If you’re already planning a list of sakura spots to visit this year, you’ll want to add this gorgeous castle in Niigata to your list. Takada Castle Site Park in Joetsu, Niigata prefecture is home to roughly 4,000 cherry blossom trees which are illuminated at night along with 3,000 bonbori lanterns during the annual sakura festival.
This year, the festival is celebrating its 97th year with festivities taking place between Saturday March 26 and Sunday April 17. While events are limited due to Covid-19, there'll still be a lighting ceremony and fireworks display to kick off the festival on Saturday March 26.
The park has long been regarded as one of Japan's top evening hanami spots, with one of the highlights being the 300m Sakura Road, just south of the castle. Here, you can stroll under a tunnel of blossoming cherry blossom trees and see the bonbori lanterns illuminated from sunset until 9pm.
Aside from the cluster of blossoms near the castle, the inner and outer moat that surrounds the grounds and nearby Aota River are lined with even more sakura trees. It’s quite a sight to see, especially with the reflection of the lit up trees on the water.
Make a night of it by booking a Yozakura Bus Plan provided by nearby resort Kyukamura Myoko. The plan is available from March 26 to April 10 and includes dinner, a chartered bus to Takada Castle and one night stay at the resort. After dinner, you'll have about an hour to walk around the castle grounds before departing back to the resort. Stays start at ¥12,000 per person. For more details and to book, visit here.
For more information on the 97th Takada Castle Site Park Sakura Festival, visit the website.
This article was originally published on March 14 and updated on April 6.
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