Monday, March 31, 2008
The cherry blossoms reached full bloom or mankai in Nagoya over the weekend according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency's sakurazensen or blossom forecast.
Taking advantage of a day off I ventured to Okazaki Koen,a slow 45 minute,590 yen Meitetsu train ride from Kanayama Station in Nagoya.Once you arrive at Meitetsu Okazaki Koen Mae Station its an eight minute or so walk to the Castle grounds.
Reportedly,the park in the grounds of Okazaki Castle is rated as the best in the Tokai Region and is one of the top 100 viewing sites in Japan.Plus I'd never been there before.
The castle that currently occupies the site only dates from 1959 and is a five floor, triple roof reconstruction of the original.Entry is 200 yen for individual adults.
According to the signboard outside there has been a castle there since the early 15th Century.Okazaki has special historical significance as being the birthplace of Ieyasu Tokugawa and cradle of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
With the arrival of the Meiji Restoration however the old castle was demolished in 1873-1874.
The present castle has displays on three floors that depict life back then and various exhibits of clothes,guns and armour are on show.On the fifth floor you can walk around on an enclosed outside deck.You can get a birds eye view of the grounds down to the river and over some of the flowering blossom trees which are the areas main attraction at this time of year.
Its unfortunate that the castle grounds are now in a built up suburb.Nearby apartment buildings,electricity cables and telephone lines detract from any sense of history.However what really ruined the ambience for me was the Japanese recorded music playing through the castles public address system.To compound this noise pollution the music was constantly interrupted and drowned out by a high pitched womans voice screeching out various public service announcements.I was just pleased the wind tended to blow most of this unnecessary noise away.
There are some 1,700 cherry blossom trees in the grounds which slope down from the castle towards the local river banks.There are various paths lined with cherry trees,a pond and areas suitable for hanami parties.There are lots of photo opportunities and many people were taking photos of family and friends framed by the fragile flowers.
There were many stalls set up to provide food and entertainment for the crowds who were present.For despite it being a Monday,it is Spring vacation for schools so there was a fair smattering of school aged kids and family groups.
The usual choco-banana and fried octopus stalls were in evidence.As were the okonomiyaki and giant hotdog stands.Entertainment wise there were the usual goldfish scooping and dart throwing tents.One diversion I havent seen before was this large tent structure,a Japanese version of a ghost or horror house attraction.
Apart from my annoyance about the unnecessary noise intrusion Okazaki Koen is a pleasant place to relax and share a meal or drinks with friends under the cherry trees in Spring.Just sit downwind of the Castle.
Posted by Tim at 4:29 PM