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AOMORI

It’s not too late for hanami

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

This year’s sakura (cherry blossoms) took many people by surprise — especially in the Kanto region. Unusually warm weather in March hastened the peak of the blossoms by a couple of weeks, and by early April, when all the parties by and under the sakura trees were to take place, the beautiful pink petals were scarce, if not nowhere in sight.

For people who feel they didn’t quite get the revelry they deserved during the annual hanami (cherry blossom-viewing) ritual, there’s Hirosaki Park in Aomori Prefecture. There, 2,600 cherry trees are expected to be in full bloom this weekend. The park is located where Hirosaki Castle used to be; its ruins and the castle tower are now open to the public. The sakura at Hirosaki Castle are said to be so spectacular that the area has been named one of Japan’s top three hanami spots along with Takato Castle in Ina, Nagano Prefecture, and Yoshinoyama in southern Nara Prefecture.

The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival will also feature some 200 stalls that will peddle various snacks and goods.

The Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival takes place at Hirosaki Park in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, through May 6. Hirosaki Park is a 30-minute walk from JR Hirosaki Station or a 15-minute ride on the Dotemachi Loop Bus from that station. Access to some parts of the park will cost ¥300 during the festival period. For more information, visit www.hirosaki.co.jp.