If you are traveling to Nagano in April then you should visit the Takato Castle Ruins Park. It hosts an annual cherry blossom festival which is known as Takato Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival usually beings in early April and runs till end of April. This is a month sakura matsuri that attracts millions of tourists, especially it is hardly missed by the locals of Nagano Prefecture. It is truly breathtaking when about 1,500 Kohigan variety cherry blossom trees offer you a pleasant spot to have a great hanami party. In fact, it is included on the list of 100 best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. As it is one of the high ranked hanami spots in Japan, I barely able to decide not to visit it.
As a result, once in the evening I caught the train to Ina (a city of Nagano Prefecture) in search of this beautiful sakura viewing spot. Everything was perfect. A complete safe journey! I stayed the night in a hotel as I reached very late. Also I wanted to catch the live action of Yozakura before leaving Nagano again on the next day. A few days ago I have published a post featuring the top 10 great Japan castles where cherry blossoms view can be enjoyed. If you have missed the post then read it right away here. If you think that why I did not include this spot on my list then I would say, it is because the main Takato Castle keep was destroyed! It is missing now. Therefore, I have featured only the 10 best Japanese castles with their main castle keeps which incredibly look gorgeous during hanami.
Takato Castle Ruins Park & Kohigan Sakura
Takato Castle Ruins Park is also recognized as Takato Joshi Park or Takato Castle Site Park. I just informed it in case you mess up with these names. It is located on a hill in Ina city. Even though it is a National Historic Site, people here don’t think of it as a great Japanese castle in comparison with other Japanese castle located other parts of Japan. However, it is a right place to have an unforgettable hanami party under thousands of sakura trees scattered throughout the park. The park was developed on the site of Takato Castle. The main castle keep was abolished a long time ago during the Meiji Restoration. Though, few castles ruins can be seen such as a classic drum tower called Takioyagura, gates, Ounkyo Bridge, the Shintokukan (a samurai house), and Shinshu Takato Art Museum.
I don’t know if you ever heard of Takato-Kohigan Sakura variety before. It is simply gorgeous and a regional treasure of Nagano prefecture. There are two reasons that makes this variety unique are: the petal of this sakura is soft reddish pink and considerable number of blossoms. It is amazing to think about how glorious it could be when you spot the Japan Alps from the castle ruins park. The moment you receive at that time will be very hard to forget, so don’t bother capturing few shoots with your camera. There is a fact to tell you that Takato-Kohigan sakura blossom is found only in this castle ruins park.
About the Festival
Can I have your right hand on my right shoulder? If so then you are welcome to explore the festival on my way. Visiting Takato Castle Ruins Park could be one of your life-changing journeys. I assume you are in Japan now to its see sakura blossoms as well as experience its culture and customs including yummy foods. To relish this remarkable journey I highly recommend you to visit this popular hanami spot. I have been to Nagano several times before but never visited Ina city until 2014. When I arrive to a new place, I usually don’t get bored. I try to get to know the place from A to Z. The actual travel resource comes from the local people. As usual, I try to meet with the locals at restaurants in search of useful travel resource and advice.
The park is accessible to everyone from 8:00 to 22:00. I stayed in a hotel called Hotel Route-Inn Court Ina, from there it was pretty easy to get to the ruins park and the deal I got was very cheap. I walked away from my room at 7:30 in the morning and took a taxi to the park. It took about 25 minutes to reach there.
As I have mentioned earlier that the festival lasts for 30 days (April 01 to April 30), you have a great opportunity to enjoy it for few days at least (if you wish). Unfortunately, I was only able to stay only a night there in Ina city, as I had other business to deal with in Sendai. The time I visited the park was at the beginning of third week in April which I believe is the best time to see a lot of soft pink sakura blossoms. In fact it was Saturday and a lot of visitors were there. To avoid the crowds please come on the other days except weekends.
I saw tourists were getting off the bus that directly arrived from Tokyo city. Everyone looked pretty harmonious, peaceful and excited. It was certainly a bus tour provided by a tour agency located in Tokyo. That was not a bad idea as many people feel comfortable with a bus ride than a train ride. Also they get other options to see and do on the way back to Tokyo. However, there is an amazing spot to enjoy sakura viewing which certainly is the Ounkyo Bridge. It is a gently curved bridge looks fabulous with the branches of cherry blossoms. And it connects the Toyamon Gate on the other side.
One thing you should never ever forget is walking. You have to walk, as Japanese people love to do it. Even the old aged visitors don’t hesitate walking through the designated paths across the park. It is the best way to explore the whole ruins park and the cherry blossoms. All of a sudden if you feel tired a bit then I hope you take a short break till you get to the food stalls that take place inside the park. A wide range of delicious foods including souvenir shops would delight your whole journey. You can buy variety of non alcoholic drinks from there and enjoy drinking under delightful sakura trees setting under them.
After the sunset, illuminations are held till 10:00 PM. In fact this is one of the reasons why I had to stay a night in Ina city. You may have a question, what did I do there till the evening from the early morning on that day! Well, I usually walk faster but whenever I enter a park to spectacle its seasonal beauty I walk a bit slowly and prefer to have some rest very often. Though, one of the time killers are book. This is my opinion and I took a book to the park called Musashi written by Eiji Yoshikawa. It is an epic novel and one of the best novels in Japanese literature. If you have not read this then I guess you have missed something very precious of Japanese literature. You can check this book out now and start reading. At the time I got back to my room was about 7:30 pm as I left the place before 7:00 pm. The entire time I spent in the park was quite memorable as I also have experienced the peaks of Japan Alps. I want your trip becomes much more interesting than mine.
How to get there?
I have visited Ina city from Sendai by train. If you are coming from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station then take JR Azusa limited express train to Chino Station. It won’t take more than 80 minutes. From there you can take a special bus runs from Chino Station to Takato Bus Station (operates only during the festival). Then it is a 15-mintue walk to the park. There is also a 100 Yen loop bus runs between Takato Castle Ruins Park, Takato Bus Station and various parking areas at 20 minute intervals. This bus service is available only during the cherry blossom festival. And if you want to take a taxi, then take one and comfortably reach to the Takato Castle Ruins Park. It is easy but a bit costly though.
Important Things to Know
Venue: Takato Castle Ruins Park
Address: Takato-machi Higashi-Takato, Ina City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Admission: 500 yen for adult and 250 yen for children during the cherry blossom season
Festival Period: 01 April – 30 April, 2016
Parking Lot: Yes
Official Website: http://inashi-kankoukyoukai.jp/
Tel: +81 265-78-4111
Some days, of course, though, you only want to go or destined to go through once. Probably the trip you are going have to this park is the last one, but I hope it is not. Get there again next year with your all family members so that you could guide them and share your vary first time trip experiences. And it is always nice to have family connections when you are a new kid in town. To make your tour enjoyable prefer a sunny day. This is an ideal travel tip which you must follow and respect up front. Good luck guys! Thanks for reading.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis