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NIIGATA'S CHERRIES HERALD SPRING

The sakura, the cherry blossom, is a special flower that symbolizes springtime in Japan. All around Niigata Prefecture you will find parks planted with Somei-Yoshino or Shidarezakura weeping cherries, and when they bloom every year these parks are filled with people who come to admire the flowers. The branches bursting with blossoms attract people in the daytime thanks to their colorful pink petals; at night, with the flowers illuminated, the atmosphere changes to one of fantasy, allowing visitors to enjoy sakura in two quite different ways. This section will present four of the most famous areas in Niigata for cherries, so anyone who is interested in enjoying the best of spring is invited to visit.

A breathtaking ballet of sakura and light
“Japan’s Top Three” night sakura in their resplendent glory

 

Dating back to 1926, the Takada Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing for 1 Million People boasts ninety years of history. The castle contains some 4,000 trees and its gorgeous splendor attracts tourists from all around the country, making it one of Niigata’s biggest events. Some 3,000 lanterns decorate the area while the flowers are in bloom. The cherries illuminated by the lanterns together with the lit-up three-storied tower of Takada Castle seen reflecting in the waters of the moat create a fantastical sight--making this one of the three best nighttime cherry spectacles in all Japan. In the morning, enjoy the contrast between the cherry blossoms and the surrounding snowcapped mountains while at night the cherries create a dreamy beauty, enveloped in a myriad lights. But for the best experience, visitors are urged to see them both in the day and at night to ensure they don’t miss out on everything the event has to offer.

Information

Takada Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing for 1 Million People (Joetsu City)
Location: Motoshiro-cho, Joetsu City
Inquiries: 025-543-2777 (Joetsu Tourism Convention Association)
Best seen in: Mid-April
Illuminations: Dusk to 23:00

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Endless ways to enjoy
Shades of pink everywhere

 

Yukyuzan Park has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 Best Urban Parks. In spring, it boasts some 2,500 cherry trees, mostly Somei-Yoshino, and is famed as one of Niigata’s best places to see Sakura. The sight of the cherry trees in bloom against the backdrop of the local history museum, which has been made to look like a castle, lets visitors get a sense of the old castle town would have been like. At night some 500 lanterns shine their light on the cherries, turning the whole area into a fantasyland. There is a small animal zoo and the Aoshi Shrine, so visitors can enjoy these at the same time as they view the blossoms. The shrine sees many couples or families who come by for a prayer after they have enjoyed the blossoms.

Information

Yukyuzan Park (Nagaoka City)
Location: Oyama-cho, Nagaoka City
Inquiries: 0258-32-1187 (Nagaoka Tourism Convention Association)
Best seen in: Mid- to late April
Illuminations (scheduled): 18:00 to 22:30 (Freedom Plaza: until 22:00)

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A rich array of rare sakura
Enjoy various landscapes to your heart’s content

 

This is a popular area for relaxing, with a viewing platform on Mt. Atago and walking paths, as well as a wide area with play equipment. Chosen as one of the Best 100 Cherry Blossom Sites in Japan, this expansive park contains numerous Somei-Yoshino cherries, as well as dark pink varieties like Yoko, Kanzan, Yamazakura, Shidarezakura (weeping cherry), Edo-Higanzakura, and even rare cultivars such as Hozakihigan Yaezakura (double-blossom cherries), for a total of some 3,000 trees of many different varieties. The avenue of cherries in front of the park is lit up during the blossom season, and the cherry trees spreading over the road look almost like a tunnel of flowers. There are also numerous stalls set up, and the place is always busy with visitors who come to enjoy the atmosphere of spring here.

Information

Muramatsu Park (Gosen City)
Location: 2631-1 Atago-ko, Gosen City
Inquiries: 0250-43-3911 (Gosen City Commerce and Tourism Section)
Best seen in: Mid- to late April
Illuminations: 18:00 to 21:30

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Sakura that almost appear to rise out of the moats
Enjoy the best of the old castle town of Shibata

 

Shibata Castle has been registered by the Japanese government as an Important Cultural Property. There are some 300 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees in the grounds, along with about 60 Yaezakura (double-blossom cherries), and when they bloom in spring they are so profuse they almost seem to be growing out of the moat. The view provided by the cherry blossoms and the three-level tower with its three shachi fish roof ornaments are truly breathtaking. They create a truly Japanese atmosphere, allowing visitors to steep themselves in the air of the old castle town of Shibata. Lanterns are installed during the sakura season, so after enjoying the contrast between the bold, dynamic castle and the glamorous cherry blossoms during the daytime, you can enjoy a fantastic collaboration between the nighttime cherries reflecting in the moat and the illuminated towers. The moat, which has a walking path along it, is lined with numerous stalls, and is a great place to enjoy the coming of spring.

Information

Shibata Castle Park (Shibata City)
Location: Otemachi, Shibata City
Inquiries: 0254-26-6789 (Shibata City Tourism Association)
Best seen in: Early to mid-April
Illuminations: 18:00 to 21:00

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