I started my Golden Week 2012 trip in Yamagata.
I really hope that my posts will encourage people to come and visit Tohoku.
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!
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!
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 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).
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!
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).
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.
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.
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*
Kajou Park has a lot of cherry blossom trees, different kinds on top of that. You really don’t know where to look first
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.
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?
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!
Adults as well as kids enjoyed the petal blizzard.
The view from up there was breathtaking. There is also a railway, so if you’re lucky you can see a train passing by.
And for once without any people in the way.
Just a little bit more and the moat is turning pink! *g*
Not too far from Yamagata Castle is the “Main Building of the Old Saiseikan (Hospital)“.
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.
The building itself as well as the garden were quite pleasant.
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.
There were a lot of German documents like here from a German bank.
The Roretz nowadays and some Japanese people next to a street that was named after Dr. Roretz.
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.
A few more steps and I also spotted their bus.
This fence has a great painting of Yamagata Castle on it.
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.
At night I went to the Yamagata Castle Park again as the castle remains + cherry blossoms were lit up!
I was even lucky enough that a train passed by while I was taking photos!
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”.