Hirosaki Castle

A Fine Far Northern Fortress Known for Major Festivals and Cherry Blossoms


Hirosaki Castle, located in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, is widely regarded as one of japan‘s most beautiful castles. This magnificent fortress, constructed in the Hirayama style, stands atop a hill for easier defense and is surrounded by defensive walls, moats, and yagura towers. The castle is not only known for its impressive architecture but also for the stunning cherry blossoms that adorn the park surrounding it. In this article, we will explore the history, cultural significance, and attractions of Hirosaki Castle.

Castle History

Hirosaki Castle was originally built in 1611 by Nobuhira, the lord of the Tsugaru clan. Nobuhira played a crucial role in the reunification of Japan, siding with the great warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Battle of Odawara and with Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara. The castle’s main tower, known as the “keep,” was initially a five-story structure. However, it was struck by lightning and burned down in 1627. The current three-story tower was rebuilt in 1811 and has since become an iconic symbol of Hirosaki.

One of the Few Originals

Unlike many Japanese castles that were dismantled or destroyed during the Meiji Restoration or World War II, Hirosaki Castle is one of the few original castles remaining in Japan. Built during the Edo Period (1603-1867), Hirosaki Castle stands as a testament to the rich history of the region. In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, the Japan Castle Foundation included Hirosaki Castle in its list of the “100 Fine Castles of Japan.”

Cultural Significance

Hirosaki Castle is not just a historical landmark; it is also a center of culture and tradition. The castle grounds play host to several important festivals throughout the year, attracting visitors from all over Japan and beyond. One of the most popular events is the Snow Lantern Festival, held in the middle of winter. During this festival, hundreds of snow lanterns, small sculptures, and projection mapping illuminate the castle, creating a magical atmosphere.

Another significant event is the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place during spring. With approximately 2,600 cherry trees in the park, the festival offers a breathtaking sight as the park is transformed into a sea of delicate pink petals. Visitors can rent rowboats, enjoy picnics under the cherry trees, and witness the night lighting that enhances the beauty of the blossoms. Hirosaki Park, with Hirosaki Castle as its backdrop, is considered one of the best cherry blossom spots in Japan.

During the summer, the Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri takes place in the castle town. This lively festival features giant fan-shaped floats known as Neputa, drummers, and dancers parading through the streets. The floats, adorned with intricate designs and vibrant colors, create a vibrant atmosphere that is truly a sight to behold.

Accessibility and Scale

Unlike many Japanese castles built on high ground, Hirosaki Castle is situated on a flat plain. This makes it easily accessible and allows visitors to explore the castle grounds without the need to climb steep stairs. The keep offers a unique vantage point, allowing visitors to admire the panoramic view of Hirosaki Park and the entire city below. The narrow turrets provide a glimpse into the castle’s defensive architecture, giving visitors a sense of the castle’s historical significance.

However, it is important to note that the castle keep is closed during winter, from November 24 until mid-April. Nevertheless, visitors can still enjoy the views of the castle grounds and participate in winter events such as the Snow Lantern Festival.


Hirosaki Castle is a remarkable historical and cultural landmark in Japan. Its stunning architecture, surrounded by cherry blossoms and vibrant festivals, makes it a must-visit destination for travelers. From the castle’s rich history to its cultural significance, Hirosaki Castle offers a unique experience that showcases the beauty and traditions of Japan. Whether it is exploring the castle grounds, witnessing the Snow Lantern Festival, or immersing oneself in the cherry blossom season, Hirosaki Castle promises an unforgettable journey through time and culture.

Keywords: History, Castle, Scenic Spot

Address And Maps Location:

1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori-ken

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