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5 Stunning Cherry Blossom Spots In Yamagata: Castles, Festivals, And More!

5 Stunning Cherry Blossom Spots In Yamagata: Castles, Festivals, And More!

Yamagata 2019.10.18 Bookmark

Cherry blossoms begin to bloom from mid-April in Yamagata. While their blossoming season is short, visitors can also enjoy festivals, excellent food, castles, and hot springs at the five most famous hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) spots in Yamagata.

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by MATCHA-PR

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Mid-April Is the Peak Season for Cherry Blossoms in Yamagata!

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots _Uesugi-jinja Shrine_Matsugasaki Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

In Yamagata, the cherry blossom season lasts from mid- to late April. There are many sakura (cherry blossom) viewing spots all around the prefecture. This article introduces five places where visitors can enjoy the beauty of these fleeting flowers while tasting excellent food and experiencing the local culture all at once.

Read on to learn about spring events, castles, hot springs, and regional cuisine that can be enjoyed during the cherry blossom season in Yamagata.

1. Kajo Park - Home to One of Japan's Top Castles

Yamagata Cherry Blossoms_Kajo Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Located in the heart of Yamagata City, Kajo Park stands on the former site of Yamagata Castle. The castle was reportedly built by the Mogami Clan, who ruled the current Yamagata region in the medieval period.

The park was registered as a historic site by the Japanese government in 1986. It was also chosen as one of Japan's Top 100 Castles in 2006.

Yamagata Cherry Blossoms_Kajo Park_Train Shinkansen

Picture courtesy of Pixta

During the cherry blossom season, 1,500 cherry trees will be in full bloom. Visitors should not miss this spectacular view of the castle's stone base and white walls together with the blossoms—a sight that can only be seen in Japan. If you're lucky, you may even snap a photograph of this seasonal backdrop with with the trains passing by.

Yamagata Cherry Blossoms_Kajo Park_Yozakura (cherry blossoms at night)

Picture courtesy of Pixta

The trees will be illuminated at night, mainly near the Higashi-Otemon Gate (the castle's east gate). Don't miss the night view of the weeping cherry trees by the moat. Various events, such as the Dai-Chakai (Grand Tea Ceremony) will also be held here.

Kajo Park

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2. Tendo ParK - The Venue for Human Shogi

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Tendo Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Tendo, a city renowned for manufacturing of shogi (*1) pieces, hosts the Tendo Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom festival) in mid-April when the seasonal flowers begin to bloom.

Located at the top of Mt. Maizuru, Human Shogi (Japanese) will be held at Tendo Park. This is a shogi match where participants dressed in armor and kimonos become human manifestations of shogi pieces played on a large board in the park filled with 2,000 cherry trees.

*1 Shogi: a Japanese board game for two contestants that resembles chess.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Tendo Park_Ningen Shogi (Human Chess)

Picture courtesy of Pixta

In case of bad weather, the event will be moved from the park to Tendo Civic Cultural Hall, an indoor facility. If you have the chance, don't miss out on this unique event.

Tendo Park (Maizuru Park)

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Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Tendo City's Kurazu River

Picture courtesy of Pixta

The Kurazu River, which runs through Tendo City, is lined with cherry trees on both sides. The trees will be illuminated during spring with lights extending for about 720 meters. This is a superb spot to truly enjoy the romantic view of the weeping cherry trees.

Kurazu River's Weeping Cherry Blossoms

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3. Tsuruoka Park - An Ancient Japanese Cedar Tree Among the Cherry Blossoms

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Tsuruoka Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Tsuruoka Park is built on the former site of the Tsurugaoka Castle. The government office of the Shonai province (*2), which ruled this area during the Edo Period, was housed in the castle. The park boasts a sugi (Japanese cedar) tree which is said to be a few hundred years old. The restored remains of the castle, including the moat and the stone base, are also worth seeing.

During the sakura season, approximately 730 cherry trees bloom, creating a fantastic scenery. This is the reason why the park was selected as one of the Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan.

*2 Province (han): a feudal domain in the Edo Period.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Tsuruoka Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Tsuruoka Sakura Matsuri (Japanese) is held in mid-April. The blossoms, food stands, and the row of lanterns all contribute in creating a festive atmosphere.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Tsuruoka Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Various events, such as tea ceremonies, Japanese confection-making workshops, and a katchu (body armor) workshops will also be held.

Tsuruoka Park (Tsurugaoka Castle Ruins)

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4. Matsugasaki Park - A Dreamlike View! A Red Bridge and Cherry Blossoms

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Uesugi-jinja Shrine_Matsugasaki Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Located in Yonezawa City, Matsugasaki Park is built on the former site of the Yonezawa Castle. Uesugi Jinja, which enshrines Uesugi Kenshin—a famous warlord of the Sengoku Period—is situated inside the park, making it a special place for Yonezawa citizens.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Uesugi-jinja Shrine_Matsugasaki Park

Picture courtesy of Pixta

During the season, more than 200 cherry trees on both sides of the moat will bloom, creating a grand sight along the castle walls. Don't miss the Hishimon Bridge, which spans over the canal against a backdrop of blossoms.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Yonezawa Beef

Visitors to Yonezawa should definitely try the Yonezawa Beef. Various dishes such as shabu-shabu, steak, and sukiyaki can all be tasted here at a reasonable price. Please take a look at this article about Yonezawa cuisine for details.

Matsugasaki Park

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5. Eboshiyama Park - A Sakura Viewing Spot by the Hot Springs

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Eboshiyama Park_Akayu Onsen

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Eboshiyama Park, located near Akayu Onsen (hot springs) in Nanyo City, boasts more than a 1,000 cherry trees of 20 different varieties. The number of Edo Higan Cherry Trees, an early-flowering type, is one of the largest in Japan. This park was also chosen as one of the Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Eboshiyama Park_Akayu Onsen

Picture courtesy of Pixta

Eboshiyama Hachimangu Shrine can be found inside the park. The shrine is famous for answering prayers for the well-being of one's family and traffic safety. A stone-built torii gate, the largest of its kind in Japan, stands at the end of the approach, which is lined with weeping cherry trees. From the shrine, visitors can enjoy a view of the Akayu Onsen area.

Yamagata Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots_Eboshiyama Park_Akayu Onsen

Picture courtesy of Yamagata Prefecture

After checking out the cherry blossoms, park visitors should take a break at Akayu Onsen. It is said that this hot spring is good for healing scars and neuralgia.

Eboshiyama Park

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Unique Viewing Spots of Yamagata Prefecture

There aren't many viewing spots where visitors can appreciate hot springs, regional food, and castles all while admiring the cherry blossoms. However, the places mentioned above should fulfill the unique wishes of those who want to take in all of the sights of Yamagata!

For more information on beautiful places to visit in Yamagata, please check our special feature on Yamagata and Niigata.


Main image courtesy of Pixta
Written by Chen.
Sponsored by Yamagata Prefecture

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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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