locations: Recreation Square, Picnic Square, Citizens’ Square, Nishi no Kuruwa, and Yon no Maru. (These are all free areas).
- No large gatherings (this is a COVID-specific one).
Getting to the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival
The park can be reached on foot from Hirosaki Station in 30 minutes. Alternatively, it’s a 15-minute trip on the flat-rate ¥100 Dotemachi Loop Bus. Hirosaki Station is a 45-minute journey from Aomori Station on the JR Ou Line, with a one-way journey costing ¥680.
The Hirosaki Prince Hotel has some of the most affordable rates for rooms in the area, which is short on hostels and high on ryokans and business hotels.