Sep
2
2012

Yamagata Castle (Kajou Park)

It’s finally time to present my Golden Week trip to Tohoku. smilie
I really hope that my posts will encourage people to come and visit Tohoku. smilie
So many people avoid the region nowadays because of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami 2011 that hit Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures especially hard, but also had effects on many other prefectures nearby.

Tohoku is such a beautiful region and there’s absolutely NO REASON to avoid going there!
I hope through my posts I can show you the beauty and awesomeness of the region. Yamagata Castle
I visited all prefectures apart from Fukushima this time, simply because I’ve already been there before!

My journey starts in Yamagata Prefecture where I visited Yamagata City and Kaminoyama on my first day. I’ll post about Kaminoyama in a separate post.

Late April to early May is cherry blossom season in most parts of Tohoku and Hokkaido.
It’s a great chance to see cherry blossoms a second time because most of Honshu (and Kyushu) have their cherry blossom peak from late March to early April!

smilie Visited: April 29th 2012 smilie

Yamagata Castle

 

Exploring Yamagata Castle

I arrived at JR Yamagata Station around noon. From the station it’s a short walk (~ 15 min.) to the “Kajou Park” (霞城公園) where you can find Yamagata Castle.

The castle park is quite spacious and the first thing you’ll see coming from the station is a bunch of castle walls.
And with the blue sky and the cherry blossom trees all over the place the castle park was great for taking some nice photos!

Yamagata Castle

Being in Tohoku means that you’ll have snow-covered mountains in the background, too! Together with the cherry blossoms it’s a great opportunity to take nice photos!

Yamagata Castle

Yamagata Castle doesn’t have a main keep anymore, but lots of remaining structures. You’ll mainly get to see stone walls as the remains of “Kasumigajo” (also known as Yamagata Castle).

Yamagata Castle

The castle park is really spacious and Yamagata Castle used to be quite big. Information boards everywhere tell those who are interested more about the original structures and construction of the castle.

Yamagata Castle Yamagata Castle

If you’re interested in castles and history, there’s a lot to discover.
If not, you still can just enjoy the beautiful park there!

Yamagata Castle

As mentioned before there is no main keep anymore, but you can access other buildings such as the Ni-no-Maru around the “Higashioote Gate” (東大手門, East Gate).

Yamagata Castle

Inside of Yamagata Castle’s “Ninomaru” you could see a few photos and pictures of the reconstruction work. Really nothing too special. Entrance was free, though.

Yamagata Castle, Yoshiaki Mogami

Yamagata Castle, Yoshiaki Mogami

There’s also a big statue of “Yoshiaki Mogami” (最上義明) in front of the “Ninomaru building” near the East Gate.
He was a daimyo of Yamagata just like his father.

Yamagata Castle

The East Gate of Yamagata Castle is a main point to enter the park and it’s open from 5am until 10pm every day.  A lot of people were around. No wonder, it was Golden Week AND cherry blossom season! *g*

cherry blossoms in Japan cherry blossoms in Japan

Kajou Park has a lot of cherry blossom trees, different kinds on top of that. You really don’t know where to look first

Yamagata Castle

There was also a “cherry blossom festival” going on, so people could enjoy various events.

To be honest I didn’t stay around for too long to see the performances, so I don’t know what else was going on.

There was also a nice koto performance.

Yamagata Castle

If you leave the park through the East Gate you’ll get a great view of  Yamagata Castle’s Ni-no-Maru building, the moat and the cherry blossoms.
Can you see that the moat has turned partly pink due to all the petals swimming in it?

Yamagata Castle

My personal highlight was a small path with tons of cherry blossom trees. You can access it from inside the East Gate, near the Ni-no-Maru building.

Yamagata Castle

You’ll walk along the moat. It was so beautiful, words can’t describe it!

cherry blossoms in Japan

Unfortunately there were a lot of other people who also wanted to enjoy the beauty, so I didn’t have this little paradise all for myself.

cherry blossoms in Japan cherry blossoms in Japan

As you can see in the left photo it was literally snowing cherry blossoms.
Thus it was also a great spot to observe “cherry blossom blizzards” (hanafubuki).

Here’s a short video. I hope you can imagine how awesome it is to stand in the middle of a cherry blossom blizzard!
People try to catch the falling petals as this is supposed to bring good fortune to you!

Yamagata Castle

Adults as well as kids enjoyed the petal blizzard.

cherry blossoms in Japan

The view from up there was breathtaking. There is also a railway, so if you’re lucky you can see a train passing by.

cherry blossoms in Japan

And for once without any people in the way.

cherry blossoms in Japan

Just a little bit more and the moat is turning pink! *g*

 

 

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

Not too far from Yamagata Castle is the “Main Building of the Old Saiseikan (Hospital)” .

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

On the left you see a monument of “ローレツ” (Mr. Albrecht von Roretz) who was an Austrian doctor working in the hospital there.

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

The building itself as well as the garden were quite pleasant.

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

Those apples were placed next to the entrance. I thought it was quite a cute idea.

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

You’ll find a lot of information about Dr. Roretz which I personally found especially interesting.

On the right we see Dr. Siebold in his young years. He was a German doctor and is very famous, especially in Kyushu.
I already mentioned him a few times, but will talk about him in detail some other time.

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

There were a lot of German documents like here from a German bank.

Building of the Old Saiseikan, Yamagata Kajou Park

The Roretz nowadays and some Japanese people next to a street that was named after Dr. Roretz.

 

 

Yamagata Kajou Park, Japanese baseball game

I still had some spare time left, so I walked around in the spacious Kajou Park a bit more.
There was also a university baseball game going on that day.

Yamagata Kajou Park

A few more steps and I also spotted their bus.

Yamagata Kajou Park

The park really offered lots of nice spots.

Yamagata Kajou Park

This fence has a great painting of Yamagata Castle on it.

Yamagata Kajou Park

Aww, isn’t this adorable?

cherry blossoms in Japan cherry blossoms in Japan

Cherry blossoms everywhere! Even the parking lot looked beautiful thanks to it!

 

Although I arrived around noon and spent a long time in the beautiful Kajou Park, I still had time to visit “Kaminoyama” and the castle there.
I’ll post about it in a separate post because otherwise it would make this blog post explode, I guess.

cherry blossoms at night lit up around Yamagata Castle

At night I went to the Yamagata Castle Park again as the castle remains + cherry blossoms were lit up!

cherry blossoms at night lit up around Yamagata Castle cherry blossoms at night lit up around Yamagata Castle

It was really beautiful! Especially around the moat there were million of people, so it was a bit difficult to get a good spot for taking photos.

cherry blossoms at night lit up around Yamagata Castle

I was even lucky enough that a train passed by while I was taking photos!

cherry blossoms at night lit up around Yamagata Castle

Reflection in the water.

cherry blossoms at night lit up around Yamagata Castle

Of course there were a lot of people around, so I ended up with some creepy “ghost” photos! *g*

And that was my first day in Yamagata.
Of course you can see much more in one day (for suggestions stay tuned for day 2), but as I arrived around noon and couldn’t resist all the beautiful cherry blossoms, I spent all the time in Kajou Park only with a short trip by train to “Kaminoyama”.

Next up: Kaminoyama that I also visited on the same day! smilie
Thanks for reading. smilie

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