It's that time of year, Hanami season, when it seems that the whole of Japan is laying down their blue tarps and sitting down to a picnic under the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Trying to enjoy the nature on show is not though always a relaxing experience. Large gatherings can be noisy. Crowds flock around the trees to get that special shot. And with restrictions this year due to covid-19 the sakura season in 2021 has an added hurdle in its path.
But, there are numerous locations in Japan where cherry blossom viewing can be observed in relative peace, whilst keeping to the guidelines of social distancing and generally being sensible.
Fushimi Momoyama Castle is a place in point. The reconstructed castle, which actually stands a few hundred metres from the location of the original castle (the original location is now the where the tomb of Emperor Meiji sits) is surrounded by an impressive garden. Visiting the grounds of the castle and garden early in the day (before 10:00 as a recommendation) gives an opportunity to wander around and see the cherry blossoms in all their glory.
The original Momoyama Castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1594. The current reconstruction was built in 1964 and at one time housed a museum and restaurant. Sadly, entry inside the actual castle is currently prohibited. The original castle was destroyed by an earthquake in 1596, it was quickly rebuilt and then under the control of Torii Mototada, a vassal of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the castle fell in 1600 in a famous siege by Ishida Mitsunari. Torii Mototada would commit suicide in the castle along with a number of his men and the blood stained flooring can now be found as part of the ceiling of Hosen-In Shrine in Kyoto.
The castle was dismantled in 1623 and much of the building was reused in other structures across Kyoto and Japan.
In 2019 Emperor Akihito visited the castle and Emperor Meiji's Tomb close by, as part of his paying respects to the ancestors on his abdication from the throne.
Fushimi Momoyama Castle and surrounding areas are featured in walks in HIDDEN PATHS-Walking Historical Kyoto Volume 1 and Omnibus Edition (available from all regions of Amazon in ebook and paperback formats). See HIDDEN PATHS books page on this site for details.