Travel

Yamagata Castle (Kajou Park)

I started my Golden Week 2012 trip in Yamagata.
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.

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!

Visited: April 29th 2012

Yamagata Castle

 

Exploring Yamagata Castle

I arrived at JR Yamagata Station around noon. From the station it’s a short walk(~ 15 mins) 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.

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

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 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. 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?

cherry blossoms in Japan

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.

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.

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

Old Saiseikan

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 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

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

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.

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

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.

 

And that was my first day in Yamagata.
Of course you can see much more in one day, 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”.

18 Comments

  • A great post and loved reading about this place. Don’t the castles and cherry blossoms in Japan go so well together. I hope to visit the Tohoku region next year, so thank you for sharing this with us. Look forward to more to come in the Tohoku series :)

    • Thanks so much – also for sharing! :D
      Yes, yes, Y.E.S.! Japanese castles during cherry blossom season are my passion! Can’t get enough of it! :thumbup:
      I hope you’ll find some inspiration for your trip. The next few posts will be about Yamagata Prefecture, but after that I’ll post about a region that doesn’t seem to get many tourists at all (especially not after March 2011), so I hope to get some more people to visit there!

    • I visited on a Sunday during Golden Week and cherry blossom season. There were so many people, so it was a bit chaotic.
      That’s why I can’t say for sure if they still did. At least I didn’t hear, see or read anything about it anywhere.

  • It looks really beautiful! But why where there no people at the train station when you arrived? Looks like a ghost town in those pictures :)

    • Ahaha~ did you notice how crowded it was everywhere in and around the park?? I guess that’s where all the people were at that time! I had quite a long train ride, so I arrived around noon.
      I guess everybody else was enjoying the cherry blossoms already at that time. :satisfied:

  • Love the cherry blossom photos! I think I get what you feel about trying to take tons of photos in every angle. They’re magical.

    So if I want to catch them blooming. I need to go there March-May?

    • They are! And knowing that there’s only a very short time span until they’re gone, you just HAVE to take millions of photos! *g*
      It greatly depends on where you are!
      In Kyushu it usually starts at the end of March. From Chugoku to Kanto you’re best chances are during the first week of April, though recently the cherry blossoms have been a bit late.
      In Tohoku and Hokkaido we’re talking about late April or early May!
      If you want to go cherry blossom hunting (*lol*) then you could start out in late March in Kyushu and slowly travel all the way to Hokkaido! :D
      You can also check Japanese weather forecast websites as they’ll tell you about the status of the sakura in each city! ^-^

  • Hi!
    Thank for the info and photos. I found your website when looking up for Osorezan.
    Do you think the sakura will still in bloom when I visit in the 2nd week of May? I will arrive on May 10 and will go straight to Tohoku region (not sure to stay where first. any suggestion?).
    My first plan was going straight to Sapporo to see the sakura in full bloom but unfortunately it’s not possible due to my flight schedule.

    Thank you. :D

    • Hi Ines! :D
      It’s REALLY hard to tell. It’s not like the sakura bloom at the exact same time every year. The sakura forecast has been confusing thus far, too. First saying it’ll be later than usually and now we’re back to the normal schedule. Nobody really knows.
      If it’s like last year, then I fear there won’t be much to see anymore apart from Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures.

      When I visited Iwate Prefecture on May 7th last year there were almost no cherry blossoms at all anymore. :(

      If it’s possible at all, you should start out in the north of Tohoku as you’re more likely to still see cherry blossoms there.