Feel the history of Japan with cherry blossoms and castles

Admire the spectacular view of cascading cherry blossoms and stone walls at Tsuyama Castle and Kakuzan Park (Okayama)

This is one of West Japan’s best scenic places for cherry blossoms. In the expansive grounds are 10 meter high stone walls that intertwine with the path leading through the park, meshing together to look like cascading layers of stone from a distance. Soaring above the stone walks is the majestic castle tower, and in spring the cherry blossoms bloom along the walls to create an even more stately scenery. Also impressive are the views from the main castle enclosure of an ocean of cherry blossoms cascading over the walls, and the illuminated castle tower seemingly floating in the night sky. Be sure to also try some of Tsuyama’s local delicacies, including its special dish of udon noodles with cow or pig offal.

Tsuyama Castle and Kakuzan Park
Address
135 Sange, Tsuyama City, Okayama [Map]
Open
8:40-19:00 *from early-to-mid April, 7:30-22:00; from October to March, 8:40-17:00
Closed
None
Price
Adults: 300 yen, Junior high school students and under: free
Credit card
Not accepted
Cherry blossom
Approx. 1000 trees
Full bloom
From early-to-mid April
Light up
From early-to-mid April, sunset to 22:00
Parking
30 cars (at the Tsuyama Sightseeing Information Center) *500 yen/day during cherry blossom season
Access
About 10 minutes’ walk from JR Tsuyama Station
Contact
Tsuyama City Tourist Agency
TEL
+81-868-22-3310
URL
Website

MAP

Enjoy the view of Matsue castle adorned with cherry blossoms from its orthodox-style castle tower at Matsue Jozan Park (Shimane)

Matsue Castle is one of the 12 castle towers remaining in Japan, and also a designated national treasure. The impressive architecture includes a fourfold and five-storied observation-style tower with a view in all four directions, as well as a basement, wooden sculptures of mythical carps adorning the roof, and a gabled front section among other features. Its orthodox-style castle tower is a historical relic and the only remaining one of its kind in Japan. In spring when the roughly 190 cherry blossom trees in the castle grounds are in bloom, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the cherry blossoms and the town spreading out below the castle from the top floor lookout of the tower. Along the northern moat of Matsue Castle are several samurai homes from the Edo period, which have been preserved for visitors to enjoy.

Matsue Jozan Park
Address
1-5 Tono-machi, Matsue City, Shimane [Map]
Open
7:00-18:30 (Tower entrance: 8:30-18:00) * from October to March, 8:30-17:00 (Tower entrance: until 16:30)
Closed
None
Price
Adults: 560 yen, Elementary/Junior high school students: 280 yen *Non-Japanese adults: 280 yen, Elementary/Junior high school students: 140 yen
Credit card
Not accepted
Cherry blossom
Approx. 190 trees
Full bloom
From late March to early April
Light up
From middle of March to early April, 18:30-21:00
Parking
Matsue Castle Otemae Parking Lot (Paid Parking) *Plenty of free parking areas are available nearby
Access
About 10 minutes’ ride on the Lakeline Bus from JR Matsue Station. Near the Otemae bus stop.
Contact
Matsue Jozan Park Administration Office
TEL
+81-852-21-4030
URL
Website

MAP

Admire the collaboration of cherry blossoms and Japan’s grandest castle stone walls at Marugame Castle and Kameyama Park (Kagawa)

Also known as the Famous Castle of Stone Walls, Marugame Castle still has its original stone walls built using the most advanced techniques developed during the early Edo period, such as by roughly layering natural stones and rubble (nozurazumi) and joining together square stones (sangizumi). Look closely at the walls, and you can see the various stones used to build them. Standing perpendicular and facing toward the top of the stone walls is the particularly impressive Ogi-no-kobai fan-shaped stone wall; admiring these structures gives you a sense of the careful thought put into the castle’s construction, and superb techniques used by the craftsmen then. The cherry blossoms blooming in spring add a touch of elegance to the historical atmosphere of Marugame Castle.

Marugame Castle and Kameyama Park
Address
Ichibancho, Marugame City, Kagawa [Map]
Open
9:00-16:30 (Entrance until 16:00)
Closed
None
Price
Adults: 200 yen, Elementary/Junior high school students: 100 yen
Credit card
Not accepted
Cherry blossom
Approx. 650 trees
Full bloom
Early April
Light up
From early-to-mid April, 18:00-21:00 (scheduled)
Parking
72 cars
Access
About 10 minutes’ walk from JR Marugame Station
Contact
Marugame Tourism Association
TEL
+81-877-22-0331
URL
Website

MAP

Be impressed by cherry blossoms framing the majestic Matsuyama Castle, built over a quarter of a century (Ehime)

Matsuyama Castle is built on the 132-meter tall Mount Katsuyama in the center of Matsuyama City in Ehime Prefecture. Built over a quarter of a century, it is one of the most impressive castles in Shikoku. Next to the castle tower is a smaller tower, along with gates, turrets, moats, crenels (indentations in castle walls used to shoot or fire missiles through), machicolations (openings in the corbels or floors of castles used to drop stones, boiling water or oil on attackers), high stone walls and other clever architectural designs. The top floor of the tower provides a commanding view of the cherry blossoms scattered around the castle’s main square, as well as stunning panoramic scenery as far as the plains of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. The Ninomaru Historical Garden at the base of Matsuyama Castle is also worth visiting.

Matsuyama Castle
Address
Marunouchi, Matsuyama City, Ehime [Map]
Open
Castle tower 9:00-17:00 (ticket sales stop at 16:30, time differs by the season); Lift 8:30-17:00; Ropeway 8:30-17:30 (time differs by the season)
Closed
The castle tower is only closed on the third Wednesday in December
Price
Matsuyama Castle Tower Observation ticket
Adults: 510 yen, Elementary/Junior high school students: 150 yen
*General return ticket for the ropeway or lift
Adults: 1020 yen, Elementary/Junior high school students: 410 yen
Credit card
Not accepted
Cherry blossom
Approx. 200
Full bloom
From late March to early April
Light up
From late March to early April, 18:30-20:30
Parking
None *Plenty of pay-for parking lots available around the ropeway boarding area
Access
From JR Matsuyama Station, take the city train bound for Dogo Onsen for around 10 minutes, and get off at the Okaido Station stop and walk for about 5 minutes to the ropeway Sanroku (base) Station Shinonomeguchi. Then take either the ropeway or lift and get off at Chojyaganaru Station near the 8th base, and walk for about 10 minutes.
Contact
Matsuyama Castle General Office
TEL
+81-89-921-4873
URL
Website

MAP

Admire Kochi Castle in the spring, built by the first feudal lord of the Tosa Domain in the Tokugawa Shogunate (Kochi)

Achieving victory in the Battle of Sekigahara, Kazutoyo Yamauchi became the first feudal lord of the Tosa domain in the Tokugawa Shogunate; he built Kochi Castle to be the center of his new government. Over 1200 laborers sweated and toiled every day to build this maginifcent castle, which impresses all who see it. It is also famous for being the only castle among the numerous ones in Japan in which all the original structures of its main building have been preserved. The castle also has 15 structures that have been designated as important cultural properties, such as its black iron Kurogane gate and Otemon gate. Leisurely viewing the many intricacies of Kochi Castle is particularly enjoyable in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

Kochi Castle
Address
1-2-1 Marunouchi, Kochi City, Kochi [Map]
Open
9:00-17:00 (Entrance until 16:30)
Closed
None
Price
420 yen *Free for children and teenagers aged 18 years and under
Credit card
Not accepted
Cherry blossom
Approx. 225 trees
Full bloom
From late March to early April
Light up
From late March to early April, 19:00-22:00
Parking
65 cars (360 yen for the first hour, then 100 yen for every 30 minutes after that)
Access
About 10 minutes’ ride on the Tosaden Kotsu Bus from JR Kochi Station. Near the Kochijo-mae bus stop.
Contact
Kochi Castle Management Office
TEL
+81-88-824-5701
URL
Website

MAP

(This information is as of March 2018)

Features

We present to you a collection of short movies filled with stunning western Japan locations that you have almost certainly never seen before. The scenes of Seto Inland Sea islands, beautiful towns and the daily lives of the locals will make you want to book a trip as soon as possible. RELATED ARTICLES
MOVIES
We present to you a collection of short movies filled with stunning western Japan locations that you have almost certainly never seen before. The scenes of Seto Inland Sea islands, beautiful towns and the daily lives of the locals will make you want to book a trip as soon as possible.
Onomichi is a quaint town located along the Seto Inland Sea in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture. Onomichi was certified as as Japanese Heritage on 2017. The town extends from the mainland across some of the neighboring islands.Small ferries operate between the downtown area and the nearby islands, adding to Onomichi's nostalgic port town atmosphere. RELATED ARTICLES
ONOMICHI
Onomichi is a quaint town located along the Seto Inland Sea in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture. Onomichi was certified as as Japanese Heritage on 2017. The town extends from the mainland across some of the neighboring islands.Small ferries operate between the downtown area and the nearby islands, adding to Onomichi's nostalgic port town atmosphere.

Themes

The exquisite beauty of the blooming cherry blossoms, and also their transient beauty as the petals fall, has been revered in the literature and aesthetic concepts of Japan since ancient times. Spring in Japan is the perfect time to immerse yourself in its hanami (flower viewing) culture, when friends and family gather under the cherry blossom trees and appreciate the beauty of the flowers while drinking and eating merrily. RELATED ARTICLES
SAKURA
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What would a trip be without a special meal or treat along the way? Enjoy a luxurious time that satisfies your stomach and even your heart with cuisine created and meticulously finished by a master chef, using local, high-quality ingredients. RELATED ARTICLES
SOMETHING SPECIAL ON YOUR PALATE
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Japan's one and only enclosed sea, the Seto Inland Sea. It contains over 700 islands, each with a culture and cuisine blessed by mountains and sea. It's so beautiful that some call it "the Aegean Sea of the East." RELATED ARTICLES
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UDON
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DENIM
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There are many places for art in west Japan, where outstanding natural beauty and traditional aesthetic are protected. In particular, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Kagawa are attracting attention as great destinations that drive artistic culture in west Japan. RELATED ARTICLES
SETOUCHI ART
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The Seto Inland Sea boasts scenic cycling routes that showcase its maritime and mountain views, including the Shimanami Kaido that skips from island to island and the Kibi Route that leads around historic sites. RELATED ARTICLES
WONDERFUL CYCLING
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It is said that the history of okonomiyaki is the history of Hiroshima, such is the love of Hiroshima’s people for this exemplar of regional cuisine, passed down through generations. RELATED ARTICLES
OKONOMIYAKI
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The culture of therapeutic bathing and mind by relaxing in a hot bath amid beautiful ever-changing scenery is a fixture of Japanese culture. The Setouchi region boasts scenic outdoor baths set above sprawling islands. RELATED ARTICLES
ONSEN
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With its warm climate, West Japan has many fruit-producing regions, including Okayama, "the fruit kingdom," famous as the top producer of white peaches and Muscat grapes. You can savor sumptuous sweet treats using lavish portions of seasonal fruit such as parfaits and shaved ice. RELATED ARTICLES
PREMIUM FRUITS
With its warm climate, West Japan has many fruit-producing regions, including Okayama, "the fruit kingdom," famous as the top producer of white peaches and Muscat grapes. You can savor sumptuous sweet treats using lavish portions of seasonal fruit such as parfaits and shaved ice.

Destinations

Okayama, the Land of Sunshine, abounds with the blessings of lush mountains and a bountiful sea, the beauty of nature and the crossroads of prominent Japanese historic heritage. Always a key transport hub in the Setouchi region, in recent years it has also become the gateway to the art of the Seto Inland Sea. RELATED ARTICLES
OKAYAMA
Okayama, the Land of Sunshine, abounds with the blessings of lush mountains and a bountiful sea, the beauty of nature and the crossroads of prominent Japanese historic heritage. Always a key transport hub in the Setouchi region, in recent years it has also become the gateway to the art of the Seto Inland Sea.
Hiroshima, the International City of Peace, is known throughout the world for its two World Heritage sites and for being the setting of superb literary works. This is a compulsory stop for connoisseurs from around Japan looking for unique food culture, not least of which are okonomiyaki, said to be Japan's national dish, and oysters. RELATED ARTICLES
HIROSHIMA
Hiroshima, the International City of Peace, is known throughout the world for its two World Heritage sites and for being the setting of superb literary works. This is a compulsory stop for connoisseurs from around Japan looking for unique food culture, not least of which are okonomiyaki, said to be Japan's national dish, and oysters.
Shimane Prefecture is redolent of tradition, boasting a large number of nationally-recognized historical and cultural treasures such as the Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine and Matsue Castle. Its large number of hot springs means it attracts a large number of people seeking healing in body and soul. It is also popular among visitors who can enjoy the fresh seafood from its Japan Sea coast and traditional foods such as soba noodle and Japanese sweets. RELATED ARTICLES
SHIMANE
Shimane Prefecture is redolent of tradition, boasting a large number of nationally-recognized historical and cultural treasures such as the Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine and Matsue Castle. Its large number of hot springs means it attracts a large number of people seeking healing in body and soul. It is also popular among visitors who can enjoy the fresh seafood from its Japan Sea coast and traditional foods such as soba noodle and Japanese sweets.
In the northern part of the prefecture facing the Sea of Japan, there is a beautiful stretch of coastline of the Tottori Sand Dunes and white sand and pine trees while the south is a majestic mountain range including Mt. Daisen, the tallest peak of the Chugoku region. Tottori is therefore an area of natural beauty changing by the season, where delicacies from the sea and the mountains await. RELATED ARTICLES
TOTTORI
In the northern part of the prefecture facing the Sea of Japan, there is a beautiful stretch of coastline of the Tottori Sand Dunes and white sand and pine trees while the south is a majestic mountain range including Mt. Daisen, the tallest peak of the Chugoku region. Tottori is therefore an area of natural beauty changing by the season, where delicacies from the sea and the mountains await.
Kagawa is the smallest prefecture in Japan. It is famous in Japan and abroad for being home to Sanuki udon, one of the “big three” udon noodle varieties, to the point that Kagawa is also known as “Udon Prefecture.” Kagawa is also gaining ground as a leader of Japan’s art culture by serving as the stage for the Setouchi Trienniale, a renowned contemporary arts festival. RELATED ARTICLES
KAGAWA
Kagawa is the smallest prefecture in Japan. It is famous in Japan and abroad for being home to Sanuki udon, one of the “big three” udon noodle varieties, to the point that Kagawa is also known as “Udon Prefecture.” Kagawa is also gaining ground as a leader of Japan’s art culture by serving as the stage for the Setouchi Trienniale, a renowned contemporary arts festival.
Kochi Prefecture is a premier destination for natural beauty, with its dynamic, warm Kuroshio current-bathed coastline, crystal-clear rivers such as the Niyodogawa famous for its “miracle blue” waters, and ample scenic hotspots. It is also popular as a foodie destination, a variety of seafood including skipjack tuna and its delicious sake rice wine. RELATED ARTICLES
KOCHI
Kochi Prefecture is a premier destination for natural beauty, with its dynamic, warm Kuroshio current-bathed coastline, crystal-clear rivers such as the Niyodogawa famous for its “miracle blue” waters, and ample scenic hotspots. It is also popular as a foodie destination, a variety of seafood including skipjack tuna and its delicious sake rice wine.
Many people flock to Ehime prefecture to soothe their mind and body with the healing waters of Japan's oldest hot springs resort Dogo Onsen, and the breathtaking Tashimabi scenery of numerous islands scattered throughout the Seto Inland Sea, as seen from the Shimanami Kaido bridge route connecting six of the larger islands. In addition to these and other attractions, Ehime is also blessed with a warm climate and locally grown citrus fruits, as well as an abundance of seafood sourced from the three coastal waters that surround it. RELATED ARTICLES
EHIME
Many people flock to Ehime prefecture to soothe their mind and body with the healing waters of Japan's oldest hot springs resort Dogo Onsen, and the breathtaking Tashimabi scenery of numerous islands scattered throughout the Seto Inland Sea, as seen from the Shimanami Kaido bridge route connecting six of the larger islands. In addition to these and other attractions, Ehime is also blessed with a warm climate and locally grown citrus fruits, as well as an abundance of seafood sourced from the three coastal waters that surround it.
Tokushima prefecture magnificently captures the beautiful nature and traditional culture of Japan in its many attractions including the Kazura Bashi Vine Bridge, one of the country's three uniquely structured bridges, and the Iya Valley region with its preserved nostalgic rural scenery. A trip to Tokushima will surely be unforgettable as you marvel at the Naruto whirlpool, one of Japan's top three tidal streams, and experience the excitement of the country's hallmark Tokushima Awa Odori Dance Festival. RELATED ARTICLES
TOKUSHIMA
Tokushima prefecture magnificently captures the beautiful nature and traditional culture of Japan in its many attractions including the Kazura Bashi Vine Bridge, one of the country's three uniquely structured bridges, and the Iya Valley region with its preserved nostalgic rural scenery. A trip to Tokushima will surely be unforgettable as you marvel at the Naruto whirlpool, one of Japan's top three tidal streams, and experience the excitement of the country's hallmark Tokushima Awa Odori Dance Festival.